The lion sleeps tonight

“No lions today, madam,” our guide said, rather redundantly, since we’d been circling the Sasan Gir national park for the past 3 hours in ‘jeepsie’ and hadn’t spotted so much as a whisker, let alone the fine mohican hairdo sported by these Asiatic lions. It was a disappointing end to a disappointing day. We’d left Udaipur on the night bus for the “intriguing”, “exciting city” of Junagadh (as described in our lying guide book), and arrived just before dawn at our guest house with its “spotless, comfortable rooms” (a.d.i.o.l.g.b.). The place was so disgusting that we then wasted the entire morning finding an alternative, moving, and then sorting out onward travel for the next day. The town was unfriendly, stinky, filthy and the decay so all-consuming that we decided to leave as soon as possible. But first the lions. So we rushed off to the park – an incident filled with more mishap and disaster – and after expensive entrance fees, we spent a tired and fruitless time searching for wildlife. All we found were a few birds and a deer or two as we whizzed around in a cavalcade of other jeepsies full of tourists and dust.

Then back to Ahmedabad and we’re now in Delhi again. Tomorrow begins the 3-day Summit on Sustainable Development here, where I am hoping to learn more about the new technologies that will allow people to adapt to the ravages of climate change that are already being experienced by people in this country. Strange that while the UK experiences a cold-wave (is that what it’s called?) north and central India are not seeing this blip in the trend towards hotter winters – farmers in one district of Gujarat are already predicting crop losses of 30% for wheat and jeera (cumin seed) because of maggots, chitary (yellowing) and disease (kaliyo and dholiyo), which should be killed off in the dry cold but are thriving in this warmer, damper weather.

Incidentally, I was thinking the other day what a great business opportunity effective climate adaptation technology presents, but how few such products seem to being marketed, even though the developing word represents a massive market. One of the newspapers here asked the CEOs of 50 top Indian companies what they ranked as the 25 best ever business ideas. The selection includes: nappies/diapers, low-cost flights and packaged foods – all of which may come to be perceived as among the 25 worst inventions in a few years when the climate monster comes around. Video conferencing and the world wide web (No.1) were also on the list though, both of which reduce climate impacts in many ways.

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