Clouds

05 Sep, 2017

I have only recently learned that clouds too have names. Or rather, types. I am excited at this because if I am able to identify the clouds correctly, then I will have at least ten more and precise words for clouds. These are:

Cumulus
Altocumulus
Cumulonimbus
Cirrus
Cirrostratus
Cirrocumulus
Altostratus
Nimbostratus
Stratus
Stratocumulus

It happened at Chharwa Dam, a small reservoir about 8 km from Hazaribagh town. This dam was built by the DVC to supply water to the town, and though the demand for water has increased exponentially due to the growing urban population, the reservoir in itself has been a preferred destination for birders, photographers, and workers returning on cycles who pee with much satisfaction into the surrounding bushes.

I was with my cousin and it was about sunset. Since tourism hasn’t yet reached Hazaribagh, there is no infrastructure to enjoy the view. No gazebos, no benches. You sit where you want to. We decided to remain on foot. In front of us lay the water and in the sky were brilliant clouds. The sun played with them and tested the lens of my phone camera.

My cousin is about 6 foot tall and a pilot with the air force. In front of him, my 5’7’’ frame seems insignificant. He is not an avid speaker and our conversations are done either in silence or in the most basic utterances. But I think we understand each other, and that is beautiful.

As we walked around, he pointed to a specific cloud formation and said, “This kind of cloud is called cumulonimbus.” It was an impressive formation, which rose vertically in the sky. A swirling mass of another cloud went around it and the view was spectacular. It’s very picturesque, I thought. “It’s very dangerous... for flying,” my cousin remarked, almost as a correction. “It is where turbulence is created. Thunderstorms, etc. - we usually fly around it.”

So that was that. Cumulonimbus. I had learned a new word and was briefly thankful that I was not a pilot.

The best time to view clouds in Hazaribagh is this time. The rains are over and still not over. The mornings begin sunny and the afternoons end dark. In the gaps are formed clouds, hanging low, white with a bit of black in their bases, their structure crisp against a pure blue sky. Most are cumulus clouds. Is the plural cumuli? Cumulus are the best to shoot. They exist with the sun in a friendship of taunts and the bright light turns the ground vivid.

Sometimes I see altocumulous too, but it could also be cirrocumulus - my skills here are limited and it will take me some practice to tell one cloud from the other. Today evening, I opened the balcony door to the most thick and commanding sight of a cumulonimbus. It was massive and appeared immensely close. The BSNL tower rose on the left and the giant cloud covered much of the sky.

Parakeets flew through its extent in the foreground.

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