Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Some rather nice sunsets

Bombay sunsets are spectacular. I mean, they're ridiculous. They would make even the most jaded, faded, busy and harried urbanite stop and sharply draw in their breath. They would even make the friggin crows shut their beaks for a blessed five minutes and stare in awe - that is, if crows cared more about sunsets and less about pissing me off.

If you've seen the movie-that-I-am-heartily-sick-of-and-don't-want-to-discuss-for-at-least-a-week, you'll have seen what I'm talking about. For about an hour a day, right before sunset, the entire city is bathed in this incredible golden-orange light. It's bright, like an orange gel stuck over a klieg light. It's best seen in that scene where J is talking to his brother perched dangling on that ledge of the half-finished building in Juhu.

It looks something like this:

It's ridiculously beautiful. It even makes slums look appealing. For that one hour, you don't see the piles of rubbish, the goats, the ragged tarpaulins and the campfires. You just see the way the light glints off the corrugated tin. Dusty cotton saris look like silk. Goathair looks like... well, pashmina. It's like the varnish Vermeer used on his paintings, on acid. As though the urine of thousands of mango-munching cows has been piped straight into the atmosphere.

Really, there's a very simple scientific explanation. Jason explained it to me after looking at me dubiously and saying, "you want to know about... science?" He then even drew a little diagram with stick figures and arrows, so I definitely couldn't miss the point.

It goes something like this: When sunlight travels through the atmosphere, particles scatter the blue light from the rays. The more particles there are present in the air, the less blue light is seen. There are a lot of particles in Bombay's air - especially at the end of another chemical-spewing, cigarette-smoking, campfire-cooking day. Consequently, most of the blue and violet light gets scattered, leaving just spectacular red light. That's why sunsets look like this:

(taken from the top of the Intercontinental, on Marine Drive)

(taken from Bandra Bandstand)

In the last one you can actually SEE the sun sinking through layers of particle-laden air, like it's sinking into a pillow.

If you want to see more sunsets, check me out on Flickr. There, roughly 93% of my photos are sunsets.

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