I write this from a village in Uttarakhand. Yes, that’s the one: the state that’s burning with forest fires. I can see them from my window. Plumes of smoke rising from the hills, licks of flames eating up the dry leaves, bush, scrub, trees. But I cannot see that fire, you know that fire that affected everyone first – the one in Corbett National Park. Because unluckily for me, the whole of the state of Uttarakhand is not visible from my windows.

Fascinating state, Uttarakhand. It is divided into two halves, Garhwal and Kumaon. I live near Dehradun, which is in Garhwal. It takes about eight hours to get to Kumaon from where I am. It is easier for people in Delhi to reach Kumaon than it is for me. Yes, geography can be quite a dampener. I can see the road to Mussoorie – that’s the hill station in Garhwal, close to Dehradun – from where I am. But I could not see the fires in Landour, the fire near Woodstock School. Those are on the other side of the hills which I am on. You know hills. They have sides. Another bummer.

Parched, dry hills

Then there’s Corbett, where it all started. Corbett is in Kumaon. I cannot fathom what is happening in Corbett from where I am. I read the papers, I see the pictures, I watch the news. I know as much as you do. It is very possible you know much more than me. Maybe you are there. Maybe you know people there. I don’t. But concerned, caring people, they ask me all the time.

It’s a bit like my calling people in Mumbai and asking them how bad the drought in Marathwada is. Many people I know in Mumbai have no clue where or what Marathwada might be.

I just met someone who visited the Tehri dam. He was from Mumbai. The truth is that I have not yet seen the whole of Uttarakhand in the couple of years I’ve been here. Most tourists have seen a whole lot more than me. I just know more people in Dehradun than some of you and where on Tilak Road you can get fresh yeast to bake bread with. Actually, to be honest, I had to ask a proper Dehradun resident about that too.

I know that people mean well when they ask me how bad the fires in Nainital are. So I can tell you what I do know. The hills around Mussoorie are filled with small and large fires, almost every day. There is a pall of smoke that hangs around us and since the weather is so dry and so still, the smoke remains. You think at first that it is the usual summer haze but you sniff and it’s that bonfire smell. But you know that this is not pleasant wood smoke, reminiscent of hill station holidays. This is a desperate situation. The monsoon stopped in August. There have been no winter rains and barely enough winter snow, which are vital for water in summer. The water courses are all dry.

Plants, birds, animals, insects, people are all on the edge. The authorities can barely cope with what is one of the worst dry seasons in years. I see scorched earth where it was just green cover just a couple of months ago. This is my part of Uttarakhand.

That should be bad enough for you, I feel.

The writer is on Twitter as @ranjona. She did post two fire photographs.