Wednesday, September 7, 2011

July - Month of deluge in Mumbai and my experience

Come July / August and rain god showers with two hands over Mumbai. From early 90's to till date, schools, colleges and even office goers usually get a extra unasked leaves due to water logging, train disruptions and pure laziness of not going to school or work on a bad rainy day.

As we always keep comparing things with some benchmark set, Come July and we inevitably start comparing some heavy downpours with either 24th July 2005 which recorded highest rainfall and made Mumbai come to a halt or 26th July 2009 when it was predicted that Arabian Sea would be in "drunk state" causing high tide of 15 feet which could have set another record. (It didn't reach that height but it was not short also)

I have noticed from last 2 weekends, rains either do overtime on Saturdays and Sundays or may be their two weekly offs have changed to some other days in a week when I am at work. I don't know !!!!! 
But sitting at home, writing my blog spot (that is exactly how I have spend my two weekends) or my favorite pastime of watching movie on my lappy or at times trying my hands on cooking my favorite Kichdi with vegetables. I think I am really at ease as compared to the day July 24th 2005 when Mumbai received unprecedented rains. With some doomsday news channel like India TV and Live TV making you go back in flashback memory even when you don't want to, refreshing your memories of one odd experience that every Mumbaiites would have faced getting stuck in rains.

For me It will be the same day July 24th 2005 when most of Mumbaities would have some experience to narrate. I had my weekly off and was lazily watching rains gather strength every now and then, with news channel as usual repeating the same story since morning, I received call from my cousin around noon as not much business as rains pouring outside, he was feeling bored in four walls of his office at Lower parel.  So we decided to meet in evening at Dadar club, which at one point was meeting place for all friends with discussions over drinks. 
Rains were not ready to stop and I was also not ready to let go one opportunity that I used to get meeting friends and cousins on weekly off which usually came once in a month or two. I left my house around 3ish in afternoon catching slow train for lower parel. Trains running slow but still reaching its destination and I was in no hurry as I was to meet my cousin around 6 in the evening. Trains slowly turned from slow to sluggish to non moving at times for a stretch and I managed to reach the spot between Vile parle and Santacruz from where you get best view of airport runway from the tracks. I took 3hours for train to reach this place. With people slowly starting to walk on tracks and mobile networks loosing its way. I decided to stay put and got down from the train on the tracks and managed to reach Scruz station. With trains on stand still and rains gaining more strength, I decided to reach SV Road from where I thaught would get some other means of transport to reach home. Water levels were knee deep with water currents strong enough to push you in corner I managed to reach SV Road only to find that everything was on stand still except people walking on dividers of the road. I too along with scores of other walkers did the same. Andheri and Vileparle are known low lying areas and water logging very common sight even when its a normal rain but it was day when rain had poured since morning.
I managed to walk all the way till Andheri station in two hours with water level rising from knee level to waist level and some social workers helping people on the way against strong water currents.
It was 7pm and Andheri station did not even have one inch of space to stand as trains were stopped so did cars and buses on the roads. People standing where ever they could get some cover from rains.I managed to get some space outside Paneri showroom. Rains continued to pour while mobile networks completely down. I had no option but to wait. 1 hour - 2hours - 4hours and no improvement in situation, I ate some bitings that I could get from nearby restaurant. 
It was 1am in the night and I had not moved since last 6hours. I decided to walk down till I had some strength. Waterlevels were now upto 3 feet outside Andheri station towards jogeshwari side and BEST buses were floating literally. I managed to walk till the bus only to find some people sleeping with bus conductor inviting me to come inside and sleep for free !!!!  I sat for some time only to find that water levels were not going down but rising steadily. Saw some brave people fighting water currents and moving towards one place from where we could reach railway tracks which was on higher grounds. I managed to join them and we were on railway tracks walking on it.  
Reached Jogeshwari walking only to find police not allowing people to walk further on tracks. So again I was back on SV road but some more hurdles on the way as firebrigade not allowing people to walk towards Goregoan on S V road  as water level had reached 6 feet, exactly my height !!!!!

On checking with by standers, found that only way to go to Borivali would be to take link road which runs parallel to S.V.Road but little far away, and that too was risky. But some people walking the way out, I also joined the bandwagon, on the way, found some rickshaws toppled, cars floating like boats.People ha left their cars as is where is, to find some other ways to reach their destination. 
I somehow managed to reach link road but water level were still knee deep and walking in such knee deep water for hours really takes every bit of strength in legs muscles. I had been walking or standing for 9hours now !!!! and I was not even half way to Borivali. 
2 more hours of walk and I managed to reach Malad only to find that stretch of road further was again in 10 feet water and area had become a sea now. So only way again for Borivali would be to take S.V road.   

Only a handful of people who were walking earlier with me had now become a big bunch of almost 30 odd people, motivating each other and telling their tales of plight.we reached Kandivali but found that water level was again around 4feet and water currents so strong that a person could not stand straight for more than a minute. Fire brigadiers had tied ropes for people to catch and maintain balance while they conduct rescue for people wanting to cross that stretch of road. Finally managing to cross it successfully I reached home at dawn 7am in morning, A walk of almost 15hours !!!!!!!!
 Luckily everyone was safe and I had managed to call home when some network was available on my mobile. My cousin slept in his office so did brother and scores of Mumbaiites.
One harrowing experience finally coming to end. It was same or even worst experience for many.
With doomsday channels telecasting news of rains comparing it with that one day of July 24th. It still remains fresh in the memories.

I managed to reach Marine drive without informing my mommy 4years later when every news channel and news paper forcasted high tide of 15feet on 26th July 2009, though it didnt reach the heights but I managed to capture what ever height it could reach in my lens.

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