Monday, August 01, 2005

Detailed account of Mumbai rains

I got this in email. Amazing details. Credits are due to the author [I don't know who, please let me know if you know].

Here is the almost hour-to-hour account of Mumbai rains:

Monday 10.00 pm: Heavy rain lash city. Mumbai sleeps. BMC sleeps.

Tuesday 6.00 am: Heavy rain lash city. Mumbai wakes up. BMC continues sleeping.

Tuesday 11.00 am: Rain continues. Office goer continues. BMC continues (sleeping).

Tuesday 12.00 noon: Rain carries on. People carry on with their routine, enjoying the clogged water up to knee level, remembering the last time they had gone to the sea at Juhu and Chowpatty and had such enjoyment. Unfortunaltely, they don't know it is the same sea water (mixed with rainwater) that they are getting in the streets, as BMC carries on with sleep and allows sea water to come in at high tide instead of flushing rainwater out at low tide.

Tuesday 3.00 pm: BMC wakes up, but yawns. Municipal commissioner Joseph says thngs are not bad. And since they have done a good job of "Naale ki saphaai" before monsoon, there is no cause to worry. But the average Mumbaikar is blessed with a brilliant sense of intuition thanks to Siddhivinayak, and he openly tells tv channels who interview that this rain seems "unusual", and the BMC or Joseph cannot be trusted.

Tuesday 4.00 pm: The average office-going Mumbaikar realizes his hunch was right after all and drops whatever he was doing at the office to get on the way to home. But it's too late. An areal view from a helicopter of star TV confirms the historic fact that Mumbai indeed was made up of 7 islands!

Tuesday 7.00 pm: Reports start coming in that all roads are clogged with water from knee-deep to 12 feet, traffic jams on all the arterial roads of the city from Eastern Express Highway to LBS Marg to Western Express Highway to SV Road, with traffic cops either drowned or deserted. Air strip is flooded with water 6 feet high, and domestic and international airports are closed until further notice. CNN announces for its viewers that both domestic and international runways are closed for traffic. Apparently they do not know we have only one landing strip. Indians can fool ALL the people ALL the time!

Tuesday 8.00 pm: On one hand, Police commissioner AN Roy, municipal commissioner Johnny Joseph (son of a very foresighted parents if they could name him "Johnny" 55 years ago), and chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh try to reassure the city that efforts are being made to extend all help to commuters. On the other hand all radio jockeys and TV channels urged commuters to either go back to office or stay where they are but NOT to try to advance. Luckily, the people in trouble KNEW whom to trust, and most of them went back to office.

Tuesday, 9 pm: All telephone networks got jammed, landline as well as mobile. Reliance Infocomm yet again confirmed that it is the worst telephone service ( I have a reliance, so this is first hand info). Among mobiles, Orange and BPL at least honestly died on the spot—No network. But Reliance wasted a zillion man-hours of people who kept on dialing in the hope that if the network bar is showing FULL signal strength, how come the calls are not going through? (That at least settled the question as to who is the smarter Ambani. It's clearly Mukesh who started the Infocomm and slyly palmed it off to his brother Anil when they split.)

Tuesday, 10 pm: Vilasrao Deshmukh announced Wednesday as holiday, asking people to stay wherever they were until the situation improved.

Tuesday, 11.30 pm: Nearly 2 and half lakh vehicles (with nearly 1 million people stranded in them) started resigning to their fate. First they blew horns, then cursed the traffic cops and the rain, then came out and tried looking into the distance, then some of them abandoned their cars while others switched of the lights and went to doze off in the vehicle.

Tuesday, 12.00 midnight: Entire suburbs power went off, another Reliance company adding to the woes of the public. Interestingly, another company given to Anil Ambani by Mukesh.

Wednesday, 5.30 am: All TV channels once again proved that keep on chasing stories and story angles of all the other channels all the time. "Breaking news" was SAME all through the night, visuals were better on Star TV and NDTV 24/7, the Sabse Tez channel Aaj Tak was Sabse Lousy! Their ad breaks were really getting on nerves! Who will tell Aaj Tak that their Bhaiyya reporters (like Poonya Prasoon Vajpayee, Prabal Pratap Singh et al) are a real pain for the Mumbaikars to watch? This once-upon-a-time leading news channel is SURELY going to the dogs! At least for the Mumbai viewers, ads and the Bhaiyyas are big put offs.

Wednesday, 7.00 am: Shockingly, NOT A SINGLE TV CHANNEL reported more than two deaths in Mumbai until the 7.00 am news. And today they are putting the figure at 200+ for humans and 1,500 for buffaloes. By the way, 300 buffaloes faced tragic death in Kama Estate in Goregaon East, when water level in their stable suddenly rose. The tragic part was that buffaloes, if left to themselves, can easily swim/float in water, but these helpless creatures died because they were TIED BY A CHAIN IN THEIR STABLES AND THERE WAS NO ONE TO LET THEM FREE. (I instantly made a decision to add an extra peg to my regular quota in the evening to mourn the death of my old neighbours in such large number.)

Wednesday, 8.30 am: The channels reported that the Indian Navy was asked for help to send in boats from Mahim causeway to rescue people stranded in Kurla where the water level was rising alarmingly. The entire nation took in the news normally with their breakfast, but the Mumbaikars skipped a heartbeat. Mahim to Kurla in a boat? Never heard of that! But areal pics from planes confirmed that it was no joke. Mahim to Kurla by water route was the only reality.

Wednesday, 10 am: Johnny, AN Roy and Vilas (looked like he spent the night with "Gilaas") were interviewed by every news channel. They squarely blamed it onto rain gods by saying that this was the greatest rainfall in 24 hours in the recorded history, so all systems failed. They looked secretly happy that the name of Cherapunji in Assam will now be erased from the geography books and replaced with Mumbai. They almost boasted Mumbai registered 944 mm of rain in one day as compared to Cherapunji whose record was only 840 mm. But by that time, no one was really watching these dumbasses. All eyes were on the bottom strip on every TV channel which carried messages from people missing and people looking for them. This was perhaps the greatest service by the channels. (Curiously, star TV made a fool of themselves when they found parents of a young girl lodging a missing complaint at the police station, and offered to find their daughter for them. The whole search operation, tracing the girl and making numerous calls, was filmed live until finally they were able to locate the girl. Ironically, the girl from Kandivali was found enjoying life with her boyfriend in a flat at Washi. It then transpired that she had left with him on Monday itself (when there was no rain) on the pretext of "looking for a job in Bandra Kurla complex with her friend Manoj". The parents were then hurriedly asked to "thank Star TV" for their help in operation "bichhade hue phir mile", and the official comment from the channel said "the girl had gone to her "would-be" in laws' place in Washi with her "would-be" husband." They forgot to add that she might have returned to her parents with a "would-be" child.)

Wednesday, evening: News of gloom, gloom and only gloom. The death toll all over the state started mounting up to 700 as reports from Raigad and other parts of Konkan came in. Landslides, drowning deaths, stampede due to rumours, electrocution, people being blown away by water were some of the causes. The worst news came when it was discovered that a bus with 16 passengers was wading its way through knee deep water in Kalina when suddenly the adjacent nullah overflowed breaking the wall, and all 16 passengers were drowned in a minute, leaving them no chance to even look for the exit door.

Wednesday, night 9.00 pm: The state government announced the next day, Thursday, also as holiday. The meteorological department had issued a warning that heavy rains would continue for the next 36 hours and people should refrain from leaving home for office, and ironically, leaving office for home too. When I heard it, my joy knew no bounds. I kissed my wife who was setting the table for dinner, told my daughter to set alarm for her college at 6 in the morning and called my sports editor at Mid Day NOT to cancel the meeting scheduled for the next day. "Are you mad," he shouted over the wire, "you must be drunk!" "No," I replied, "the weather bureau says the rain will continue, and looking at their record, this could be our only hope that things will return to normal," I said.

P.S. No need to mention I was dead right. The rain vanished, the sun returned, and life was restored to normal on Thursday.


  1. i completely agree with you as i was myself caught in those nightmarish deluge that lashed mumbai. mumbai was simply not a city anymore. it seemed as madhepura and similar bihari village whr no sign of any government like system is thinkable. though only BEST and FM radios did a commendable jobs. this is time al NRI's should help mumbai with their brilliant ideas to make this city like newyork and maharshtra as california.

  2. Anonymous2:12 PM

    It was really good to read your account. It seems that your sense of humour gets better in the time of tragedy. But that is your strength. keep on writing.
    kiran moghe