Sunday, July 31, 2005

26th July

Cricket on tv. Working away at my laptop. Arguments over the first Ashes test. A typical day at the office. Nothing unusual apart from the fact that it was raining heavily outside. Since my coming to Mumbai, the monsoon had abated for two weeks. There had been a few showers but nothing you wouldn't have seen on a rainy day in Chennai. I had come equipped with a worthy raincoat, complete with top and bottom. And so far it had done nothing but collect dust. What is to follow in this post might seen a bit dramatic and rather over-the-top. But the 26th of July was an over-the-top day.

The rain continued, incessantly since noon. While everyone else at office was looking out of windows, I scoffed saying that I had seen worse in a Kerala monsoon. At the end of the day, there I sat with my foot in my mouth.

The first call for alarm was when the terrace of my office building overflowed, and water flowed down the staircases and down the lift shafts. Then it came in through the AC vents in office. We had to shut down our comps and turn off all electrical appliances for fear of a short circuit. It was about 5 o'clock in the evening and everyone had slowly left office, attempting to make their way through what was now a 5-hour old torrential downpour. I was among the last three to leave office. And as soon as I left the building, I realised that I would have to walk home. It was unreal, I'm sure you've all seen it on TV. Automobiles were stranded in radiator-deep water. A few SUV's and buses plowed their way through, creating waves in the process. People were walking everywhere. Everyone searching for the shallowest part of the road. I chose the median. The water was waist deep and it got much worse after I reached home. Pot-holes, buses, people and a strong current were only few of the things I had to negoitaite on my five kilometre walk. I was only too aware that had an electric cable snapped in the strong wind and fallen into the water me and everyone else on the road would have had a bit of a shock. My mind wandered to an old English lesson in Class 9. It was TS Elliot who i think wrote 'An inconvenience rightly considered is an adventure'. If there ever was an inconvenience, this was one. Taking a leaf out of Peter Pan's book, I started thinking 'happy thoughts'. Fairy dust and the ability to defy gravity would have been welcome. Quite a few people were having a ball. Rolling around in the water, pulling tired cyclists off their seats, splashing people and getting their kicks. Then there were those who never have a reason not to tank up. They swigged from their bottles as they walked the streets, discarding one empty bottle and opening another. A few cars stopped to offer lifts, most others splashed as we hurried out of their way. Some acted as guides through the water, others perversely remarked at a lady's wet clothes.

I was starving but money was useless. Everything was shut. Everyone was making their way home. Finally I found a tiny bakery that was open and gorged on whatwas left of their daily stock. I tried calling near and dear ones from my phone but the most advertised network in Bombay was the first to lose connectivity. Eventually at 8.30pm, three hours after I had started walking, I reached home. My trusty phone booth, which on normal days would be open till 1am, was open. I made my calls and went home. No water had entered my house. And as I removed my raincoat, I thanked my parents for forcing me to buy it instead of a more fashionable windcheater, for underneath it, I was bone dry.

I had it easy. 5km in waist deep water over 2 and a half hours was a walk in the park. A friend of mine was stuck overnight in a taxi on a flyover and then walked 8km. Another slept over at his office and then took 9 hours to get home, walking and hitch-hiking all the way. My uncle walked 26 km to his house. And another friend, a vegetarian, had to walk past four dead bufaloes. They had it relatively easy too. Many died in a landslide. Some drowned. Some sufocated in their cars. Some died saving others. Many are still missing.

This is the first time that I've had the experience of being rendered helpless by nature. It was a truly humbling experience.

29 Comments:

At 12:38 pm, Blogger The_UndeaD_ said...

I m sure You were singing when this started...Only Ur notes can bring this kinda downpour on...But I feel u man...If u could take an AntiBlog outta ur blog it would be my life...The Desert goes on with its Dust and Heat

 
At 3:06 am, Blogger Vaibhav said...

Hey Madhu... how come you didn't tell me that they've made you King of the World?

 
At 6:38 am, Anonymous mysteryman said...

u vermin..y did u cut the phone??

 
At 11:56 am, Blogger The_UndeaD_ said...

They ve made me King of the World...

 
At 11:26 am, Blogger Yohan said...

Titanic folly.

 
At 1:50 am, Blogger The_UndeaD_ said...

Off with his Head!...

And I think the word folly is a part of the word Titanic.

And Yohan I mailed u the draft...Wheres the criticism?

 
At 9:05 am, Blogger Yohan said...

The word Titanic actually means really big, as in like a Titan. The folly came later...

 
At 3:53 pm, Blogger The_UndeaD_ said...

Man...So much effort...So much energy Gone into those fingers of yours while typing such comments...

 
At 7:25 pm, Blogger Ms. V said...

:(

We have two flats in Bombay... Both on the ground floor. Everything gone :( Even though I haven't seen the destruction yet, I feel terribly sad. My dad told me that his wedding pics and my childhood fotos are all floating around somewhere in the streets of Bombay.

This post made me sad :( Luckily my grandparents are safe. We have some really nice neighbours who came by and took them to their place upstairs.

But years of memories gone. Presents, clothes, photos, furniture.. EVERYTHING! I know they're all material things and some people have lost their lives and I shouldn't be crying over stuff so inconsequential. But still...

Nature is getting back at us. It's just ironic that the one's who are fucking with nature get away with it. And hundreds of other people die. Life's a bitch.

 
At 11:20 pm, Blogger George said...

Madhu, I'm thinking of giving up singing. Going to try my hand at flamenco or jazz instead.

Hehe... Yohan v Madhu has graced my blog too. Tawakeley, how's cat going man?

Mystreyman?? I never spoke to you on the phone. And vermin?? I dare you to leave your blog address.

Ms V. Am very sorry to hear about ur houses. Really tough. But you have two flats in Bombay? You must be rolling in moolah! (forgive the insensitiveness)

 
At 4:34 am, Blogger Yohan said...

Yohan vs Madhu?

Did't think there was a competition here.

But don't encourage me. I'm peaceably taking a lot of unwarranted crap.

 
At 4:34 am, Blogger Yohan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:40 am, Anonymous mysteryman said...

hehe..patience my dear louis...i shall leav my blog address once i get back from the university of lund in sweden where i intend to pursue my msc in environmental blah and economics... ;)

 
At 1:15 pm, Blogger vishy said...

well hav been in Bombai for 4 yrs and the monsoon always makes me sick.. trains stop and its water all over.. I once walked over 20 kms from college to home.. well but hav never seen something so bad.. wonder whts happened to my neighbours..

well miss V.. Chennai.Bbay.USA.DUBAI.CANADA>. huh.. i just havent been to the last two..

mystery man.. UNIv of LUND in sweden... the name is too funny.. (no offense intented)

 
At 9:30 am, Blogger Vaibhav said...

Time for a new post!

 
At 4:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this blog is dead...*sighs*

long live other blogs...

 
At 3:37 am, Blogger Vaibhav said...

Thomas Thuresson has been Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Alfa Laval Group, a subsidiary of Alfa Laval Special Finance AB since 1995. Mr. Thuresson held various positions at PLM in Sweden and Germany. Mr. Thuresson joined Alfa Laval in 1988 and has held various positions, including controller of business area Automation 1988 to 1990, controller of business area Flow from 1990 to 1991 and vice president Group controller from 1991 to 1994. ...

Mr. Thuresson holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the University of Lund in 1981.

what was that about the univ of Lund?

 
At 3:38 am, Blogger Vaibhav said...

So George, can i assume you aren't missing the good (?)old days of SS Person linking?!? :)

 
At 4:37 am, Blogger The_UndeaD_ said...

I dont get it Tuvok...and George,one of my friends sent me a forward abt Criket...i didnt understand shit...and i clicked on the link and it was from YOUR article man...Dude,ur getting BIG!...haha..

 
At 2:36 am, Blogger Vaibhav said...

Its a work-joke of sorts... I have lots of these but unfortunately no one outside work would get them...

 
At 11:38 pm, Blogger George said...

hello, my blog's beena bit dezad of late and ironically it can be attributd to the fact that the ashes are alive and kicking. will post soon.
who sent you what article madhu?

 
At 10:45 am, Anonymous mysteryman said...

hehe..talking abt ironies louie i am reminded of todays experience whr i went to watch madagascar but ended up watching mangal pandey instead...u said u managed to c it too rite
??

 
At 12:11 pm, Blogger The_UndeaD_ said...

dude this one...it was emailed to a group...

http://content.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/215341.html

what does it all mean??Cheers to World of Criket and the coming of Quake 4!!!

 
At 7:15 am, Anonymous mysteryman said...

there are lazy people...and then thre are lazy people...

 
At 9:13 pm, Blogger The_UndeaD_ said...

Mystery man...Go kill urself...And George u star in my latest Arbythea story , check it out..!!

 
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