Monday, October 23, 2006

HolySmoke and Green Lungs! not one of the first things which comes to mind when we talk about Trivandrum's weather is it? One would far more likely associate this phenomenon with hilly locales like Munnar or Ponmudi than with a modern, seaside city like Trivandrum.

Yet, while I was driving home on Friday night from a late night movie, I ran into quite solid mist. So what the heck was going on? This night's mist was a born of a combination of the heavy rain over the past few days and the products of a vigorous Deepavali night. Fog or mist happens when water vapour forms into micro-droplets close to the ground, like a low lying cloud. This is catalysed by the presence of suspended matter, like smoke, which acts as the nuclei around which water precipitates.

I would guess that the cool temperature and high humidity from the rains and the smoke from the tonnes of burst crackers combined to form the unusually heavy mist. The overall effect is quite surreal with objects appearing out of and disappearing back into the coils of the fog, as one drove through it. This gives even mundane objects like a street lamp pole or a tree an aura of mystery. Driving down Kerala's best road - the brilliantly lit Kowdiar Avenue - doubly highlighted this effect. At the Kowdiar Palace Junction, now awash in the glare of a newly erected highmast light tower, the moving coils of the mist were visible like some brooding force wrapping itself over the sleeping city.

With all those crackers going off, and the local crackers being notorious for the noxious fumes they emit, one would have thought the atmosphere would have been pretty unhealthy and reeking of gunpowder...! Yet, when I dropped the window to check, I found the air fresh. Probably because our city has green lungs that any metropolis would be jealous about. The trees would help to mitigate the emissions, be it from the city's exploding population of vehicles or from the toil of a cracker-happy populace! Hats off to of the reasons I think Trivandrum's a great place to live in.

In fact, as my flight took off today morning, that view was reinforced by the vista unfolding outside my window. With its nearly unbroken green carpet, the city looked like virgin forest. Only the dozens of highrises poking out reminds the observer that there is a city of a million-plus people beneath that beautiful canopy. Add coils of mist to the panorama and the image is picture perfect.

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