What you see in this picture, is the somewhat depleted waters of Nainital Lake. I did not take this photo, nor did I shoot the video. Kanika Tripathi sent this to me.
As I discovered, she passed out from Nainital. She and I are therefore, both alumni of the schools of Nainital.
I am much older than Kanika, so let me wax eloquent a bit about Nainital. Nainital is about 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) above mean sea level. There is a marvellous one kilometre long lake right in the centre of the town, and at the extreme end, you can see the Cheena Peak.
Anyway, when I was growing up there, and I am much older than Kanika, we would barely see more than a few cars a year. We’d all go to ‘town’ every Saturday, and the town was a walkers paradise.
At the far end, is a flat bit of land, which was called The Flats. There was the space for a military / police band, and they used to play in the evenings. We’d play inter school matches at The Flats, and Capitol Movie Hall was at one end of The Flats.
Today, cars crawl all over Nainital, and The Flats have been converted into a giant parking lot.
It would often snow from November. A snowflake barely makes its way down to the town these days.
“Naina” means eye. Based on an old Rudra-Shiva/ Sati legend, it appears that her eye fell here, causing the lake basin to form. Hence, Nainital is the lake of the eye of the Goddess.
Over the years, a callous administration has allowed unscrupulous builders to take from the lake, and suddenly we discovered that the lake level is 6.6 metres below what it should be. This means that (as per my very rough calculations) 14 billion litres of water are needed to restore the lake.
Where will this come from? We blithely screw up our environment. All the talk of sustainability is that – just talk.
They say that World War III will be fought over water.
If Nainital is any indication, World War III will not be very far away.
We humans will be the architects of our own doom.