Cyclone Nivar, NiVar(u vaaya?) – Are You Coming?

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Cyclone Nivar

Cyclone Nivar is the latest release from the production house of the Bay of Bengal or its closest matinee cousin, the Bay of Kollywood. This time the naming of the cyclone has been done by Iran.

Are You Coming? – NiVar u-Vaaya? (in Tamil)

In Tamil, the oldest known language on earth, Ni-var-u-Vaaya is a question, “Are You Coming?”. Of course, this question is normally asked in a friendly and receptive manner; for example, a man checking whether his beloved will make the rendezvous without fail. Or, a person wishing his or her friend/ relative to visit and confirming the same. There is even a commercially successful Tamil film with a song and title itself on this familiar and much used Tamil phrase.

Residents Of Iran Always Welcome In India

Speaking of questions and invitations, it is interesting that Nivar has been so named by Iran, the ancient land of Persia and Parsees. Knowledgeable readers may immediately recollect that the ever tolerant Hindus gave Parsees (Zoroastrians) home in India when they were persecuted centuries ago in their own homeland by bigoted invaders. Closer to our times, many Iranians have also settled in parts of India in the 1970s/80s. It would have been culturally or politically inconvenient for them to stay back with the non-secular religious revolutionaries seizing power from the Shah. The famous ‘Irani Cafes’ in Western India and the tasty Irani Tea they offered is the stuff of ‘foodie talk’. Sometimes, our own mother’s cooking and dishes take a back-seat.

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Nivar Completely Unwelcome? Are You Sure?

Notwithstanding the fear Nivar is generating, it would be unwise to disparage all cyclones everywhere. Especially not in the south-eastern part of India. Not getting the melting ice of the Himalayas means that South India’s rivers are not always perennially full.

Nivar Or Its Siblings, Cyclones Are Often A ‘Nivaran‘ (Relief in Hindi)

A fair share of south-east India’s water comes from the rains that are cyclonic in origin. Often, cyclones provide enough and more relief/ redressal (Nivar-an) from the deficit caused during bad monsoon years.

Nivar Always, But Sometimes Too Much Of A Good Thing

Sadly enough, cyclones can also prove to be too much of a good thing. Depending on their strength and/or where they make landfall, they can be quite devastating as has been seen time and again, especially in South-eastern India. Years 2015/16 is still fresh in the minds of Chennai-ites. In 2015, it was water, in 2016, it was Cyclone Vardah’s wind. May Mother Nature warn us to respect Her, but also forgive us.

Hope we don’t end up saying, “Never Say, Nivar Again”

With ‘poetic license’, we may take off on the James Bond movie ‘Never Say Never Again‘. We truly hope Nivar turns out to be decently benign (if not culturally and socially enriching like the Parsees and the refugee Iranians). Insha Allah, hopefully, we never ever have to say, “Never Say, Nivar Again”. May the economically vulnerable not be too affected, one prays. As the rain continues to pour all around, as a Mumbaikar settled in Chennai, I so wish for my vada pav and what else, my cup of steaming hot Irani Chai! Aum, Aam, Amen, Ameen!

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