Monday, September 24, 2007

Monsoon Mania

The monsoon has been dealing us a tough hand this week. It has been raining nearly nonstop from Saturday through Monday. In the evening, just before work was about to end, I received an IM from a friend.

"It looks like it's going to rain 40 days and 40 nights," she typed. As usual, I am complete unprepared for any type of weather.

"Is there a spare umbrella in the office?" I typed. I was not looking forward to standing out in the rain in front of Menoka Cinema waving my hands frantically at any cab that might pass by...

She responded, "I don't think so. I have one, but not a spare."

"How easy is it to get cabs in a downpour like this?" I asked.

"Not that easy," she said. "We can share a cab and I'll drop you off. The thing is that I don't know where we'll be able to catch a cab in this weather. They're also going to charge a lot. We might have to get on a bus or an autorickshaw."

"All the way to Jadavpur?" I asked.

"One of the many adventures Kolkata has to offer," she replied. Yeah, I guess so... :-)

I was not looking forward to that. Neither option was very appealing. My next thought was asking someone at the front office. There is one person I can always count on to help me out and he was busy with a number of other things. I begged him, "please. please, please... can you help out a foreigner who barely knows her way home, doesn't speak the language... yada, yada, yada..." and he came through. He let me know that one of the other GLs (Group Leaders) would provide me and my coworker with a way home. What a relief.

Just then, my coworker IM'd me again. "Save everything on your computer because water is getting in." I found this a bit hard to believe because there are four steps up into the office. I contacted the GL, confirmed when/where to meet and decided to wait with the rest of the folks outside the office. I turned off my computer, turned off my lights, and opened the main door to find water half way up the steps and rising. I now understood why everybody was walking around with their pants rolled up around their knees, as I was now doing the same.

We waited outside commiserating with other workers while we waited for the GL. The water just up to my knees. It was starting to rain again. The GL came around the corner and beckoned us to move along. We followed him a short way down the lane to a car half submerged in the street. He opened the door and the water poured straight in, filling every available space. When we got in the back, the water was about halfway up our shins. The car started, much to my surprise, considering its tail pipe was under water. I kept my window open so I could see where we were going. There was not a lot of traffic on Southern Avenue, but the water was halfway up the side of the car. People would yell from the sides of the street because of the wake the car was producing as we passed. None of the homeless were anywhere to be found, but the stray dogs were sleeping on tops of piles of sand or bricks or anything high enough to keep them dry.

As we got closer to GolPark, the water got shallower but there were a lot more cars to navigate around, some stalled in the middle of the roundabout. As we climbed over the bypass, I wished I'd had a cup or something to start bailing out the water from the car. Everytime we started or stopped a wave of water would end up in your lap.

Heading south, traffic became really snarled. We were stuck at the light from hell where Gariahat Road and Prince Anwar Shah Road meet - then we realized why - there was a huge tree down on the north side blocking all traffic. They were using the north side of the road for traffic going in both directions. The car would rock side to side due to the waves of bigger truck and cars... It was really a madhouse. I was really glad to arrive home safe and sound.

I opened the door and asked Will to get me a bucket and antiseptic to soak my feet and legs. Both the GL and my coworker strongly advised me to, since "you never know what's in the water". One of my direct reports at the office has been out sick with Typhoid, so I took their advice. I went out on the terrace to see the extent of the water problem and I seriously couldn't see any streets. Some of the ground floor spaces looked flooded. Lots of lights were out. Then I saw a firework go off. Then two. Will came out and we watched fireworks going off all over the city. We still have no idea why, as the rain misted down a firework would burst open to the left, then the right, and then far to the north near the Howrah bridge.

Will said, "I'm hungry, let's eat. It's wet out here." No kidding.

8 comments:

Palak said...

The Fireworks was in celebration of India winning against Pakistan in Twenty20 Cricket World Cup Final in SA. :-)

Anonymous said...

So you have got an idea of one of the many adventures of being in Kolkata. Not everyone was so lucky to get a car of the colleague. :(
Most of them had to pass the sea or river or whatever you want to call it and not a single bus or cab was ready to go. We were lucky that someone was kind enough to give us a lift in the cab. We were more lucky that the cab didnot breakdown in the middle of the sea and we reached home safe and sound. :)

ying said...

it is monsoon season, people have to
go thru this ritual of waterlogging.

Anonymous said...

it is monsoon season, it is waterloging time.

Jeanne Heydecker said...

Exactly what is this waterlogging thing? The next day, half my team was out because of it. And I'm SURE the cricket match had NOTHING to do with it... :-)

Anonymous said...

You are lucky enough that you got a cab of your colleague but we were not lucky like you on that day. We had to go through all the dirty water on our way to home. It was totally dark outside with water almost to our waist level. There was always a fear that we can be electrified at any time if there is any electric wire torn up from the electric pole floats in the water. Not a single cab was ready to go. We were literally begging to the cab to go to our way to home. We were even ready to pay them double fare but they simply ignore us. We were almost in the midst of the sea with waves coming one after another. We returned home with our hearts in the mouth. Thanks to GOD that we returned home safe. There is water-logging problem every year during the monsoon season but this is the first time that the situation has turned so worse. Don't worry this does not happen regularly in the monsoon time....it's an exception.

Rohit Jain said...

Aha,
that was a nice post, so fresh so watery ;)

As for the waterlogging......welcome to Kolkata, there is more to come. And it seems it will take you some time before you keep your antiseptics at a side after an 'eventful' rain....we are used to (read: we enjoy) it (rain).

Anyways, happy moving.

Cheers,
Rohit

Mitzi & Jerry said...

You posted on my blog. And yes, we are in Kolkata. I love reading about your experiences. We have just started the apartment hunt!

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