Narrow escapes

Yesterday was my second encounter with a cyclone. Fortunately cyclone Nisarga made landfall about 40 kilometers south of earlier predictions, and so missed us by about 80 kilometers. These are enormous disturbances in our atmosphere, so we got rain and high winds all day. But it was the kind of weather we see two or three times every monsoon, so it was not hard to weather. The incident brought back memories of another narrow escape: from typhoon Nangka when I was in Japan five years ago. That was a super typhoon which weakened into a minimal typhoon when it made landfall. The featured photo was taken at Shirasagi-jo, the White Heron Castle in Himeji, a few hours before the landfall. I’m not one to carp at these near misses.

Waiting for typhoon Nangka

The Pacific Ocean has been very active lately. The night I was in transit to Japan, cyclone Chan-hom hit the east coast of China. About a million people had to be evacuated, and there was substantial damage. Now, less than a week later, I’m in Kobe and nervously expecting tropical storm Nangka to hit. At five in the evening I was in Kokoen garden, as the skies opened up for a while. I had my umbrella in my hand, so I managed to reach the pavilion near a pond full of koi without getting wet. The rain is a lovely sight from the balcony of the pavilion. I stood there and watched the koi swim about in the rain. Initialially the rain-drops seemed to confuse the fish, as they kept surfacing thinking that there was food being thrown in. After a while they ignored the rain and swam about just under the surface.

lantern

The bus back from Kokoen took quite a bit more than an hour, since there was an accident on the road which caused a major traffic back-up. It dropped me near Sannomiya station in Kobe. Many restaurants in Japan have red lanterns hanging outside: a lit lantern signifies that dinner is available. The wind was gusty, but not very high. The lanterns were swinging about, but safe. It wasn’t hard to find a nice restaurant. I was with friends: the Immersed and the Bear. The Bear ordered an Asahi beer. The Immersed and I shared a warm Sake. There was a variety of food, all very small helpings. We started with a platter of sashimi, my first this time in Japan. Then we went on to order a tonkatsu, and a plate of grilled octopus. The octopus in a sweetish soya sauce was new to all of us, and we liked it. We were still a little peckish, so we ordered a plate of breaded chicken. Quite a nice small dinner.

windy

We went our own ways after dinner. It had stopped raining. I walked back to my hotel by a round-about route. The wind had perhaps picked up a little. The storm is supposed to touch land around four in the morning, a little to the west of Kobe. JR trains are supposed to stop soon. School is off in the Kansai region tomorrow. I will probably not go in to work in the morning, although I guess I’ll take the final call at breakfast. If the city transport system shuts down I could still take a taxi. But if the city thinks travelling is not safe, then it might be silly of me to take a contrary decision. Right now the wind is not very high, although the flags at street corners and snapping merrily in the gusts of wind. I haven’t slept much in the last few days, so I just might turn in early tonight.

Added one day later

Nangka was a fizzle. It turned from a category 2 typhoon into a mere tropical storm the moment it hit land. I and my colleagues were rehearsing the survivor stories we would tell back home, but now all we have to report is a day-long drizzle. Great for Japan, but terrible for a blog!