Vantage point

Thursday, July 28, 2005

My Flood Experience contd

Then an hour later, power supply was restored to some parts of Kalina. Immediately a phone booth, located in the "lighted side" opened for business. A long queue formed in front of it, with me in the 20th position or so. However the phone lines were unable to handle these lines. Each person entered the booth, dialled a few numbers, then put the receiver down and came out shaking their head saying that they couldn't get through. Sure enough when I tried to call up people, the response was "All lines in this route are busy".

I strolled around the market for a while. People were buying milk, water, biscuits, and were discussing the tragedy at Air India Colony. After an hour spent in the market, I had a mini brainwave. I went home, got my mobile phone charger and requested a bakery in the "lighted zone" to plug it in. Even though mobile phones were still not working, my phone has FM radio, so it was providing me some info about what was happening in the city. Things looked pretty grim. Apparently most of the office-goers were still stuck on the roads, more than 24 hours after they left.

Once my phone was fully charged I went home. Listened to FM radio. The cellular networks were limping back. Every few minutes there would be a couple of indicator-bars worth of network. I would send and receive a few text messages before the network would conk off again.

I fell asleep contemplating the scale of the disaster. I was positive that no major city in the world had ever been lashed by rains of this intensity. And considering how rapidly Kalina was flooded, there had definitely been a cloud burst. In the face of that, it was admirable how the city seemed to be coping with the situation. None of the people in Kalina market were whining or complaining. All of them had a look of quiet determination on their faces. Did the administration and the government do its job well? I didn't know then and I still don't know. But the common man had responded admirably. Even though everything was scarce, the shopkeepers had not jacked up prices. Most of them kept their shops open way beyond normal hours. They even sold a lot of stuff on honour-credit, because cash machines weren't working.

Today morning, there was absolutely no rain. But the power was still not back in my neighbourhood. Apparently some transformers in our phase were still under a bit of water and resuming the power supply would unleash a series of short circuit fires. Water had entered our elevator duct, so our building was a definite candidate for short-circuit. It looked like power would not be restored until Friday morning.

The radio was full of stories narrated by people who had walked more than 10-15 kilometres in knee deep water to reach home the previous day. The newspaper was then delivered, though a bit late. It spoke about the fire at Bombay High. Looks like disaster had arrived in Bombay in full force.

In the afternoon, after hours of trying I finally got through to Sunil. Apparently there was power in his place in Vile Parle. I caught a rickshaw and came here. The Western Express Highway was lined with bloated carcasses of buffaloes.

So that's been my flood experience so far. Apparently there are warnings of another "repeat performance" tonight. Will keep you posted, electricity permitting.