Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mumbai deluge - An annual ritual

Another deluge hit the city. It was almost like 26/7. Well, almost. The major difference is while 26/7 witnessed an unprecedented 900 plus mm of rainfall, the last few days saw only 250mm at maximum. But the effect was near total. Water-logged roads & railway tracks, lost productivity, attendance of office dropped to a mere 50% on Wednesday. So what had changed since 26/7? Mumbai is famous for its undying spirit, the resilience, and its vibrant nature. But how long it can survive just on reputation? The infrastructure is creaking under the burden. A collapse in inevitable. Did we witness a trial run of that collapse? Was this a precursor of what is to come?
A couple of years back, on a rainy day, I set out for my office. From Vasai to Bandra the local train ran without any incident, though slower than normal. At Bandra it stopped and the Public address system was announcing the submerging of tracks and how trains can’t move ahead. Me & my friends caught a cab from there and reached my office 1 hour 30 minutes late. In the meantime, we never thought of going back home and we knew we will go back in the evening when the water level subsides. But this time around, we were glued to the office TV, watching news channels and anxiously looking skywards. But by 3:30 the urge to leave took over and the next day no one turned up.
So the deluge and water logging is not a new phenomenon for the embattled Mumbaikar. But the fear of getting strangled on a local train amidst submerged tracks, spending the whole night in awkward position without food or water, has prompted him / her to take the excessive precautionary measures. 26/7 left an indelible mark on Mumbaikars psyche. It surfaces whenever he sees a dark cloud on the sky, and gradually buildup along with the rains. They don’t want to take a chance. At the slightest suggestion of a heavy rain, he packs up and leaves for the safety of his home. Otherwise what explains the exodus I witnessed on Monday evening? Every road, every subway & every train was packed, by 4:30! And Tuesday & Wednesday, empty train, empty roads and empty office.
The main reason is the fear, but the authorities are not helping either. By seeing the pathetic conditions of Roads (that too laid recently) and how the drains are clogged at the mere suggestion of rain, and how their homes are getting flooded year by year, how can they not get scared? BMC & MMRDA has made a lot of promises before the monsoon but they can’t prevent the flooding. The reasons are just as ridiculous. Mumbai is a coastal city, and a low lying one so flooding is inevitable! So didn’t they consider this fact before making statements like, “This time we are fully prepared” and “if there is any flooding, you can dunk the ward officer”.
Now this is going to be an annual ritual, one that’ll be included in the government calendar. Just like How the U.S.A declare holidays when it’s snowing heavily. Mumbai has reached the saturation point. Be prepared for the next episode of flooding. May be this will be one that lasts for the entire monsoon.

Post Script:

Some people went ahead with their anti-Mumbai rhetoric, suggesting Mumbai-ites have become a whining lot. They blame the authorities (read Central govt) for every mishap etc. Let me remind you guy’s one thing. Mumbai has every right to complain. We are the highest tax paying city in India, and therefore we demand the best of infrastructure and facilities. We feed the countries economic growth, then why can’t we expect the country to payback when it’s time? We are the economic capital but what do we have in terms of infrastructure? We have a 100 year old infrastructure, mainly the drainage system and since its inception, the population of this city has grown manifold. So why, why Mumbai can’t ask for favors? Or complain? After all Mumbai rightfully deserve it. And if you meant our officials, yes the public have every right to be angry. Those armchair pundits, who writes lengthy articles sitting on their comfy armchairs don’t know what an average Mumbaikar has to suffer on a rainy day. Flooded streets, submerged tracks both means he can’t get home on time. Ground floor residents have to dash before their valuable possessions got submerged. Traders has to shift the grains and other perishable stuff to higher points. So why, why can’t they ask for their lazy Babu’s to do their duty? Can’t they learn from mistakes? How many incidents do they need to do proper job?

13 comments:

Nero said...

Yeah, one thing I've noticed is ppl have started becoming more paranoid about rains. The moment a cloud shows up, its shutters down!
(Why don't you try a bit of photography around this time?)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you meant "getting stranded on a local train", buddy :)

Shinu Mathew said...

Verb, Strangle [stranggul]
1. Kill by squeezing the throat of so as to cut off the air
2. Conceal or hide;
3. Prevent the progress or free movement of
No mate, I meant strangled . Getting stranded is one thing, which may happen in any other city during rains, but in Mumbai Locals, specially in Virar Locals, it's strangulation on daily basis, your neck under someones armpit, your ribs stuck between the post and and the pushing crowd etc.
And it's strangled because there is no space to even move your finger.

Shinu Mathew said...

Nero;
I am afraid I can't get any images of rains this time. I am scared of catching a fungus on my precious lens.
It already has a small infection in the fron element, and I don't want to spread it;
So it's kept in a PET container, Air tight with lots of silica gel;
:)

whistlingwoods said...

If wishes were horses
If you wished on shooting stars
If you wished Mumbai were another Shanghai
Don't worry Mumbaikar, its Venice already--albeit from Mars...

What say Shinu chettan?

Shinu Mathew said...

Yes, The Venice, full of canals and Boats!! God willing, we could replace Local trains with Boats & hovercrafts as the primary mode of transport!!
How did you get this Chetta bit?
:)

whistlingwoods said...

I am half Mallu. That's why :)

Shinu Mathew said...

That's fantastic!!!

dhruv said...

who the hell says we are whiners? Ooh I get so angry when people have bias against us. Bombay pays 1/3rd of this country's entire tax. We have the right to demand excellent infrastructure. Still Bombay is given a second class treatement as compared to other urban centres...

Heck we pay more than the rest metros combined together!

Bombay (Mumbai) > Delhi + Kolkata + Chennai

So shut yer mouths you retards! Bombay rocks! Mumbaiites rock! >:)

Shinu, seriously tell me who was bad mouthing our city? Lets dunk them at Kalina or Santacruz >:)

Mumbai Guy said...

Lol Druv. Lets take care of bad mouthers.

Shinu Mathew said...

Dhruv,
I read these Anti-mumbai comments in some of the news channel website. Or news website. I was so outraged at the suggestion, that immediately wrote a retort in some foul language :)
Well, I can't find that page anymore!
But I think I gave them a fitting reply. Infact all these other cities are living off us and yet they dare critisize us!!

whistlingwoods said...

Unfortunately, the city of dreams has become everyone's milking cow. The city accepts everyone magnanimously, but its denizens (quite a few of them) are apathetic toward it. They have no love for the city and abuse it in every way imaginable. It pains me to see the scars inflicted on the city's face by its own progeny. Shinu, you paid them in their own coin. Bravo!!

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