By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee
The Air Mauritius plane touched down at 6.02 am on Monday last. As it approached the island it was still very dark, and it was after quite some time that I had got the opportunity to see the lights of Mauritius from a plane. As ever, they look beautiful and inviting.
But the weather was not, alas! In fact, I had half anticipated that it would be so, for about a week previously I had called home, and was told that it was frightfully cold, windy and rainy in Curepipe. And when we reached the town on Monday morning, it was just like that. The sky was completely overcast with grey clouds, and there was a fine rain and a rather uncomfortable breeze blowing. Coming back from a sunny, warm clime to cold Curepipe was pretty traumatic I must confess, despite my being a denizen of the place, the town where I was born and where I am undoubtedly going to end my days. Only a couple of days back I and some friends were discussing about how cold and wet it was, and nobody had gone walking.
Why don’t you shift to flat in a warmer place? – suggested a colleague. Good one that, but easier said than done. For, as the saying goes, mo lombri ine enterre labas! Though, the truth be told, I have a few times thought about that possibility myself, but the conclusion is always that it is not feasible for several personal and practical reasons. I am not condemned but destined to live in my birthplace: we did try to buy a house elsewhere, but by a series of what I can only call karmic circumstances, we finally landed in Curepipe only.
Never mind, it’s ok really, in spite of our grouses and transient despairs at times when the weather plays up as it has done over the past few weeks, a return to the ‘normal’ Curepipe of years ago. Many Curepipians will recall the winters of yesteryears, when it was la grande saison de petites pluies, in contrast to la petite saison de grandes pluies, which referred to the heavy showers that used to fall in summer, convectional rains as we learnt in our geography book at the primary school.
But we know, don’t we, that now there is the phenomenon of climate change, and its effects have been felt in some ways. For example, we suffered a drought in the recent summer months, which caused a depletion of our reservoirs which would normally have got filled up during that period. The rains came in April if I am not mistaken, and also we had no cyclones, but luckily by the by our reservoirs have filled up, especially Mare-aux-Vacoas. So this spell of a few weeks of the typical weather of the past in Curepipe may not necessarily mean that it will persist or recur next year.
I suppose that’s what Rio+20 is debating – not about Curepipe I mean! But in general terms about what should we all do, especially the energy-voracious countries, to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Apparently not much progress will take place at the ‘Earth Summit’ this time around. A columnist has even qualified it as a useless jamboree, because the widespread feeling among environmental groups and other stakeholders is that no new targets or timetables will be set, what with the absence of the leaders of the USA, UK and Germany who have sent their representatives instead. As reported, ‘Yesterday the summit was opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who admitted the draft outcome was disappointing. “Some member states hoped for a bolder, ambitious document,” he said. “But you should understand that negotiations have been very difficult and very slow because of all these conflicting interests.”’
If tiny Mauritius, and even tinier Curepipe, has felt the impact of climate change, imagine what is happening on a global level. Ah well…
But nothing in this world lasts for ever, and so it was with a big smile that I reached Curepipe yesterday afternoon, because the sun was out, with blue sky and bright white masses of clouds once again present to welcome me. What a relief it was after these several days of continuous bad weather, and I looked forward to a normal walk at the crater on the morrow.
It seems that a good number of family members and friends had suffered from the flu during that period of rain and cold, and yesterday in the market I heard a someone telling a vegetable vendor, ‘mone alle Curepipe sa, na pas koze! Sa fraiser la ine tape lor mo la tete sa, gagne le rhume tout de suite!’ Oh dear, what a reputation !
It’s OK though, things will definitely get better. Perhaps they will get worse too, from time to time, but that’s the nature of…nature, and we have no choice but to accept and accommodate. Or, as has been said in another context, ‘adapt or perish.’ I must remember to get that umbrella out again… to cope with the varying normals in Curepipe!
* Published in print edition on 22 June 2012