Friday, July 29, 2005

When the Going Gets Tough...

Gosh! When I was cursing my luck at being surrounded by knee high water on 26th July, little did I know that this was no ordinary Bombay shower and also how lucky I really was! I felt the full impact the next day when Grans was sick with worry because she couldn’t reach my brother. All the cellular networks were down.
When I switched on the radio (which I do as soon as I wake up) the RJs were relaying messages from mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, uncles, nephews, friends, colleagues, all desperately searching for their near and dear ones. Most of the messages had the same timbre, “Where are you? Please call as soon as possible.”
When I switched on the TV to watch the news, the same messages were running on the ticker tapes.
All these messages sent a chill down my spine.
My mother also called from Hyderabad, asking if my brother, D, had got in touch.
At last he did call at about 4:30-5:00, and all of us heaved a sigh of relief.
But I was still worried about a friend of mine, N, who is also from Hyderabad. She had to go to Andheri that day for her internship, and the news that the Andheri-Bandra areas were flooded kept on being repeated on the radio. I couldn’t even get through to her because of the cellular networks being down.
Today she called me and told me that she had almost drowned, as the water where she was had come up to her neck! Some good Samaritans had fished her out and even escorted her all the way to her local guardians’ place in Juhu.
The ground floor of another friend’s bungalow was covered in shoulder high water. She sounded sad, but at the same time optimistic that they would try and salvage whatever they could.
D came back home in the evening today. He works in Malad, another area that was completely flooded. He and some friends of his half-waded half-swam to his friend’s place in Malad, itself. It usually takes them about 20 minutes to get there, but this time it took them nearly 2 hours because the water was chest high. He had some horrendous experiences too. He saw buffaloes helplessly being carried away by the strong currents.
He narrated another story in which, he and another friend had gone to drop a third friend to his house, and had asked the fourth friend, C, to stay below his building. On their way back they got a bit disoriented and entered the wrong building compound, and began shouting for C. In reply someone kept on yelling, “Yes!” They were like, “C, is that you?” And the voice just kept on yelling back, “Yes!” They figured that it was some prankster, and realizing that they were in the wrong compound, set out for the right one, where they found C standing where they had left him. Later they found out that the voice yelling out “Yes” was a genuine call for help. It belonged to an elderly man who was trapped in the rushing water. D was quite upset that the voice was so nearby and they could have helped the man. But he and his friend were disoriented as it is; it was a terrible tragedy, but they cannot blame themselves.
A cousin of mine, N, walked for almost 18 hours all the way home. He started out at 6:00 pm in the evening on 26th July, and reached home at 12:00 noon on 27th.
An aunt of mine got stranded in her car on a flyover close to her house for 2-3 hours. In the end she was forced to abandon her car and walk the rest of the way home.
I also heard on the radio that civil volunteers were trying to help those stranded on the roads by offering them biscuits, water, and tea. This disaster sure did bring out the helping side of all Bombayites.
Even till today quite a lot of people have not reached home. So many out of towners are also stranded, with no trains or airplanes being able to take off. The domestic airport at Santa Cruz apparently resembled a lake!
Even the movie stars weren’t spared, as was reported in the newspaper today. Bipasha Basu has no idea where John Abraham is, and Amrita Arora has no idea where her sister, Malaika Arora is. Both are worried sick. A news channel also caught Aamir Khan stuck in traffic.
Most of the schools and colleges have handled the situation marvelously. Don Bosco, a school close to my home, offered not only the students but also their parents shelter and hot food too. St. Xaviers also extended their help to students and parents alike.
On the radio people called in with stories of their experiences on 26th and 27th July. Some had gone through great ordeals, while others had had not such a bad time, a little fun even!
One caller said that this ordeal has shown what Bombayites are made of: We will never give up in the face of adversity. And that is the gist of what this post is all about.


Invincible said...

Yes, such erruptions bring out the true spirit of Mumbai. 'Never say die !!'
And this is where we get to see the meaning of Humanity, people risking their lives to bail others out.

One of my friends is stranded in Zurich from 2 days waiting for the international traffic to Mumbai open.
Thanks for visiting my blog :-)

AmitKen said...

Hey Urvi,

Nice to know that you and ur family n friends are safe.

ur first post about rains and the current one, really depict how the people reacted to rains in a celebration mood, but soon it turned into panic and struggle...

hope the city is back to its usual self very soon.

take care!

Phoenix Rises said...

Hey Invincible! Thanks for visiting my blog.
I think flights ahve been cleared for take off and landing from today. This natural disaster seems to have affected people not only in Bombay, but other places too.

Hi Amitken! Long time! :)
I really am very glad that everyone I know is safe, a little worn out, but safe nevertheless!

Manish said...

quite a vivid account people suffered a lot!

Invincible said...

yah, true. Let's raise a toast for the spirit of humanity and the uncessant desire to fight all odds.

We were in touch with all possible airlines from 4 am till 2 am. We heard only local flights r open. Anyway, signs r good n i hope rain has quenched its thirst.

by n large, everyone's safe. Week's also gone. Let's hope the new week brings new light.

(weird? - :-) )

Phoenix Rises said...

Hi Manish! People still seem to be suffering, quite a few people are still missing. But this disaster has brought people together.

Hey Invincible! I too hope that the "rain has quenched its thirst". Am actually get a bit scared each time it starts raining now!
Yes, wierd! But in a nice way! :))

PuNeEt said...

My friend too gave message on FM for one of our friends, who was not traceable, then on thursday we went to her home and were happy to c her there... the network was screwed

Ya even Celebrities were struck... rain fall equally on all but the consequence is not the same...

Hope things get back to normal soon.

Arz000n said...

Wht the hell BMC guys do for whole 365 days...when each year they claim about tackling the monsoons this time for sure.

What is tht?
Everytime it gets worse and worse. Is this the way they are providing assurance? What stupidity?

They should be hanged for all this mess.

Anyway...good to hear that everythings safe and sound at ur end. I did travel back to Mumbai on Friday night..and its raining since morning today. Just heard that flooding has started once me have cancelled my plans to travel Pune tomorw morning. Mite a weeks off before flying out for Delhi...lets see.

Take care...stay at home if its raining outside..dont trust BMC ;)


Phoenix Rises said...

Hi Puneet!
It was raining heavily the whole of today, so doesn't look like we'll be getting back to normal any day soon, but at least the roads weren't as flooded as last week.

Hi Arz000n!
I read in the newspaper today that some people have started the DAM, i.e. Damn Authorities Movement! They are fed up of waiting for the BMC to swing in to action and have decided to help themselves and others with whatever resources they can get their hands on. Once again Bombayites have shown how self-reliant they can be!
And I heard on the radio today that the Bombay-Pune roads are not operational.

Arz000n said...

I'm not leaving for Pune for next couple of days for sure :)

And regarding Once again Bombayites have shown how self-reliant they can be!
This...this attitude which is mentioned above is making our "good-and-hardly-working" politicians take us for granted. Dont you think so?

I hate such corrupted people.

AmitKen said...

Yeah, in past some time I hv not been able to blog reading/writing, as much as I'd like to. But hopefully I'll be more regular now onwards...

btw... Mumbai is facing another round of heavy rains. Aaah.. I feel sick just thinking about it, I wonder how you guys out there actually facing this nature's wrath... Hats off to the human spirit of fighting against all odds.

Phoenix Rises said...

Hey Arz000n!
You know, I never thought about it that way! You may be onto something! Politicians usually don't even need an excuse to slack off! But this one just might be it!

Hey Amitken!
All Bombayites are managing as best as they can I suppose.
Waiting for your latest posts. :)

sharon said...

Thanks for your post to my blog. I appreciate reading your detailed account of the monsoon. Sometimes, it takes a personal account to really fathom the devastation. I used to live in southern Louisiana, and I remember Hurricane Andrew (i was 10...) it was devastating to me. My heart goes out to all of you. Let's hope its over for now!

Phoenix Rises said...

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for your appreciation! :)
Being present when disaster strikes is really so different from when you just see images flashing on your TV screen!

Sierrabella said...

I'm saddened to read this, but the spirit of the people will pull you through this ordeal.

Manish said...

Long time no new post PR!

Anyway happy frenship day!

AmitKen said...


PuNeEt said...

Hope alls well...
Long time no C


Phoenix Rises said...

Hey guys!
The reason for me not blogging for sometime now is explained in my latest, shortest post! :)