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'Nothing stops the Mumbai spirit'

July 27, 2005 04:55 IST
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More Monsoon Tales: 1 - 2

Most of the people in my office had a resigned look because trains, buses, cabs had all come to a standstill in the rain. But not this girl. She was determined to get back home.

'My parents won't eat if I am not there.' So being a true boy scout, I decided to accompany her.

The road outside our office in Mahim was flooded. It was flowing like a river. We waded through, then dragged our feet lest we stumble into a gutter.

We reached the main road where I saw the spirit of Mumbai. And once again I was proud of being a part of this city. The traffic was at a standstill. There was complete chaos but the Mumbai cops were not giving up. They still continued to direct traffic.

There were more people walking on the road than inside cars or buses. Mahim Causeway was flooded. The water level was so high that we could reach out and touch it. But the flood of people walking eclipsed the floods. They were laughing, singing, dancing and no one was complaining.

This is what makes Mumbai the commercial capital of the country. Not the money, but the spirit of its people.

There were young men on the streets keeping people away from potholes and gutters. They were dripping wet but looking after strangers. A few men directed us into the fishermen colony on the Causeway. They told us it would be better than the main road. So we followed the crowd.

In our village in Tamil Nadu, we have a saying 'oru odu ottu odu' -- which means when the village runs you run with it, don't ask questions. So we followed the crowd into the fishermen colony. There was a path. It was so crowded that we could not open our umbrellas. We just walked with the crowd. Just then a loud shout went up as one young girl fell into a gutter. She got up minus her slippers which were lost in the water, shook herself and continued to walk.

Next to the Bandra flyover, the water was raging and the sea looked like it was rising. We continued to walk, reached the other side of the Causeway and entered Bandra.

The traffic here was moving, but still slower than the people. There was this man who was shouting and singing. There were children with inflated car tyres. They were floating on them. One man was talking on his mobile phone ignoring the rain completely.

The road was still flooded at the corner of the road to Hill road. We waded through slowly. The crowd was swelling faster than the water. The cops here were also trying to control the traffic. In their yellow raincoats they stood out in the crowd.

We reached Turner Road. The petrol pump at that corner was crowded. Cars were still filling petrol. People were withdrawing money from the ATM. Some people were shopping inside. Thankfully, Turner road wasn't flooded.

We could walk freely. There were cars, cabs, autos on the road as if nothing was amiss. We reached her home. The grocer told us that her mother had ordered candles. He didn't know why. He did not know that there were areas in Mumbai reeling without power.

The wine shops were doing roaring business. A peg can work miracles on a rainy day. Walking back to office I realised that the traffic was still not moving. But the flow of people had not only increased but they were actually walking faster.

The rains may have paralysed the city of Mumbai. It had failed to paralyse the spirit of the people. In office they were clapping for this guy who had come to work from Kandivili. He had walked to work. So what if it took four hours.

-- A Ganesh Nadar

We tried to go home in the afternoon, but as there were no vehicles ready to carry us, we returned to our office. We are now staying in the office because we feel it will be safer to do so.

For the food part, well, we have lot of snacks in our office, on which we have survived.

-- Rakesh Peerannawar

A couple of hours delay in being asked to evacuate the office at 4 pm has now spelt an overnight stay in the office for around 300 odd people. With the rains continuing unabated, it is highly likely that I will be one of the many that I have seen in the news waiting for food packets on the rooftop of our 6 storeyed office structure from the IAF J.

Though technically speaking we are located in the centre of the city in Chandivali, Andheri, it feels like we are in the middle of nowhere. The water in and around Chandivali is knee-deep and even if one were to manage to clear this, all crucial access like Saki Naka, Aarey Powai Naka, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road is inundated with waist high water.

The phone lines (landline and mobile) seem to be perennially jammed. No electricity at home also resulted in no information via the innumerable news channels that most of the time believe in sensationalising rather than reporting facts.

"Please bear with us for a better tomorrow" is what I read when I was stranded in my company bus on my way home in the evening. I am not sure even if there will be a tomorrow worth waiting for in the present situation.

To end the tale I must say that Vilas Vaidya, chief officer, disaster management is an exemplary officer in the way he has successfully ensured that disaster is managed and wrecks havoc in our normal existence.

On behalf of distraught Mumbaiites, courtesy no warning/planning from the government.

-- Phani Kumar Doddala

Rains lash Mumbai putting everything to a grinding halt but the spirit of Mumbaikars is on the very high.

I live in Mulund and had to travel to Thane. I hopped on my bike not expecting to see so much water and realising how affected the city was. But what impressed me most were the hundreds of people walking home from places as far as Ghatkopar and Vikhroli to reach their homes in Mulund, Thane and Kalwa.

Can one imagine this happening anywhere else in the world? Nothing stops the Mumbai spirit.

-- Srini Viswanathan

This was one of the most ferocious rain I have ever seen. I had a very stunning experience. I had gone to visit one client at Nirlon Compound at Goregaon.

I left the client's office at around 4.00 PM and took my car and started to come towards the main gate of Nirlon compound. It was raining heavily but does not seem any thing unusual.

Suddenly I saw some Ashoka trees adjacent to the compound wall of Nirlon Compound started bowing exceptionally low and I realised the danger. I was about to turn and suddenly the wall at my right side broke and a tremendous amount of water poured in the compound.

Before I could realise any thing I experienced that my car is floating in the water and I lost complete control over my car.

The flowing water drove my car for more than 100 feet. I was trying to balance my car not to let it turn upside down by moving from one seat to another. I was totally helpless.  Somehow my car came to the side of the road.

I pulled hand brake and shut off the engine. My car was at a relatively safe halt. I saw out. the whole road was converted in a flooded river. I shouted for help.

Some people rushed from Nicholas rushed for my help. I was sitting helplessly in the car. They managed to walk through the flow of water and helped me to come out of the car.

I was saved.

Thanks to all those who helped me. Thanks to god.

-- Kiran

Working at Mahape New Mumbai itself had been an experience. Today had a meeting scheduled at Powai at 4 pm.

While it had been raining during the day, we were all too busy to take note of any disruptions. Left office at 3.15 pm, it just takes 45 minutes to reach Powai from Mahape. However when we came out on main road, the reality struck us. It was a chaos, hordes of people waiting for some form of public conveyance.

Made quick decision, let's get back to office and ensure that everyone leaves early before situation worsens. Transport coordinator came back, with response that earliest it will be 5 pm when buses could be available for dropping people. So let it be 5 pm.

Many youngsters in office were blissfully unaware of the world outside, worried about their scheduled calls with customers in the US. It took quite a amount of convincing and talking to customers to make them leave office.

Colleagues back at Powai, were still calling. "Come for meeting, even if it's late, any way you are staying at Hiranandani only". Wow! what a devotion, I thought.

Started finally at 5.45 after pushing the bulk of people out of office. At the steering wheel it was a champions challenge. Thane-Belapur Road is chock-o-block. Let's take MIDC road, we turn into MIDC a huge pool of water with stranded cars welcomes us. "Take the next road", similar scene. Finally the fourth route was only knee deep and car passed through and we were at Airoli Bridge. Mobiles? What is it, continuously it said "call failed". The network had not been able to take load, despite tall claims.

"Oh God! what a drive" , it was already 6.45pm, the ride from AIroli to Powai was smooth. There were hardly any vehicles, people asking for lift to reach home.

As I turned into Hiranandani Gardens, I had a sigh of relief. "Finally, at home". But the best or worst was yet to come. The elite, Hiranandani area had turned into a pool. Main roads had water flowing like river, it looked as it
car would be swept away by strong stream of water coming from hills.

Somehow reached home and parked the car in the safety of stilt parking, covered from rains. Just when I was relaxing with a hot cup of tea, the watchman appears.

"sir the ground floor is getting flooded, please take out your car to 2 levels above at Podium".

-- Rishikesh Joshi

I was stranded at Ashokvan near Shanti Nagar, Borivali-East with Sanjay Gandhi National Park releasing its dam water. It flooded the whole of Shanti Nagar. To my terror, a Tata Indica which was parked on the road was submerged in the waters up to its windscreen, started to drift due to sheer force of the flowing water and nearly went for about 25 meters. Not to mention that there were many people and debris caught in these raging waist-deep waters. The water levels are still high, (at 11.40 pm). After a five-hour wait, I dared the waters to go ahead.

-- Dr Ninad Shah

Being in office was the best I could do.

I did not want to wade through water, and just decided to wait. To my surprise, colleagues who had left at 4:30 pm were coming back! So I chuckled to myself, said well done and went on with patience.

-- Krishna Daswani

The horrifying Tuesday!

That's what I call it. I had to come all the way from my college, K J Somaiya Coll of Engg, Vidyavihar to Prabhadevi, and I had to walk the whole distance. If that sounds terrible, all the rickshaws and cabs were just turning down requests to come to Prabhadevi! And at places like Sion and Dadar, I had to swim through the dirty water! A nasty experience, that what I call it!

-- Gaurav Shetti

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