Can we talk about the weather? I know it’s not the most exciting of subjects, but Mysore’s winter climate is exhilarating: cool mornings and evenings; warm, dry afternoons; cloudless blue skies (not a drop of rain has fallen since my arrival ten days ago). Chatting with some Finns at lunch yesterday (there are lots of Finns here—Ashtanga yoga is big in Finland!) we agreed that the weather has a huge influence on the psyche. People are so laid back here compared to grumpy, uptight, black-clad northern Europeans.
The weather has an influence on writers too—how many writers do you know whose work is characterised by a particular type of weather? Three of my favourites spring to mind. John Updike’s early work is often set in snowy New England (if you’ve never read The Centaur, I highly recommend it—skip the Greek mythology bits, just read the story of the father and son trapped in a blizzard). The climax of an Iris Murdoch novel always seems to come with a thunderstorm on a hot English summer afternoon (although this sweeping statement may or may not be true. Having never read any Iris Murdoch, I once came upon about five of her novels in a secondhand bookshop in Tokyo, and read them one after the other, so that they have all blurred into one novel based around a repressed middle-class family thrown into confusion by the arrival of a wayward young woman with things coming to a head on the aforementioned stormy summer afternoon.) And then there is Anita Brookner with her long white-skied April evenings viewed through the window of a sombre London mansion block by a lonely spinster.
One of my three unpublished novels ends with a typhoon. But I’m not expecting typhoons to become a defining feature of my oeuvre.