Nepali Times Asian Paints
Leisure
Cloudscapes of the mind




ANUP PRAKASH

Every monsoon, people swoon over Kathmandu Valley's landscape: how the rains wash away the grime and pollution. The 360 degrees of hills are emerald green or blue-black, the terraced paddy fields on the outskirts are a quiltwork of every shade of green you can imagine.

But this is also the season when we should turn our eyes upwards to admire the post-monsoon cloudscape. As any photographer will tell you, it is the light that makes a picture come alive. A monsoon afternoon following a day of rain, when the sun comes slanting from the gap in the west between the Thankot pass and low clouds bathe the valley in exquisite halogen yellow.

And when this glow spotlights low-hanging clouds from below, bathing the city from its reflection, the effect is sublime. Take time, allow yourself the luxury of gazing up at the sky.

Despite this week's heavy rains, the sun will come shining through and by the middle of September, these cloud displays will be more frequent. Towering cumulus that soar into the stratosphere, billowing vertically so fast that they stretch and bend alto-stratus clouds.

They don't have silver linings, but rainbow-hued edges as ice particles refract the sun. The clouds glow in pastels of gold, pink, blue, and grey. They cast shadows on each other, bringing out many shades of these hues.

Then, as the sun finally dips behind the hills, the spotlight climbs higher up the cloud ramparts leaving the foundations in inky darkness. A yellow moon rises from behind a range of mountainous clouds to the east. The cloudtops glow in the moonlight, and the inside of the clouds are incandescent with silent lightning. By nightfall, there is a sudden sharp coolness as the moisture turns into mist, and the mist in turn into a fine gauze of rain again.


KUNDA DIXIT

It has been a good, healthy monsoon. For three months in a year, the Himalaya from Kashmir to Assam act as a gigantic atmospheric dam to store water vapour. The mountains are such an effective barrier that the Tibetan plateau to the north is left high and dry in the rain shadow.

The rain will soon ebb as the monsoon starts to lose its momentum and the sun comes out again. The sky is navy blue and dotted with kites, and in the terraces the golden rice is ripening in the sun.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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