The most significant characteristic about Mumbai is that it is absolutely unpredictable. And anything that happens in Mumbai leaves an impact that could shake us to the core. The advent of monsoons was no different. The clouds burst with the showers of its blessings and a million droplets poured down as if to shake mother earth awake.
Me and Dewy were in office with our noses glued to our monitors, pretending to be hard at work (we were actually playing online sudoku, googling for “Best pastimes during office hours”, and of course reading blogs), when somebody yelled out ‘Heavy Rains! Get home as soon as possible!” I am not sure if it was the fear after last year’s floods or relief at receiving an excuse to abandon work, but people started rushing out like hippopotamuses whose tails were on fire. Well, we were quick to follow suit.
We reached the ground floor of the building to find all the hippopotamuses flocked together, scared to step out into the heavy rain. Honoring my irresponsible and forgetful self, I didn’t have an umbrella. Inspite of this we bravely plunged ourselves into the rain huddled under a single umbrella. Our “we-should-get-a-paramvir-chakra-for-this” expression was washed away when water splashed from all directions at us. Inspite of the umbrella, in just a couple of seconds we were completely drenched, except for a small area on top of our heads, were a middle-aged man would be beautifully bald. Nonetheless, because of the shame of returning back we carried on like a pair of wet Siamese twins hiding under a giant mushroom. It was so windy that I thought Dewy’s frail frame, along with her peacock hairstyle and crooked smile, would be ‘Gone with the wind’. Thank God, she was holding onto a heavy handbag which anchored her to earth.
We reached the place where we usually catch a shared cab only to find a huge queue for it. There were hardly any cabs available because of the rains. After waiting for a long time, we were contemplating on whether to expose our ‘tange’ inspired by Pooja Bhatt in ‘Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi’, when finally a couple of cabs came. But people rushed at it as if it was a matter of life and death. Finally I got my turn and sat in it.
My relief only lasted for five minutes till I reached the station. It was so crowded that I was doubtful I would even have air to breath. I stepped out into the mob and was soon swallowed by it. Hundreds of us moved slowly from the entrance of the station to the railway platform huddled together like fetuses in the enormous womb of Mumbai local railways. But even such a time men could not cease to be MEN!!! They were religiously entertaining themselves by grabbing at whatever flesh they could get their hands on. While I was trying hard to hold on to my 10 cm. sq. of space.
So like fetuses trying to find their way out of the womb, we slowly made our way to the platform. People who stay in Mumbai would be able to appreciate the challenge involved in entering into a local train. I sometimes wish a miracle would turn me into a heavy-weight sumo wrestler for just that half a minute when the train stops, so that I could hurl everybody away and find my way into the train (except that I hope I don’t get stuck in the entrance of the train). Even without the miracle I pushed my way into the train (which arrived after a long wait) only to the sandwiched between two fat stinking aunties, knowing exactly how a burger felt. The one thing that Mumbai local trains and maternity wards would have in common is their slogan - ‘Push!!!’… ;-)
After being ‘burger’-ised for almost two hours the train reached my destination. I pushed my way yet again this time out of the train and took a deep breathe of relief. I thought my eyes would swell with tears of happiness like it does in beauty pageants; but the drama was not over yet. None of the rickshaw walas were willing to go to the place where I stay. There were many of us waiting hoping somebody would take mercy on us. Suddenly, at the corner of the road I saw a ric stopping and people getting out. I ran with all my might and asked the rickshawwala.”Poonam Nagar chaloge?” He answered reluctantly, ‘Madam, Bohot traffic hai, pani bhara hua hai.” I met his eyes, mine pleading to his and a soft whisper of prayer escaped my lips, “Bhaiyaa…” He thought for a moment and said, ‘Chalo, baito.” I felt like kissing his balding head but I refrained myself and quietly sat in the ric instead. After an exciting rollercoaster ride (some of the few moments in life that I remember God!), as he maneuvered through the traffic and the poring rain, I finally reached home.
I collapsed into my bed as if after a war. I swore to myself I would rather go on my knees before an unassuming chicken on the street and beg it to bestow its flu on me rather than go through this again. But I guess this war would continue each day of the monsoons. Sigh…