Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mumbai Monsoons - 1

I missed my chance to do this last time, and the rain gods have given me a second chance, so here goes...
I'm in office, in Parel, watching the news... it looks bad. Yesterday we had around 150 mm of rain on an average, and the scene is already pretty similar to 26/7. Same roads flooded, same lines of black umbrellas snaking through a watery wasteland.

And it's scary because so far it's just about a tenth of last year's rains. It's going to get worse. A lot worse.

Started out from home around 9:30... usual pouring rain, gray skies, water streaming around my feet. Brisk breeze as well... amazing weather. Love this kind of season...

At Khar, the trains stopped exactly across a railway crossing; and all the pedestrians immediately started levering themselves up, walking through the compartment, hopping off and continuing. You gotta admire that; So there's a train in the way? No problem! I just go through it! I hopped off, walked till Bandra, got into the train there... and realized why everyone looked so familiar. It was the same train, same compartment. Grrrgh.

Slow slosh through submerged tracks to Elphinstone, then it's hop off and walk to office. Again, a repeat of the 26/7 scene... with two notable exceptions. There were at least a dozen cops in the their spanking new half-yellow-half-transparent plastic jackets enthusiastically directing traffic and at least five news vans. Things to remember: where there is a news van, there is a flooded road. Like here. Slosh through more water.

Never realized how hypersensitive these situations make me to the road. Especially when I'm wearing my Killer Sandals with the Hydroplaning Sole. I've become an expert at judging slope, texture and traction of a any surface with one glance, even if it's under a foot of water. Tar is ok. Cemented... be careful. Interlocked pavements... cool. Concreted roads (No, they're not the same as cemented roads!) are dangerous. Stone slabs, black cobbles, steel plates... shuffle like an arthritic zombie. Tiles... lie down and crack your head on them immediately, it'll save time.

Reach office, change, answer some panicked mails / calls, have a nice hot lunch (so much mirchi in the bhurji that it's inedible. Reason? It's raining. The Mumbai Monsoon can be blamed for such a fascinating variety of ills, from blocked trains to blocked alimentary canals.)

Damn. Why didn't I park my bike at UT's when the rains started? If things are going to turn out like this, I'm down one new Pulsar.

Let's see how things turn out... to be continued. Watch this space for continued drama, adventure, suspense, thrills 'n chills... no romance sadly... no pretty office women to comfort and reassure. Unlike me, they had the brains to stay home.

But what the heck... at least I have food, water, electricity, and the net... Life Is Good.

... Continued Later

Hey boys and girls! Did you know about some of the fun games you can play during the Mumbai Monsoon? Lemme getcha staaaaaaarted!
Here's the one where you have to walk around with an umbrella. Easy-peasy. The tough but is making sure you hit every - and I mean every - eye that comes near you with the spokes. Bonus points for poking eye after knocking off specs into 2 feet of muddy water!
Oooh, here's another fun one called Hide The Manhole. You gotta figure out where the open manholes are only by the whirlpools above them. Once you finish training on this, you gotta find them in waist deep water when there's water coming out of 'em... no whirlpools! Nothing at all to tell you where they are except your good ol' feet! Enjoy!
Feeling hungry? Time for the Treasure Hunt! You have to find a loaf of bread, and an egg. That's all. The grocer? The general store? the supermarket? Your fridge? The communal dustbin? Bad luck, kids... but keep looking, and tell me when you find some!
Feeling tired, cold, and wet? It's time to Identify That Smell! Is it deliciously warm fresh vadas being fried? Half-fries and pao? Or is it the Sulabh Complex next to you, equally submerged? And is that the smell of pus and old blood coming from the water coming out of the hospital grounds?
You should also try to guess what that is, wrapped around your leg under the water's surface. Let your imagination go wild! Is it a harmless ol' plastic bag? A palm leaf? Someone's soggy handkerchief? Someone's soggy arm? A paedophilic tentacular Denizen of the Deep come in on the tide from the Arabian Sea?
Tomorrow, we'll play dodge-the-buses in a foot of water, and practice sandalskating on wet flagstones / steps / pavements.

applause and childish voices raised in glee.

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