Soon after we discovered the Alien Black Fungus Monster (3), Spaceship 502 (1) was hit by a severe storm Cyclone Tauktae arising from the Arabian Sea! As though dealing with the virus (dear corona) and fungus (dear Black Monster) were not enough we had this new attack, Tauktae. And soon after we had Cyclone Yaas arising out of the Bay of Bengal!
My favourite author turned environmentalist, Amitav Ghosh in an interview on NDTV on May 25, 2021 noted that the Bay of Bengal was a breeder of Cyclones. I was definitely witness to that during my school days in Kolkata. We were guaranteed 2-3 days rain-holidays every year as we waded home in knee deep water! But with climate change it appeared the Arabian Sea was also becoming a hotbed of Cyclones.
Cyclones of varying intensity arising out of depression in the Arabian Sea happen in the pre-monsoon season. Tauktae was unique in that it remained active over a number of days running parallel to the coast, mercifully about 100 kilometers off the land. It moved all the way along the West Coast starting near Kerala, the southern most state in India, on May 15, 2021. It moved North along the coast of Karnataka and Maharashtra states. It gained strength as it moved north and intensified into a severe cyclonic storm. It wreaked havoc in the the city of Mumbai, which sits mostly on reclaimed land. As Amitav Ghosh pointed out it was as though the sea was out to claim her own! Heaven forbid we do not see that day in our lifetime !
Tauktae moved further north soon after and finally made landfall in Gujarat state, at Una, at 8.30 p.m. IST on May 17, 2021.
Cyclone Tauktae Batters Una, Gujarat
On the previous evening, Sunday May 16, before Tauktae made landfall, we received the first showers at Spaceship 502. We were very pleased as it was a welcome change from the soaring heat of 44 deg Celsius! We enjoyed the beautiful feel and pitter patter of the first rains though the birds were a little confused!
The light showers did no harm. On Monday morning, May 17th, everything in our greenhouse remained intact, the banana fruit bunch hanging in the front and the papitas at the back of the ship! Even our green cover to shade the plants from the searing heat was intact! On Monday morning there was rain but everything was calm. Our adopted stray cat Percival arrived, probably soaked in the night and preened himself. Obviously it was the Calm Before the Storm! Literally!!
Tauktae made its landing on the night of Monday May 17 on the coast of Gujarat. It took 18-20 hours to reach Spaceship 502! By then it had lost its ferocity! Still it created a lot of havoc.
On the morning of May 18th, 2021, Mr. Percival and Kitty arrived to check us out. They appeared a little confused too. Percival, Kitty and I took a short space walk to inspected the damage! Our banana tree could not withstand the ferocity of the storm and fell. It takes months for the bunch of bananas to bloom fully. Fortunately the bananas were full grown and we did not lose our banana harvest. Our green shade, attempt to save the plants from the searing heat, collapsed in the fierce winds.
Tauktae had taken its toll of the trees. A large number of old trees had fallen on the campus. The clearing squad was already on the job since early morning and we saw the debris scattered all over.
While most of the large Spaceships sailing with us were intact, Tauktae took a toll of some of the smaller ships! Social media genius, posted pictures of the fall of the banana tree on Facebook/Instagram. Some of our co-travelers lamented that their spaceships had developed a snag and it was raining both inside and outside during the storm! According to my friends we were the lucky ones since Spaceship 502 sailed through the storm safely with no great damage! Fortunately we did not go Bananas with Tauktae! In solidarity with all who suffered losses during Tauktae and Yaas!