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How uncanny can uncanny be?

Jan 3, 2020

While I am finalising my presentation Climate Change: Elephant in the Boardroom! for the Insurance Law Association, I am equally engrossed in Raavan. The gripping fiction by Amish Tripathi, based on the Lankan king, devil incarnate in the Ramayana. With the story unfolding, I begin to believe that this Lord of evil is the polluter, pollutant and pollution – the unholy trinity! And that a single deviant can radically vitiate the overall climate.

To be the last speaker of the day calls for extra vitality both in terms of what you wish to present and how. Therefore, nothing like fortifying the narrative with real stories. Sometimes, what others tell you lends a whiff of oxygen. And sometimes what you have said something – somewhere else – gives a new context to your fresh explorations. Most interestingly it’s what an another might tell you without even having to ask, after you have delivered your story, that triggers a new insight.

How about the last thing first? So, at my presentation I seriously fret and fume about everything that is going wrong with our lovely Planet. Coal, the king of fossil fuel and blackest of them all, is at the very epicentre of the trouble! Once I am all done and settle down for an Uber ride home – I am wishing to cool down. Expecting it to be a quiet trip. However, the driver Rahul has other plans. 

That he is from some place called Deoghar, by the Mayurakshi river, in Jharkhand is an inert input. Given my equally inert response – it is his turn to lace it up. ‘That’s where Raavan left behind the Shivalinga’ was something I was least expecting to come my way. He then tops it by saying how coal is abundant and virtually free around Deoghar. Not surprised by the fact that it is right in the heart of India’s coal belt. Not too far apart Jharia where fires have been raging for over 100 years, like uncontrolled demons, in the coal pits. Free and plentiful supply makes it a darling and an addiction. Leaves me wondering whether he can read my mind or was he present at the just concluded event, that evening?!

Late 2017 I ‘crystal ball gazed’, to write a blog on invitation from the CII (A leaf from the Chartered Insurance Institute Blog!), as to what lay in store for 2018. One trend that I talked about was the non-state players taking on the role of influencers. Emerging charisma of individuals was in mind too – particularly Sian Fisher (CEO of the CII) in context of her inspiring ‘HeForShe’ initiative. That was how far I could think at that point of time. Greta Thunberg was nowhere in sight. Perhaps just a fourteen year old then. Early last year at the Asianinvestor panel discussion on megatrends, in Hong Kong, the context of leadership evolved and I dared to say that ‘Post Millennials’ like Greta should be sitting on the boards of corporations. Howsoever, naïve it might still sound, the urgency to cut on our carbon footprint calls for Raavan-of-a-Climate-Crisis slayer like Greta.

With the rising sea level much of Mumbai will be under water by 2050 – I tell my friend quoting New York Times. This is before the local media breaks the story, a few days ahead of my presentation. I am surprised that he is not surprised and tells me what his late grandmother said. Lending more than a whiff of oxygen. The paternal grandma used to attend to the needs of a spiritual lady one Shantabai. Sometime between 1925 to 1941 – during her spiritual journey – the name Ramtanu was bestowed upon her. Shantabai visualised a great city emerging from the Sea, where Navi Mumbai stands today. More importantly, she also told the grandmother that in about 100 years the sea would claim the city back! In Turbhe (once a village), now a suburb of Navi Mumbai, stands a temple dedicated to Ramtanu that is believed to protect all its residents.

Built in 1941

There are signals galore! Are we willing to be not distracted by the noise? Uncanny or uncanny not?!

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  1. Uncanny. I just learned today that there is a word in German …”Das Unheimlich”…which Sigmund Freud used in an essay on the uncanny. Look it up. Wikipedia’ has a page on it. Just a coincidence I read your blog post tonight! Uncanny is as uncanny does!

    • Hey Dan! Thanks for making me revisit the wikepaedia on Uncanny. What you say in response to my blog is truly uncanny. Perhaps a story in itself for your blog!!!

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