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    Thursday, August 18, 2005 

    woh 7 din

    the blog attempts to capture the plight of a normal mumbaikaar on the 27th of july 2005, the day when hell broke loose, and subsequently:

    The story begins on an ordinary working day in Mumbai, Tuesday 26th July 2005, as the turn of events would have it that ordinary day became extra ordinary for most Mumbaikars:
    I was busy with some urgent work and had not even gone out for lunch, being inside the office with all the curtains drawn I never knew what was going on outside. The rains had been going on since 12 but the real downpour began after around 1. At 4 PM when I was almost ready with my files, the current went off. I thought it was unusual but nothing more than that, but people had started packing their bags and leaving, I joined the crowd and got a lift from my boss, a Mr. Pawar. It was 3rd time in 3 days as we had been working late since last Saturday, but this time instead of the usual 2 of us we were 7 in the car. I was sitting in the front passenger side of the car, with a guy we had nicknamed Bhim (for obvious reasons). These new luxury cars are very good if u r 4-5, but for every extra person it really becomes uncomfortable. My body parts were twisted, making weird angles and the side of the seat with its hard contours was continuously pushing into my back hurting real badly. I couldn’t even change my position coz when I tried my muscles spasmed and in the middle of the road amidst heavy traffic and torrential rainfall I couldn’t even get out and strech my legs. The 1st route that we took was completely flooded so we took a u-turn, the next route was no better as we got stuck in a bumper to bumper traffic situation. One side of the road was overflowing with water so entire traffic had come on the other side and the congestion had worsened, anyway it didn’t make much of a difference. Coz except some vehicles taking a u-turn backwards there was no traffic from the other side. We saw walls being broken coz of the water flow, a car stuck in some hole submerged 2 3 ft. inside water and a tow truck pulling it out, which finally was managed after an hour of our arrival (and a wild guess that at least 2 3 hrs of actual trials, as the tow truck wouldn’t have been able to reach after that), it was a new Santro, jiski hogi uski to jaan atki hui hogi.

    Meanwhile I decided I couldn’t take it any longer and came out of the car, another couple of guys followed and we decided to check out the traffic situation, and if there was any way out. There was hardly any space to even walk on the sides, while the strong water current prevented us from moving on the other side of the road. When we somehow reached the trouble area, the vehicles there looked like a jigsaw puzzle, some of them facing backwards some that had tries to turn their cars but eventually had given up. Just a little ahead we could see the reason for the traffic blockage, the road was sloping downwards and the area ahead was fully submerged in water. We went back with our report and after a little discussion we decided that we would walk back home. Bechare boss ka laptop bhi gaddi mein hi tha, but there was no option really, so he parked the car there itself and we started our march.

    As we walked the water level kept on increasing inch by inch from toes to ankle and upto the knee and a little above. At the side of the road it was above waist height, people had tied ropes to the gates of their building while some held on to it near the center of the road. For moving in or out of the building people had to hold on to them, or else they would have been - literally "swept of their feet".

    In a little while we reached the western express highway (for those who have any idea of Mumbai, we came out from the Jogeshwari link road, and Borivali meant crossing, Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Malad and Kandivali) from where we had to walk straight northwards at least 10-12 km more to reach Borivali. All the flyovers were jam packed with vehicles unable to get down on the road coz of the water logging. It was already dusk by the time we reached the highway and we kept on walking as it grew more and more dark. It wasn’t as if we were the only ones who were walking, with all motorised transportation coming to a halt, the usual train/bus/taxi/auto… commuters were walking home. Occasionally we could see a few cars on the street submerged more than half and some time almost totally on one side of the road. Next day we came to know that many people had broken the divider with the hands and car tools to cross over to the safer side, a lot of them had been unsuccessful and were either stranded on the other side or had got stuck on the divider itself.

    After a few kms the water level receded but the rain gods were showing no mercy, infact at times the rain became so strong that one felt that there were high force hose pipes gushing water at you all the time. The uselessness of umbrellas had been discovered while we had 1st come out of the car so they were just increasing dead weight. Once we crossed Malad and were nearing Kandivali we could see that the traffic was moving a bit, but the couple of buses that crossed us were overflowing with people, the few autos that went by were already overloaded. So we kept walking and walking and walking…

    Finally at around 9 45 we reached home, totally drenched. Fortunately after a day of acting funny my mobile was back to normal. Next day morning I called home to tell that there was no need to worry and stuff but I got no response, later on when it was all over the news they kept trying to call but the connectivity for the next couple of days was very poor.

    I went back to the office the next day and there was no current still (only our building was suffering as the electric feeder of our building was in the basement), many people had spent the night in the office itself (some other building). But I could not complete the files on that day also, it was later declared a half day but I had already left by 11, got a lift from someone who had chosen that day off to celebrate and was going on a picnic with his family. Once on the highway he stopped his car to give lift to some other people as well, pour souls they had not been able to reach home since last night, and had started walking in the morning from Worli. Next day again there was no current in our building, but my boss had turned up on that day and so he suggested we should take our computers to the other block and we worked the whole day, while everyone else had again gone back by 10 30.

    On Sunday it was again the same story flooding in the lower areas, locals cancelled… Monday was declared a half-day again after the news of flood situation worsening in some areas came. Since yesterday everything is back to normal thou we haven’t seen the sun yet but the rains are more normal and distributed.

    One week of my life that I’m never going to forget, and as u might have guessed I don’t have much work to do, after that particular piece of work got over I’ve been bored by idleness, so thought why not write this out finally. Long and boring it might seem, but that’s because what we went through "woh 7 din" is meant to be experienced to believe.

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    • From Mumbai, Maharastra, India
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