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Always the “Common Man” – In conversation with “Rain Man” Ramanan

The Facebook memory pop-up that brings out “This day last year” is an excellent attribute of the social network. It brings out memories that we might have completely forgotten but would always cherish. However, in the past few days, my Facebook memories have only been bringing me anxiety, fear and trauma. Why such big words, one may wonder? Well, the answer is right before you. Look at the calendar in the right corner of your screen, you will realise it was the same time last year when the rains started to pour, people found it difficult to travel and do daily chores, ultimately leaving most of Tamil Nadu submerged. It feels like it was only yesterday when the flood brought out the humanitarians in all of us.

As all of us gaze at the November sky, we wonder what it has in store. Is it going to be the same as it was last year, leaving us struggling in turmoil and making us join hands again? One cannot surely say.

Unlike Facebook, we at the Guindy Times bring you back one good memory, one memory we actually miss from last year.

It was a 20-minute drive from college to meet the final guest of Meet the Press-2016.
At the entrance of a well-built house in West Mambalam, the 'Rain man' greeted us with a big smile on his face. I tried hard to stop thinking of his famous announcements that are directly linked to a holiday and instead began looking at the pictures he was showing us.

Former Director of the Meteorological Department, and a well-known personality among the student society, Mr. S.R. Ramanan began to ride with us to give the enthusiastic students of Department of Media Sciences a lot of information on his career, the floods last year, what to expect this year and a few lighter stories from his life.

Talking with the 'Rain Man' was proof enough that most successful people are generally calm. When one student accused the Metro Department for a wrong prediction of the weather, the answer that followed was one we least expected.

Ramanan: How long do you think it will take to reach Trichy if you start now?

Student: One can never be sure sir. It depends on the traffic, the person driving and many other things.

Ramanan: If a man's action can’t be predicted accurately, how can we assess one of nature?

Many interesting conversations like these followed, and cleared all the clouds from our mind. Here's an excerpt from our interview:



How did you develop an interest to study Agricultural Climatology?

During our school days, PUC (currently 12th) was a whole new concept. Almost all my classmates went to teach in schools as the demand was high. Studying Physics, and writing TNPSC exams, I was placed in a small position in the Meteorological Department. As years went by, I realized that climate and agriculture are two strong phenomena that stand by each other. As my career demanded it, my interest developed gradually.


So, do you miss being the 'Rain man'?

(Laughs) I loved my job, it had its own challenges and was sometimes fun. I was the Director of Meteorological Department for 12 years and making announcements to the public about the climatic conditions was a part of my job. The students who listened to me are adults now. The 'Rain Man' is a rolling title which I enjoyed till it lasted.


How do you react when you see various memes referring to you as the “God of Students”, “Minnalin Jannal” etc.?

Luckily I am not on social media, so I haven’t seen much of it, but when I do get to see it through friends and family I enjoy the humor. I made no achievement to receive all this praise, as I am always a common man.


There was lot of speculation in Media about your safety during the floods last year. How was the experience for you and your family?

First, I was not carried from my home during floods as the media had reported. I was already in my office and I had informed my family about the floods after I did the same to the public. My daughter wrapped the car’s wheels and silencer using plastic bags and took necessary precautions to make sure everything was fine.


How do you think media reports on climatic conditions?

Media is an excellent tool of change and awareness, but in my opinion I feel it is turning into a sensation-driven medium. Any news reported doesn’t cover the different aspects of it, especially when it comes to environmental issues. The floods could have been handled a lot easier had media reported the right things at the right time. Media must educate the people; I hope you students take the initiative. (We smile nervously)


Do we expect floods this year as well?

It is definitely not going to pour down like it did the last year, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be flooded. Don’t you think urbanisation is an important reason for floods. I don’t see it reducing, do you?


What did the El Nino have to do with the floods last year?

El Nino is a climatic condition that can bring down heavy rainfall like what we witnessed last year. But El Nino is native to Peru and Australia. The rains we had were not as heavy as those an El Nino can bring. As I said earlier, there are far more obvious reasons for the floods.


How do Jet Streams influence weather?

Jet streams are high pressured atmospheric winds that occur at very high altitudes. During the Second World War, planes were driven without fuel with the help of Jet streams. Sub- tropical Jet streams have an influence on the weather, when they are in a perfect line, one can expect good rains as they move the clouds below.


What is your opinion on the usage of weather apps?

Weather apps aren't reliable. They don’t have the proper equipment and technology to predict the weather or climate. Their prediction is for a shorter range which might as well be wrong. If you want to know about the weather, visit the Meteorological Department website and learn about it yourself.


 Is there any chance that Cauvery issue will be solved if Tamil Nadu gets proper rainfall?

Yes, absolutely. However, one cannot surely tell if it will be stored properly. The Cauvery issue can be easily solved if the states involved try to follow western countries like Europe where 10 countries (not states) share one river. Countries like Israel that are at war and do not have rain are doing agriculture by drip irrigation methods. We can cover the crops with sheets or change the crop pattern, and that could solve the problem.


With a reputation that precedes you, did you encounter any interesting incidents with students or children?
I can recall a funny incident when I last visited my native village. As my family and I entered the temple, a group of children dragged their families to meet me. They referred to me as the “Leave vidra uncle” (one who grants holidays). 


My blissful conversation with the 'Rain Man' came to an end. As he bid goodbye with chocolates in hand and a smile on his face, I realized that he is more than just a 'God' for students. Of the many things we want to forget from last year, he sure is a treasure to hold. We hope this article’s memory next year sees Tamil Nadu in a better state. Let us pray for the rains to provide us the water we need, but hope we don't have to swim in it.

Tagged in : My space, Priyanka, News and views, Madhumitha Sekar,