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04 June 2006

Monsoon so soon

View of the street where I live

The day after: all wet and wild on the street where I live.
Photo: Paul Ancheta

THE FIRST RAINS of the year arrived heavily in Mumbai last Wednesday, and they threw Mumbai out of gear. Monsoon season normally starts early June, so the heavy downpour took most Mumbaikars—including the regional weather bureau, which forecast “cloudy skies” that day—by big surprise.

“If this is the condition after the first rains, what will it be like in the coming months?”
—MP Priya Dutt
Worse, the rains cast heavy doubt on the monsoon preparedness claims by the city officials, in light of the disastrous deluge on 26 July 2005 (locally known as 26/7). Heavy water logging caused traffic jams and delays and cancellations in railway and airline schedules. Mumbai congresswoman Priya Dutt fumed, “If this is the condition after the first rains, what will it be like in the coming months?”

Hopefully it will not be a city on water standstill, as I saw last Wednesday evening. We were driving back to HyperCity from a suburban agency inspection when the Really Big Rains began. The sidewalks quickly disappeared under cascading water, and the three-lane street became one-lane. By the time I got to HyperCity two hours later, the torrent had stopped, but the showers continued. I learned later that those two hours of downpour were enough to cause the water logging and to grind Mumbai to a halt.

It is time I get three big umbrellas. And a pair of Wellingtons.

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