Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Oh what a day... And it's still just 12.30

Yes they’re finally here and how! Mumbai has been deluged (literally) since Tuesday afternoon and this morning, I was caught in the seemingly never-ending downpour. It felt like the entire Arabian Sea had been sucked up and is being poured back down—in installments!
But it was beautiful. The freshness of the trees, the coolness of the weather, the feeling that all is well with the world, the lateness of the buses… yes, the regulars were all in attendance.
As roads choked up and traffic snarls grew longer, commuters grew uneasier. Natural progression of events, you may say. But the rain was there to make you feel better. For once, the BMC seems to have got its act together. Barring the odd open manhole, pothole and missing roads (you know, the ones without tar or cement), it was a smooth ride to office.
Leaving home at around
8:30 am, we (Tosha and I), proceeded to the nearest ATM to withdraw money. Thereafter, we were stuck for only 15 minutes at the signal under the Andheri flyover. Not bad for a rainy day, I say.
This was followed by a smooth (no pun, really!) ride till the domestic airport when we hit a small jam. This jam eventually let up at the Kherwadi junction at Bandra East. Time taken: 35 minutes. Distance covered: 3 km. Have had worse without the rain, honest.
Then we got off at the Bandra East bus stop (after travelling past MIG Club and giving up the main road) and the auto driver decided this was time to stop in the middle of the road and let us out. For a moment, I thought he was going to do a Moses and create a way for us in that sea (metaphor, mind you) of water under our legs (not feet, since it was about shin deep).
But no. He took his 50 rupee note and left. Oh, well.
Two things had to be done before we resumed our respective journeys… break a Rs 500 note so I didn’t have to fight with the conductor on the bus and she, with the cabbie. The next task entailed heading for the bus stop and hailing a cab and catching a bus respectively.
Task 1: Despite a row of about 10 shops at the corner and with each being infested with customers, none of the shopkeepers had change for a 500. But, as soon as I bought a pack of mints worth Rs 5, the change appeared—almost as magically as the guy who sits inside the ATM handing out money!
This is where the plot thickened.
There was this proverbial sea of water in front of us and more stuff (not just water, mind you) was being added to it with each passing moment. We had to make a run for it. It was now or never. For us, it was never. Tosha spotted a cab on the other side of the road and noticed someone get off. Spotting this as her chance, we both bellowed like never before for the cab to make a U-turn and come this side. But, as a truck passing by had more vocal strength, our shouts were drowned—much like our legs. The water continued to rise.
The BMC has this unique new tiling craze where each corner of every road has been fitted with interlocking tiles. It’s smart considering they need to dig the road every three hours or so. Here, just take it out and fit it back. Much like opening a door, really. But, given our day, there was a patch that had no tiles and I landed in this. Much to my disgust, I also landed in a lot more than I bargained for. Thankfully, there was enough water going around to take care of that.
Coming back to the original predicament, it was time to get on to Task 2 with complete concentration and absolute focus. No time for hocus pocus.
Task 2: We made a run for it. This time, we did it. Crossed the road and made it to the bus shed, that is. Along the way, like two smitten lovers in the rain in a Hindi potboiler, we told each other that we were getting wet. Without getting lost in the profoundity of our statements—it was raining, you see—we carried on and made it to the bus stop. I was a little more drenched than her. Of course, I have more girth and hence more scope to absorb water. Simple geometry (and I thought I’d never use it in daily life).
Once at the bus stop, we confronted our newest, well, adversary. Wind. It changed direction at will and no amount of us changing direction beat it. We were the ones left guessing. I need more practice with this, you know.
While I made up my wind about which side of me I could let get wet, Tosha was busy scouring the landscape for a cab with the meter saluting… and not at half-mast or in mourning. After 10 minutes of trying, we spotted one. More importantly, he spotted us. We waved frantically… after all, he was our saviour. As he tried to muscle his way through and get to us, the fact that there were a couple of risks involved dawned upon me… one, someone else might hop in or two, he may never make it, getting washed into the sea (sic) of traffic and flowing away never to be seen again.
Considering both possibilities, we swung into action and ran to him. More like fast walked, but you get the point. Soon, in about 17.454 seconds, that is, we were there. And Tosha was in a cab and I was getting wet. “Turn around you idiot and go into the bus shed,” she shouted. I concurred.

Task completed with success and a pat on the back was in order.
Back in the shed, and with time at hand to think about what-not, it was interesting to notice how different people react to rain. There were some who were content waiting for their bus sitting while others, including yours truly, looked on—peering, squinting to read numbers, jostling for space, et al—for the elusive bus.
In this melee, was this very interesting group. Interesting, because I could have handed them a certificate of idiocy. They ran towards every bus as if this was the one they wanted. But returned to the shed on seeing this was not the one. After doing this for about five buses, they took turns for another five. Finally, better sense prevailed and they asked one of the fellow sufferers where the stop for bus No. 84, going to Peddar Road, was. He replied it was on the other side of the suburb. “But we were told it’s just outside the station”, complained idiot no. 3. “On the west, not east,” informed the enlightened soul.
Gradually, they accepted their fate, took it in their stride, stuck out a hand and hailed a cab. This was going to be a costly mistake. This set me wondering, you know. Not about how people get lost, but about how they got a cab so easily and we didn’t (refer Tasks 1 and 2 for details about this adventure).
After fighting to stay dry for about 20 minutes, I gave up and came out and stood on the road. Anything you do, go all the way is my mantra. I won’t shower tomorrow. That’s it!
Finally, I saw the magical number on the horizon. It was, at first, a small 505 in red and as it grew bigger, my heart grew warmer, the continuing rain notwithstanding. Pushing my way through (now size matters, eh?), I got in only to find a 1x1 square foot space available. This is what I would call home for the next 45 minutes. Finally, after an uneventful journey till TISS, I got place to sit. This was also about the time when I heard a ruckus at the back (yes, I had gone with tide, as it were, and was now in the front seat behind the driver). Someone didn’t have change for a 500 and the conductor refused to oblige. I am smart, I thought to myself. But in due course, I was to be proven wrong.
I diverted my thoughts to other things like the new house, how I missed my car and how it was cruel that of all days, I had to travel by bus just as it had started to rain… you know the usual sulking.
But, then we reached Vashi soon enough, and my destination was in sight. Or so I thought. It would be wise to inform the reader(s) that prior to this, I have not gone to office by this particular bus. I have used a combination of a couple of others yesterday (No 384 to BARC and then No 504 to Nerul; on Monday, I took No 507 to Santacruz East station) and the train before that. Mostly, though, it was by car. The 505 Ltd had been used only till Vashi.
Leaving Vashi depot, the bus went along Vishwajyot and continued on towards Turbhe. Odd, I thought. Wasn’t this a longer route? Moreover, only two people got off till we reached Nerul and none got on. What a colossal waste of time and resources. Anyway.
Getting off at the LP junction, (thankfully, a truck came across and I could jump out before the actual stop which is about 1/2 a km and you cant even jump on to the service road because there’s a gorge in between) I found an auto and ordered, “To Om Sagar Building.” In five minutes, I was at the gates of mercy (office, you know, with AC and more importantly at this point, a clean loo!) only to be held back further. I had given away all the change from my mint purchase to Tosha and was left with a Rs 100 note as the lowest denomination. The fare: Rs 10. How did this happen? All that planning, foresight, washed away (sic) in a moment?
No amount of asking arund helped and I finally had to take Rs 10 from the security guard which I plan to return at lunch time. Finally, I am at work and it’s also about time I did some—work, that is. Ironically (or maybe thats what life’s like, it stopped raining five minutes after I entered office. It was 11.20 am. Almost three hours for 36 km. It takes me about 50 min by car.
I shall chronicle my return journey tomorrow. Something tells me it will be just as eventful.
Cheers. (I wish I could).

posted by Scribbler @ 12:43 am

My Photo
Location: Pune, Maharashtra, India

I'm a photographer, writer, geek and sports fan!

Powered by Blogger

Design by Beccary
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Scribbler-A. Make your own badge here.

Get Firefox!