India: Day 1
Where do I begin? It has taken far longer to arrive at my destination than I had anticipated but what better way to combine my 2 passions: meteorology and travel than to go chase tornados in India for four days. I have chosen not to clog up my blog today with funny or interesting stories so I will not go into any details about my journey here but instead pick up the tale from my arrival in Chennai, an Indian version of a big city. I guess in the past few years they banned cows from roaming freely in the city but it still hasn’t cut down on the amount of shit on the streets. I guess a more traveled person would react to the noise and squalor with a bit more sophistication but my only thought was that the whole place needed to be bulldozed. It was time to meet and get acquainted with my traveling companions for the next 4 days. One bit of bad news though. Due to a miscommunication we have all completely missed the tornado season so we will be spending the next week driving around with a 0.0% chance of actually seeing a tornado. I have to admit that the news was a bit of a shock given the time and money I’d spent on this trip but as long as I was here I am going to make the best of it.
There are 15 of us ‘clients’ and 4 drivers. There are 4 of from the US and the rest is made up of people from England, Australia and Ireland. The leader of our trip is Ramaswamy. He is a local and he assures us that he is an expert in avoiding rush hour traffic in urban areas … which he proves by immediately getting us caught in a traffic nightmare that had us all watching in envy as the rickshaws maneuvered around us. We were moving so slowly that some members of our group disembarked and then caught up to us some minutes later bearing cups of Chai tea that they had purchased from the local Starbucks-wannabe. Apparently getting to the counter and ordering is akin to a rugby scrum but the prices are dirt cheap so it all evens out. Apparently the tea is a little stronger than I’m use to as I am now unable to blink and the urge to leave the van and run up and down stairs is getting overwhelming.
We are on our way to Mysore now. I am in the lead vehicle which is packed with technology that gives us real time atmospheric information and GPS data that would have given us the best chance to be near super cell activity … if there would have been any. The complete lack of anything to ‘chase’ gave us all time to get to know each other better and to discuss the effects of strong Chai tea on the digestive systems of non-natives. We all wished that the windows had the ability to be rolled down as we took turns creating our own “winds” … each more foul than the next. After driving only a couple hundred miles we got to witness some lightning and we all poured out of the vans for this photo op. The fact that we are all driving around hoping to see a tornado when there is no chance of actually seeing one is like the 300 lb. gorilla in the van. Well … only 3 more days to go! More updates to follow.