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July 25, 2009

The Day Bombay Flood

I was in the morning shift that day, deep into my work and no time to look here and there. Unaware of what was going on. Every time I popped my head up, I would see one of the managers, supervisor or someone else looking out of the wall-sized windows. I turned to look outside and it was raining.

The clock ticked three and there was no sign of anyone telling the morning shift to leave. Few people from the evening shift turned up; still there was no sign of leaving the place.

I was running out of patience, so when I saw my superior walking towards me. I got hold of him and asked him about leaving for the day. He took me to his superior asking if I could be released. “If he thinks he can manage, then let him go” was how he replied. I wondered why he would say that but I was going to find that out soon.

I was happy to leave the place and had given my usual Colgate smile to my friends who saw me standing at the lift door and telling them that I was leaving for the day. What I did not know was how soon the expression on my face was going to change.

As I got out of the lift on the ground floor, and walked towards the main entrance, I could see water gushing in and half of the building space disappear in it. I stood there for a moment and looking amusingly as the water was been thrown forcibly back on the main road from the nallah (drain) that stood besides our office building.

As I stood there contemplating my next action, I found two other colleagues of mine who were also wondering what to do now. Soon the three of us decided that we will go out through the second entrance which had the road connected to the main road which happened to be the only way out.

The water level was relatively low on the road but as we got on the main road, it kept on increasing and reached up to my waist height. That reminded me of someone telling in the office that two people had ventured out but came back as the water level had submerged their bodies with the exception of their heads.

The water had so much force that it was dragging people with it; human chains were formed for safe passage of people from one side to the another. Even the cars that were left on the road were moving with the current of the water.

We kept moving ahead only to find that there was a drain kept open in the middle of the road which was acting like a whirlpool, somehow we manage to keep hold of ourselves and overcome it. Once that hurdle was clear, the water level kept receding low and we kept walking towards the railway station which was at a good distance.

My colleagues made a call to their families through a local PCO as the cell phone networks were jammed and informed that they were safe and coming home. I on the other hand did not call up my family thinking that I had just a 10 minute distance to reach my house.

Once we reached the station we bid goodbye to each other. Normally, I used to catch a bus to reach my place which was not there today, thanks to the rains. There were auto rickshaws parked on the side of the road but none agreed to take me to the destination, so I ended up walking to my home.

By the time I reached home it was already 5:30 on the clock. In normal circumstances it does not take more than 15-20 mins to reach home and back to work by the bus, but it almost took more than an hour to reach home.

The rest of the morning shift stayed back till the next morning. To pass time they played antakshari and then they were back to work as there was nothing else left to do. There was hardly any food left in the cafeteria as nobody saw this coming.

I reported to work the next morning only to hear that people (the morning shift which decided to stay back) who come from far away places decided to walk all the way to their homes in case they don’t get a lift in between. The transportation system was still down but a few vehicles were plying on the road.

News channels kept flashing the news of people stuck in their cars, buses and how they were being rescued provided food and shelter by strangers and then they were people who lost their lives to this day. Stories were being told by colleagues about animal carcass flowing down and conditions in their area.

What is pathetic to see that even today the disaster management that was formed to tackle such situations is nothing but an utter failure where if it rains heavily, places still get flooded and every time we keep hearing the beaten line “This time we are well-prepared and equipped to handle such situations”.


Choco said...

Wow...That was just terrible! Seriously our country is ill equipped to tackle the most basic fury of nature!

Grayquill said...

Hmmmm...that is a lot of rain. Curious what is it about getting permission at the end of your shift to leave? Why do you need permission?

Rakesh Vanamali said...

I was in Delhi on that fateful day and followed the news very closely!

Hoping that such an episode does not repeat!

My condolences to all those families and people who lost their loved ones and significant others!

Shwetz said...

ur post reminded me of 26th july 2005. We were stuck at Marol in that dreadful flood for 3 hours and then walked all the way to home which meant 5 to 6 hours in the water! It was a nightmare for all and we witnessed people yelling and a kid being carried off by a huge current.. we were sooo helpless!

I make it a point not to wander off during rains!

Take care.

Rashmi said...

I was in Gujarat when that happened... I was lucky all my friends and family were safe...

BTW, completed the tag... :-)check it out

Babli said...

You have beautifully described about the terrible situation which took place and I was at Muscat during that time.

indianhomemaker said...

Very glad you wrote this, nothing like a personal account ... this day had shaken me because whoever thought of floods in cities, we always think floods are something that happen in backward, remote rural areas!

♪♪HARINI♪♪ said...

i so cant believe it was that bad.....

i actually canceled my plans of visiting mumbai because of the rains and the tides..

sujata said...

Its so true that each year the same things happen and each year the authorities come up with the same line... The water logging and the normal life coming to a standstill has become like a natural occurence in Mumbai..really hats off to the people who still make the city thrive with life inspite all the odds

Chriz said...

RGV will take a movie out of this..

Shruti said...

u'r talking about.. this year? or 2005?
If its about 2005, then well, u'r very lucky! :P U reached home on the same day

The Survivor said...

@ Choco

Sad but true!!

@ Grayquill

The workload used to be on the higher side when a shift comes to an end, which leads to overtime and therefore it was made sure that before a shift is given the permission they saw that they work load was manageable by the next shift which usually had less capacity compare to the morning one when the bulk comes in.

@ Rakesh

I hopes so too!!

@ Rashmi

Yeah, saw that :D

The Survivor said...

@ Babli

Welcome to LIFE



Yeah, I guess nobody thought that this could happen in a city like Bombay

@ Harini

There is hardly any rains now, just a drizzle now & then.

@ Sujata

Do they have a choice? :)

The Survivor said...

@ Chriz

Does he reads my blog? :P

@ Shruti

It has to be 2005 :)

@ Shwetz

You might find this funny, but the area that I was talking about was not far from Marol :)

Deepali said...

Well at least your experience wasn't that bad. I was stuck in office all night but we had it relatively easy - food water electricity internet everything was available.

Unfortunately none of my colleagues got home comfortably cause everyone started leaving only around 3:30 - 4 when trains were already beginning to stop etc.

There are 2 things that are quite tragic after then.

1 - we were told that 26/7 was freak weather and some explanation was given why it happened the way it did. But we are seeing the same rain pattern EVERY YEAR.

2 - the disaster management team was suppose to see that the city doesn't come to a stand still like on 26/7 again but every year there is some flooding issue and we find they fall short. You are quite right - they keep saying the same thing but no one believes them.

The Survivor said...

@ Deepali

You should have seen the water level and its current :)

Somethings don't change!!