They were initially bemused by the complexity of bus timetables, bin collections and—most of all—by the changeable weather. “In our country, when it’s summer, it’s summer,” says Ziead Alsaouah, Mr Batak’s son-in-law.
I had a very similar reaction to the weather when I moved here 8 years ago.
North India, where I spent the first 24 years of my life, has a very predictable weather. When it’s summer, it’s hot and dry for months on end. When it’s the rain season, it’s raining almost every day for a month. And when winter arrives, it’s bitterly cold, mostly dry, and frequently foggy (recently smoggy) for months on end.
Contrast that to the weather here on the island – it’s common to have at least two seasons in a day. Three’s not uncommon either. We had two months of constant dry, warm summers this year, and it’s already caused a mild panic. If we get a week of snow in the winter, news bulletins are full of ‘snowcalypse’ references.
It’s unsettling, at least initially, for people coming from places with stable, ‘continental’ weather patterns. Where culture, life, traditions, activities are based on the season, what do we do when the seasons just aren’t anymore?
It was an unplanned trip, to attend to a family matter. Most of it was very boring. The smog kept me indoors, so couldn’t go for long walks. I’m off TV, so no time to waste there either, and I have no friends left in Karnal to go visit.
Reading was my only escape. I read Anita & Me, and Sapiens, and re-read a bit of Thinking fast and slow. Also read 3 issues of The Economist. Separately, read a 100+ articles in Instapaper.
The visit did end on an exciting note though. On the evening before the flight, I met up with my friends from undergrad for dinner.
I had no clue what to expect. These were the people with whom I spent most, if not all, of my first 3 years of college. And yet I hadn’t seen, or spoken, to most of them in last 5-7 years.
I’ve long believed that friendship is just a bunch of shared experiences. Friendships are kept alive by creating these experiences, or reliving them. What sort of friendship would it be when we haven’t even met or spoken for better part of a decade, and not created shared experiences for even longer?
We have learned that even though we have the hardware of democracy — institutions, elections — our software is not good. We are too attuned to status, too willing to submit to authority.
Tomorrow I’m heading to India. A 12 day trip, all of it planned to be spent in Karnal. No plans, yet, of travelling, meeting friends, or spending any nights away from home.
Feeling a bit weird. It’s been a while since I did this, since I spent time there.
In 6 years since we moved to the UK, I’ve made a total of 5 visits home – once when grand dad passed away, then one to see F&F, next after our wedding, then for my sister’s wedding, and last for R’s sister’s wedding.
It’s almost 5 years since I visited to meet family outside of an occasion.
It’s been way longer since I stayed in Karnal for anything over a week.1