21 August 2008

Rains and the Spirit of Mumbai

July and August are monsoon months in India. The showers are needed not only to cool down the summer tempers but also to cater to water requirements for the whole year. As per 2001 census, nearly 12 million persons were residents of Mumbai and its suburbans (note that another six million reside in urban Thane). Despite its advantages, heavy downpours cause inconvenience to road, rail and air commuters. It brings in the picture of 26th July of 2005, a nightmare for Mumbaites. This year, 1st July was somewhat close. I was to catch a 10 O' clock flight to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). I could not make it on time. However, what I encountered on my journey was the spirit of Mumbai.

It had been raining the previous night and I decided to leave early for the airport. I joined my and daughter in the latter's school trip. I had thought of getting an auto or a taxi at Dindoshi, but no one was willing to go. Luckily, I had shifted my luggage to a bad, so I started walking till the Western Express highway bus stop. While waiting here a rental car on its way back stopped and I popped in with another bystander. After hitting the Goregaon flyover we realized that the traffic is stranded. We could not reach Hub even after 45 minutes. My co-passenger as well as driver offered their mobiles through which I could pass the message to Nandini that I am still in Goregaon and that she could pass on the message to other colleagues who were also traveling with me to Trivandrum and had issued the boarding pas on my behalf. My co-passenger paid the taxi driver, who was refusing to take any money. I got down and started walking to find the road flooded. While wading through water, it was a truck driver who came to my rescue. He signaled that I hang while he drove across the submerged part. Once on the other side, I hitched on to a bike which took me near Andheri. After walking for some time, I again got the help of another biker who tried all tricks to take me as near to the airport and when he realized that he could not go further he wished me luck and I started walking through a traffic jam and submerged road till I got a BEST bus. Got down near the airport and started my walk again. By the time I reached the check-in counter the doors of my flight was closed and it was queued for taxing. I was accommodated in a Kochin flight from where I took a taxi to the Alwaye railway station and from there a train to Trivandrum and reached the dinner gathering for the conference after 13 hours of traveling. This was possible because many people, whose names I do not know, who helped. I thank them and the rains for making me witness the spirit of Mumbai.

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