August 29 Rains

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Tue 29th August 2017 a date marked in my calendar for a client training in Andheri. Initially, it seemed to be a regular rainy day. I started early to reach the venue before time., lucky enough to get a rickshaw instantly although it was pouring heavily. Before reaching midway I realized it was not just a regular rainy day. It was raining heavily with wind crashing in and around my rickshaw. I was already drenched and severely worried about my laptop. Hoping today it doesn’t turn out to be another 26/7 stuck in Andheri again where I suffered floating in water till my neck, staying back in office in dirty wet clothes without water and electricity.

Struggled today with traffic and waterlogging everywhere, soaked completely I reached the venue for the training. Within half an hour my client informed me that we had to wind up the training as soon as possible as the trains have almost shut and there was severe waterlogging everywhere. We left around 3:30 pm wondering how we can reach home. There was water, traffic and heavy rain. I was again lucky enough to get a rickshaw as it was going to close to the destination I lived. I was very happy at least this time I can reach home back to my family.

My happiness was short-lived, very soon was stuck in heavy traffic jam and took more than 4 hours to reach Nahur bridge where it was completely flooded. I offered a lift to another woman who wanted to go Mulund. Our rickshaw felt like a boat and very soon we had our rickshaw submerged halfway in dirty gutter water. The rickshawala kept driving and we were successful to cross the water which was above the knee level. The women got down after a while and we wished each other to reach safely.

Within 5 minutes I could hear a lot of chaos and people shouting. To my horror, there were two huge trees who were on the verge of falling and my rickshaw was right in front of it. They had closed the other side of the road but this side was jammed and nowhere to move ahead. I just prayed hard. We had moved a bit away from the trees then the rickshawala refused to take me any further as beyond this point the water was above the waist level and certainly he didn’t want to take any chance. I could understand his concern and thanked him for at least driving me in this unpredictable weather and paid him double than the usual fare as a token of appreciation.

Now I was all on my own in dirty water till knees, and rains from top struggling with the umbrella, my handbag and my biggest concern my laptop bag. I started walking towards my home and noticed all the vehicles had come to a standstill and were in the same place for more than 2 hours. The water levels kept on changing and I was determined to reach home back to my kids and family. Finally, after a roller coaster journey of more than 5 hours, I managed to reach home. My husband’s team members couldn’t make it home so they stayed with us., prepared dinner so we could eat and rest after the long day.

Few thoughts which came while lying on the bed. Being Mumbaikar we certainly help each other in difficulties, stand by each other and call it Spirit of Mumbai with pride. But has it really changed? 12 years back I was in the same situation and couldn’t make it home, this time I managed with so much struggle. Has the situation changed or we Mumbaikars have accepted a certain way of living and we don’t seem to get affected as next day we are back on track?

Through this platform I would like to make an appeal, can we change the situation and give a better future for our generations where we can enjoy the rains and not getting scared of not making it back to my family.

– Article by Rupali Gautam

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