Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Grey Rain

300 mm in 4 days. Welcome to the wettest start of the Mumbai monsoon in 7 years.

Its as if someone emptied a huge celestial bucket on us. Last week we were sweltering. This week drenched. No subtle transition. No lingering thunder in the horizon. Just a straight drench. The buildings already their monsoonal grey. All roads sprouting their muddy potholes - I saw a man suddently sink down to his calves in one - thinking it was just a shallow puddle.

Though we crib about our leaky walls - in our 7 year old appartment building - there is real unadulterated misery in the vast sprawl of shanties/substandard tentements where the bulk of our people live. The water just doesn't stop - there is no place to dry anything - all turns to damp - and mould. And then there is the matter of walking about outside. Liquid filth swirls. No way but through it - pants rolled up as much as possible...

The thing I noticed this year - in the very first week of our dear monsoon is the lack of light. We are so used to the sun - to not see it all day - to be overcast with grey brings a sombreness to everything. It makes me remember the grey days of school in 3rd standard - the weak tube-lights in the cavernous rooms and the vague menace of the school books.

And all of this for me who has an almost God-like freedom to go where I want - whenever. On Monday I was whizzing around on our scooter, doing some odd jobs, and passed a man in the rain. He was using an orthodpaedic walking frame to move forward, his leg was in some kind of a cast/bandage. It was sheathed in plastic. He had a black plastic bag he used as a hood. Where was he going? Why did he need to walk so far in such a pathetic state? Who looks after him? What was he doing out there - soaked?

And what of the man who can't even leave his bed. The steady drip and dampness his only companion. Or Mrs. Mimosa whose roof (if you can dignify it with that name) is riddled with holes? Her alcoholic son off to work for 12 hours a day. The little girl she has to help her showing up occasionally as she was beaten by the son. A small alarm clock tells her when she has to take her ART medications at 9 AM and 9 PM - but she rarely gets to eat food - let alone be cared for in comfort in her leaking shack.

There may be green on the hillsides. But it is looking pretty grey in the great city of ours.

1 comment:

  1. Woa. Quite the rain. As we have relatives suffering through the massive flooding in Iowa, it is humbling to consider the power of a deluge -- and also the blessings of having a roof over our heads.

    I recall some 15 years ago, visiting Mumbai just before the monsoons. The sweltering heat was intense -- and then being shocked a week later to see pictures of the same streets we were on -- with people wading through waist deep water.

    We are certainly blessed by frequent and continual rainfall -- the tropical thunderstorms are intense, awe-inspiring, but short lived -- generally coming in the afternoons. The last three days have been without rain -- and it feels eerily dry.