The Hudhud and I

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Sitting at a safe distance of 1399 kms from Vishakhapatnam, few in Lucknow would have taken the cyclone Hudhud seriously beyond their general concerns for the natives of just truncated Andhra Pradesh. I too in last few days had watched it with the quest of my general awareness. The first question that came to the mind was, why this name Hudhud ? What it was after all ? I googled and came to know that the Indian Meteorological Department which by its precise forecasts in India has earned decent respect, issues cyclone advisories  not only for India but for seven other countries too viz. Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Oman, Sri lanka and Thailand. Under a standard practice supervised by the World Meteorological Organisation, it is customary that for cyclones arising in the northern Indian Ocean around these countries, every country gets a chance on rotation to name these out of a stock of names/titles pooled in 2004.  The title ‘Hudhud’ was suggested by Oman this time. That this catastrophe is named after the national bird of Israel (chosen after a  national survey there in 2008), can be a coincidence, but one has to be naive to believe that. The conservationists would certainly not be enjoying this unwarranted negative publicity. The extant bird Hudhud characterized by a crown of feathers is the Arabic name of the bird and is commonly known as Hoopoe. It is found in Europe, Asia including India and in north Africa. The poor bird in fact would not be even knowing that why it is being looked with so much disgust now in Andhra or even in whole of India.

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So beyond this G.K. quest of a person selected through the competitive exams, loaded even more now in favor of these KBC questions, i was not expecting a real face off with the Hudhud. But I was wrong. The impact of Hudhud in its kinder avatar though, was gutsy enough to travel full 1399 kms sideways to be in the City of Nawabs. The onslaught started on 13th night itself after about 32 hours since hitting Andhra coast on 12th noon. It started with strong winds swaying everything it could including trees and electricity lines. Then the rains followed, initially slowly but unceasingly. This consistency was still on while i was keying in this article almost after 24 hours since it started last night. The drizzle slow and fast like the recent LOC firings was still on. The first visible casualty of this consistency was something which i fear most. The morning tea without the daily dose of newspaper ! Unfortuanately this was the fourth ugly break in the newspaper chain in the first fortnight of this month alone. Lucknowites had already missed the newspapers on 3rd, 4th and 7th Oct. due to  Gandhi Jayanti, Dussehera and Valmiki Jayanti respectively. But now this Hudhud Jayanti too ! It was not fair. I waited and looked down from my first floor balcony many a times hoping against hope that the my otherwise brave hawker would somehow emerge from behind the corners of the streets. The Hamletian choice of to be or not to be, kept me on looking for the elusive newspaper. Actually this disturbance caused in the morning and that too repetitively in this fortnight has left many like me out of focus often, as who would have not enjoyed the rains from the balconies  sitting in a  cane wood chair with a newspaper in the left hand and a hot ginger laced tea in the right hand. It would have been a bliss. But that was not to be finally and i cursed Hudhud for the first time in my life. I don’t know if Oman would be happy to know that !

The next big question was that whether the children would be or should be going to school or not ? The reactions of the kids on a rainy day is linked directly to their comfort in attending classes in these cut throat competitive schools. The reactions of my son and daughter were different therefore. While one was too eager to resign to the imminent fate of not going to school the competitive one tried all tricks to leave for schools. What a contrast it was ? The calls were made. The opinions were sought. The pros and cons were weighed. The previous examples of calculations gone right and wrong were quoted. The debate took place. Finally the call was, O.K. no school for today. The announcement was made finally and the Hudhud claimed its second casualty of the day in Lucknow.

The first thing the kids do after an unplanned school break is to open the tiffin quickly and finish it off faster than the morning prayers. Actually seldom do they get their tiffins hot to relish the food. Normally they eat it at recess but by then the food gets colder and bland. So today they were in no mood to miss this chance. Immediately as a father, i sensed the opportunity to give the kids tasks to do on a rainy day. But before i could announce anything, the kids had different plans. They decided to utilize the Hudhud inflicted sabbatical to complete their quota of morning sleep. It is a fact that the kids overloaded with homework and with slow dinners in front of t v sets showing soap operas like historically twisted but popular Jodha Akbar, do compromise on their sleep. So my kids latched on this opportunity  to replenish their sleep quotas. The kids with their uniforms still on minus only shoes, huddled themselves in pillows and comforters and as father i watched the proceedings with a smile. I would have done the same perhaps. I did not curse the Hudhud this time.

After these unscheduled take offs and landings, i finished my daily routine of some exercise and a had a glassful of  lukewarm lemon water and went on to get ready for my official duties of the day. Being in the  city administration i was aware that there were few planned dharanas or agitations today. I left for the office on time despite the drizzle andseeing outside  felt really good from inside the comforts of a car. The traffic due to rain was on lighter side but got slower. The agitationists of many issues in true democratic traditions swarm Lucknow everyday. Led by their senior union leaders they intend to remind everybody of the unfulfilled promises made by the political leaders. But today they were also not prepared for the Hudhud rains. Still they were more in numbers than our rain discounted official calculations. They took their time in doing agitation before  a rather easy dispersal. But the groups of Chowkidars proved more battle hardened and did not mind getting drenched by rains too. Along with senior police officers i had to go in the afternoon on the action scene in the heart of city and had to use all of my persuading skills to communicate to this red turbaned gathering. It was raining. I convinced them finally but not before getting showered somewhat in the process despite some decent umbrella support by my staff. The Hudhud too helped and we convinced them to go back to their native districts on the promise of facilitating their talks on subsequent Hudhud free bright and sunny days in Lucknow. I thanked Hudhud now for the first time in the day as without its support it would have been an even more tough task to convince this motivated and rather bigger gathering.

So now seeing all the shades of the Hudhud i decided to take a break and came back to change my clothes. I had a steaming cup of hot tea to ward off the rain effect. I realized that nature had its own way of balancing out the things. By late evening the impact of Hudhud was on decline. The Hudhud after showing its color in state capital was moving away to the western part of Uttar Pradesh. I took a deep breath. Finally, it was a Hudhud day in all its glory.

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