The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Watch weather sans Goldar

When Rajendra Nath Goldar came out on the verandah of his Garia home last Sunday afternoon, he felt a draught from the east. The former Alipore Meteorological Office chief looked up at the darkening sky and mumbled, “something must be wrong”.

Back in his drawing room, he called up a number that used to be his office till September 30. His observations about the forbidding skyline drew an exclamation from the other end: “You are right, sir. A depression has formed over the Bay of Bengal.”

Not for the first time in 15 years had the 60-year-old, who retired as deputy director-general of meteorology at the regional weather office in Alipore just before the Pujas, got it right.

But for the first time in 15 years, R.N. Goldar was, technically, out of the action. It was the first climatic calamity in Calcutta for years without Goldarisms to tune into, talk about and tear hair over.

This time, the man synonymous with the city’s rain and shine has taken a back seat as those in the hot seat do what he has done season in, season out. Tracking the depression, briefing the media, giving Calcuttans a close-up of the clouds and a glimpse of the silver lining.

But if retirement had dampened this weatherman’s enthusiasm, the record rains this week have revived him. Eyes glued to the Garia sky, ears tuned to tidings from the Alipore office, Goldar was all excited about the depression. “Don’t worry, I am in touch. How can I not be excited' I spent 32 years in the department and served as the director of the weather section for 12 years and a deputy director-general for the last three…”

Putting his training in cyclone-forecasting in Tokyo into practice, yet again, he went on: “I hope the depression moves faster and crosses Chhattisgarh by Thursday.”

How would he have handled the present crisis' Having braved a string of cyclones and floods since 1988, including the 1999 supercyclone in Orissa, Goldar explained that there are some “set patterns and methods” of tracking a depression. But, in the same breath, he warned that the task was “very delicate and most critical”, as every forecast report and bulletin would not only influence citizens in Calcutta but also be under the intense scrutiny of the authorities in Delhi. “We have to be very cautious. A single wrong forecast may cause a lot of harm…”

That pressure is now a thing of the past. What remains is the passion. “My interest in weather forecast draws me like a magnet. I can’t change that overnight.” admitted Goldar.

You can take Goldar out of the weather office, but not the weather office out of Goldar.

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