Here’s a first from ‘Pages from my life’. A personal account of a rainy day in Mumbai. Whether you’re influential, not-so influential, rich, poor, otherwise, you cannot escape a natural calamity. An incident that brought every Mumbaikar at common ground and made them all equal. An incident that brings to light the incapability of the political system of the financial backbone of India.
How about being nicely cuddled up in bed, watching the rains pour down your window pane? Always a fabulous option over getting out of that bed, getting ready and making it to work amid the havoc. I am late any ways because I decided to spend 5 extra minutes in bed. Those 5 minutes got stretched to a whole half hour because on that blessed day the snooze alarm on my phone died out of battery. I am 2 minutes away from the bus stop and the clouds cast their spell again. I realise I have forgotten my umbrella at home between all the rush. I make a quick decision, get wet or get more late. I decide on the first. I enter an overcrowded bus and people look at me like, ‘Dude, have you saved your umbrella for the winter?’
The bus starts moving, at a pace that could give a snail some competition. I can’t do much, hence I wait and wait and wait. A 30 minute journey that takes over 40 minutes on that day. Ten minutes is a huge amount of time when you are running late. Finally relieved I have reached my stop, I get off and start walking. And what do I spot? The place looks alien. I have gotten off at the wrong stop. Really? Am I dreaming?… Look again. No point. ‘Have I to do this on a day like this?’ I look behind, my bus had just left. I make peace and take a rickshaw. The saga with the potholes continue, reminding me of that adventurous camel ride back in Rajasthan. So, after another 15 minutes or so, there I was, walking into my office, as my boss was stepping out. He greeted me, “Good morning… oh is it morning yet?”
And if that was not all, let me tell you, this would have still been an ordinary day knowing the space-struck creature that I am. But it was the monumental 26th of July, 2005. It wasn’t complete without a 3-hour long walk on my way home in waist-deep water.
Four years later, I don’t think I’ve changed so much. I’m still as much as a space cadet as I was then. I still get off at wrong stations now that I travel by train, put steel spoons in microwave, walk into glass doors and miss my home on my way home. ‘But where’s the water in Mumbai?’ Is building a freaking bridge over 9 years and then debating what the name should be a bigger concern than rain water harvesting? ‘The Joshis, the Deshmukhs, the Dutts, the Thakreys, are you guys planning to kill us either ways, if not through choked drains, then with the mere stench of human perspiration this time?’ Let me tell you, if you came out with a brilliant idea of a car pool, I have one for you. Save water, bathe with your opposition party member.