Extreme Rainwalking

It rained in Mumbai yesterday like it has never rained in India before, with 37 inches of rain, thereby beating the high-school trivia of Cheerapunji, which had some 30 inches of rain in 1910. It poured, oh-my-freaking-heavens, it poured. I was mostly in my lab through the deluge, now and then flinching at the force with which rains lashed the huge glass walls of my department, which at worst saw some slippery corridors. The worst was elsewhere.

My first reaction was that of ecstasy, with this primitive desire to get drenched in the wonderful rain. So, a few of us guys ventured into a rainwalk from the department to our hostel – the excuse being that we were all hungry. Down the IIT main building road, and well into the road section near the grounds, it was just heavy rains. The intensity of the rains, and the failure of the storm water drainage hadn’t dawned on us yet. The first signs of trouble were near the hostel 11 entrance. H11 is the PG girls hostel, and has a very short roadway from its gate on the main road till the guard booth, and into the hostel itself. The entire road in front of H11 was submerged in ankle deep quick flowing water, all of which converged at the H11 gates, and were gushing through the small gate into the roadway of the hostel like a scene from some disaster movie. White water nightmare with super-quick currents. Cycles were being swept away in front of our eyes. Ecstasy had turned into horror.

As there was no obvious call for help from H11, and we could see a few guards and women watching the floods with some interest, we walked on towards H8, the first men’s hostel on our way. With no power, H8 looked like a gloomy Titanic deck, with knee deep water rushing through the gate into the corridors. I guess all the water from the highlands of the academic area was rushing into these two hostels, on its way into Powai Lake. I also heard that there was some fish in the water that was flowing on the grounds. Sure death awaited anyone who stepped into the drains that surrounded the grounds. 6 feet deep, water rushing at breakneck speeds. Screwed!!

My hostel, H5 greeted us with water rushing in through its gates into the lower rooms of the first wing. My very close friends, KantuPatil, Rajveer, and Kaushal got screwed with knee-to-waist deep water in their rooms. A few computers, beds, clothes, and related stuff got screwed. Surprisingly, the mess was serving some really good food, and we hogged like pigs, hung out at Nishant’s dry room for sometime, and then, walked back the same route back to the department.

Later, I heard that the PG girls had formed human chains to get people into the hostel from the main road, their flooded mess blocking an entire wing, power shutdowns, flooded computer rooms and ground floor residential rooms. H6 and H9 had submerged cycles and cars. The newly constructed H12/13 basement mess was fully submerged in water, with tables and chairs floating all the way up. I have no idea how they cleared it.

This was just IIT. Mumbai suffered more. 50 dead, gazzillions worth of property lost, transportation halted – life came to a stand still. For others who were not so fortunate, it was the end of their normal living conditions. My heart goes out to them.

Similar weather has been forecast for the next 48 hours, and this time, with heavy winds as well. Hopeth against hope that the worst has passed. I love Mumbai rains, but this was not what I had in mind.

Bombay

Bombay is an experience; and esp. after living in a hamlet like Bangalore, Bombay hits me each time I venture out of the campus. And this weekend was especially severe. Two friends (Amit Rathore from ThoughtWorks and Akshay from IIM-Lucknow) were visiting, one for the exclusive purpose of “chilling out” and the other had some official work. But the three of us hit the yuppie circuit here, in full blast. And as Amit said before leaving, it was some severe shit. Restaurants, cafes, bars, beaches, local trains, never ending taxi drives, late late night chilly auto rides, malls, and all the other elements which every urban jungle has. But its sheer scale, and the way things are intertwined here; that is the difference. Amidst all our chaotic travelling and induldence, there was a lot of talk on economics, India, Kannada, Bombay, mis-adventures with women, books and so on. Coffeehouse philosophy at its very best; three geeks, what else can you get?!

Among other things, I got my wallet picked during a local train ride. The irony of it was, this was right after an eye-opening RSS meeting/lunch on Republic Day. Done with blocking all my bank-cards, still have to get new ones, get duplicate identity card, driver’s licence, etc. But, more significantly, all my other personal belongings in the wallet are gone now, and all of them are beyond replacement. All of them, beyond replacement.

Bombay is a cauldron. Lot of heat, tons of volume. A single wallet?