"If you are really interested in something, you will push yourself and find time to indulge in it." says Pradeep John, Tamil Nadu weatherman, who followed his passion in forecasting weather.
Do you regularly follow the weather updates from Tamil Nadu's weatherman? Yes, we are talking about Chennai's much-loved weatherman, Pradeep John. Do you want to know how he got involved with weather forecasts come rain or shine? Read on to know more about the man himself.
Pradeep John's journey from a child fascinated by the clouds and the rains, to becoming a star weathercaster is an inspiring example of how following your passion can lead to lasting success. Here are excerpts from an interview with the popular forecaster.
Your fascination with the weather started in 1994 when you were in class VII. Tell us how that interest evolved over the years...
While I was in school, Chennai was hit by a cyclone. Due to incessant rains, our school was closed for around two weeks. With no TV or Internet to follow the weather, I came up with my own experiments and observations like digging pits in the ground and recording the time it took for them to fill up or, measuring the size of raindrops and so on. I used to enjoy doing all this.
Predicting the weather came later. I would look at satellite images published in newspapers, collect and tabulate the data carefully. But, after the Internet boom, I learned of more methods to read the weather and predict rainfall. I also found that some commoners like me had created a blog named the Indian Weatherman. This gave me the idea to create my own blog called the Tamil Nadu Weatherman.
What did your parents think of your passion? Did they agree that it would be a suitable career option?
My parents wanted me to be an engineer because I was very good in maths and my mother was a maths teacher. However, I was interested in geography and asked my parents to allow me to study geography or a related subject. But, they weren't very enthusiastic about my choice and I studied computer science. But in the end, it turned out well for me.
How have your parents influenced you? Tell us about some qualities they instilled in you which you would also like to pass on to your daughter...
I was greatly influenced by my father who worked in the secretariat and by my mother, a teacher. The general perception is that those employed with the government are disinterested in work. But, my parents taught me that if every one of us is honest, then the system will work efficiently. I was taught to never compromise on my honesty. The other thing my parents instilled in me is that being happy is more important than making a great deal of money.
We tell our daughter that God is always watching her and therefore, she should be honest. So, our daughter never lies. Even if I happen to utter a lie and she comes to know about it, she strongly objects. Once, I tried to help her with her homework. But, when she went to school the next day, she told her teacher that I had completed the homework and that she had not done it.
How much time do you spend collecting information about the weather every day?
I keep watching radar images and documenting my data on spreadsheets every day. If I miss updating data on any one day, I do so without fail the next day. So, on average, I spend about three to four hours every day collecting and tabulating data about the weather.
People depend so much on you for information related to the weather. Does this make you feel stressed and affect your personal life?
Yes, it is stressful and sometimes leads to anxiety. If you follow my posts, you would have seen that, for the past few days, I have been posting messages about the weather at around midnight or even as late as 2 a.m. This is especially if there is something significant to report. Apart from that, sometimes, people expect too much from me by way of information. They don't seem to understand that I hold a job and also need to spare time for my family.
You have been studying the weather for more than 20 years now. Do you see any significant changes in the weather pattern?
Unlike a few years ago, nowadays, we can share or access a lot of information about the weather. Due to this rapid exchange of up-to-date information, many of us feel that the weather pattern has changed. Some feel that the weather itself is different today. But, this is not the case and the pattern has in fact, remained the same. However, selective urbanisation has created heat islands. More heat is reflected by these areas thereby attracting clouds, as winds blow from cold surfaces towards adjoining warm areas. Because of this, heat islands receive short duration, high-intensity rain. The frequency of this phenomenon has definitely increased, but there's been no change in the overall pattern.
You are so good at making weather predictions. But, are you equally good at predicting your child's moods?
Hmmm... I can predict a few things: my daughter will watch her favourite cartoon show on TV at 9 o'clock every night. And, my wife will be eager to watch her favourite reality show. Meaning, both of them will get into an argument. Also, I can predict that I will want to watch football and she won't let me!
Is your daughter also interested in following the weather, like you?
My daughter is just six years old and so she doesn't know much about it at the moment. But, I do keep telling her about a few things like cloud mask or radar to arouse her interest in the subject.
What is your idea of parenting? Would you allow your child to pursue her interests?
I frequently come across parents berating their child for not living up to their expectations. I believe that as parents, we tend to forget that the parent-child bond is forged during the initial years of childhood. So, let's treat our children with love and care to make them feel secure and confident. Let's teach them values and morals to shape their character, connect with them and watch them grow up. For, the quality time we spend with our children every day will, over the years, turn into memories that we will cherish forever.
As far as allowing our daughter to pursue her passion is concerned, I will never push her into doing anything that she isn't interested in.
Your advice to children passionate about studying the weather and, want to become weather forecasters...
In India, there are only few government agencies like the Indian Meteorological Department, the Indian Institute Of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), and Skymet, a private company, that provide weather forecasts. So, while there are many studying to be meteorologists, the opportunities are few. Also, nowadays, with the aid of information available on the Internet, anyone can predict the weather and become a weatherman.
Being a parent, and with Parents' Day around the corner, your message for other parents...
We have only one life to live; so, allow your children to do what they are passionate about. Don't force them to do things against their wishes or reprimand them if they fail in their endeavours. For, even those who aren't toppers may have characteristics or abilities that can propel them forward and help them shine in life. Above all, don't compare your children with others.
As for parents, I come across many who say that although they are passionate about something, they are unable to find the time to pursue their interests. To them I would like to say that if you are really interested in something, you will push yourself and find time to indulge in it. Our ultimate aim should be to lead a happy and satisfied life, and not to end up as mere money-minting machines.
Every time it rains or there is any storm's coming, Pradeep John gets busy with his predictions. Check out what Pradeep has to say about the impact of the eclipse on pregnant women and other peculiarities of weather.
About the expert:
Written on 16 July 2018.
Pradeep John is known as the weatherman of Tamil Nadu.
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