Kolkata – how to cope with a cyclone

Dum Dum Road is one of the most choked arteries in Kolkata’s network, struggling with the traffic running between Dum Dum Station (north end of the Metro) and the airport, plus the usual vendors and commercial centres that line its narrow strip of bitumen. Yet immediately to the west of Dum Dum Road, behind a shielding wall, St Mary’s offers its visitors an eco-park – local and introduced trees, green grass, wetlands, a fish farm, poultry run and local birds. A succession of keen staff and students have ensured the grounds are loved and cherished.

The most recent cyclone flattened ten of the large trees, some of them already rotten with age and termites. But Kolkata is a monsoonal city, built on the largest delta in the world, so it is well and truly used to such violent happenings. Buildings intact, they found the next generation of trees, already planted, were flourishing in the rainy season. As in a natural forest, the extra light created by the fall of giants gave a boost to the younger ones waiting in the shadows.

It’s a compliment to any eco-park that it can cope with the challenges of the seasons. In fact, it’s a test of its success. It’s not a matter of being able to predict the future perfectly, it’s the art (even the spirituality) that recognises and honours nature’s way of ensuring a future, for us all.

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