That dreadful day

recapitulation from memory

This article was written on the afternoon of July 27, 2005 after coming walking all the way from bandra to goregaon. After writing, i was just browsing the e-edition of mid-day newspaper for latest news. Also saw kannada e-paper and udayavani sunday edition. In kannada e-paper there was not much of news about this. I thought I should convey our well being our people through this media, which reaches mass very rapidly. I wrote a detailed article on my experience and sent the same to For my surprise, the article was published with 10 minutes – without editing. I am trying to put before you that article in english version.

See, how one rain can show the entire man kind of above one crore and a metropolitan city as negligible. In one stroke it showed the doors of hell. nature has shows its visvarupa. I am placing before the truth which I saw and experienced.

At this juncture, I want to share one hindi song which is apt for that day’s (July 26) evening.

roz sham ati thi magar o vaisa na thi
That dreadful day, July 26th. My daughter had gone to her college at andheri. since morning it was pouring heavily. Usually even during heavy people would be doing there daily chores, as usual. No body will feel much damage. But this time rainfall was 94.4 cms in one single day. This is a record in the past 100 years. In the entire country this has happened only 4 to 5 times.
As usual like any other rainy day my daughter left for her college (Bhavan’s) at Andheri from Goregaon quarters at about 1 pm. It was raining incessantly. Around 3 pm when the corridor of the college was flooded with water the college authorities advised the students to go home. By the time, My daughter and 30 to 35 of her classmates were coming out of the gate of the college, the water level had increased above their waist level and consistently it was increasing. Some of them ventured to go towards andheri local station. At the same time, one lady of the neighbouring building residing in the second floor called these girls to go to her flat. By the time, these girls reached the second floor, the water had fully submerged the first floor. Majority of the low lying areas of Mumbai had the similar fate.
That day the main reason for the calamity apart from heavy reason was occurrence of hightide in the sea. As such, the backwater of sea had increased inflow of water into the city and alongwith heavy downpour the water submerged many of the low lying areas.

That lady who had called these girls to her flat had offered eatable and water. She had also allowed these people to stay there till the water level subsides and situation comes normal. She had even allowed these girls to make telephone call to their respective residences. Next day morning around 8 am the water level had subsided and these girls had called their home and reached their destinations safely. Can one expect this type of people in these days. First of all the flats in Mumbai would be very much congested because of the high cost of residence. Secondly, almost all the people of the city had faced the brunt of nature on that day. How anyone can think of others problem, when he himself is drowned in his own problem. Still I don’t know what relationship we had with them to take care of our children. Hats off to that great lady.

I will also tell you the fate of those children (my daughter’s friends) who had ventured into going to their residences from the college when the water level was increasing. These children when they tried to reach the nearby Andheri railway station, the water level had raised to their neck level. The water which flowing around them was dirty. Still they tried to go in the water. Near the railway station, they saw a bus full of children, young and old people. The bus was already half submerged in the water. These children also tried to board the bus. When they could not they tried to board the top of the bus. The bus could not bear the load and due to heavy load it started to tilting towards the ground and was about to fall down. Some nearby people had to bring ropes to make the bus stand and pull all those who were inside. Mind that the water level was raising and it was raining heavily. The entire western stretch of the railway track was fully submerged in the water. Those who had already ventured to reach home had to divert towards eastern side and go along the western express highway. The situation there again, was no better. Roads were full of water. All the vehicles were stranded on the roads. Along the roads the ditches, open man holes were not seen. While walking the road may had to become victim of these life suckers. Along the middle of the road, in between vehicles, these people have to move slowly wading the flooding water. Casualties were many and manifold. Majority who succumbed were small children and old people.
Now it is the turn to tell my story: On that dreadful day, around 3 pm I came to know that the local trains have stopped and running due to submerging of railway tracks. During rainy days this is usual at Mumbai and on these days employees would be allowed to leave early, informally. Sometimes, the news would be rumour. I left the Bank at 4 pm. There were no buses available to churchgate. As such, with friends I came by a cab to churchgate station. By the time I entered the station, there is not an inch of space in the station. How to enter the station, and where to stand. All the trains were stranded on as is where is basis. There was no hope of trains running at that juncture. I alongwith my colleague Shri BK Singh, waited for nearly two hours and sensed that there was no use in waiting. Roads were full of vehicles. At that time, another friend Capt Sirola and Shri Varma also joined with us. Capt Sirola suggested that we may try to go by a cab. For our luck none of the cabs were ready to come to goregaon. This I realised only the next day. Then we all four boarded a bus which was leaving for Andheri and standing near signal. The conductor of the bus was very prompt in giving tickets. We spent nearly two hours to realized that the bus has not even moved one kilometer. Then, Capt Sirola suggested that we can go to Central Office and building and stay overnight. Since he is a security officer, we also felt that his suggestion is apt.
By the time, we reached the Central Office Building, we were amazed. The entire Bank staff is there. Somebody at the enquiry counter informed us that the Bank has arranged for tea and snacks at HRDD. Also we were told that arrangement for dinner has also been made. We could not belief the gesture of this type. Soon we reached there. Mind that this the first time I am going to that Department. I could not believe that CGM of the department Shri Baizal Shaikh is mixing with all the people and enquiring whether they got tea and snacks and was also asking whether anything more required. This gesture made me mute. After sometime, I came down and we were informed the dinner arrangement has been made and all have been requested to go have. Since I won’t eat anything outside, I didn’t go. After some time, there was another surprise for me. At around 9 pm the CGM incharge of HRDD Shri Sandip Ghosh, was physically carrying loads of bread and jam for those who could not get proper dinner. What else one can expect from the Bank which is full of humanitarians. Really hats off to their unrelented efforts in keeping the zeal and enthusiasm of the staff. Irrespective of their grade bosses mixed with all the staff like a family. Later on, I was told that all the departments had made arrangements like this.
Around 10 pm somebody told me that a car is going towards goregaon. Anybody can go. I alongwith my friend went near the car to find that another unique security officer of our Bank i.e, a lady security officer Smt Priya Sharma was waiting alongwith her husband to ferry people to our quarters. I and my other friend accomipanied them. Shri Sharma is such a nice gentleman he entertained with light talk and gave entusiasim to us. He had put on the airconditoner in the car till the end. Till Siddhivinayak temple, we had no problem and went smoothly. From there onwards, it was horrible. Vehicles were moving bumper to bumper. No policeman were seen along the way. However, some of the social organizations were offering tea and biscuits on the way. Whether anybody can expect such a gesture. When the government machinery has failed in rendering its duty, non-governmental organizations did wonderful job. Nature’s fury had taught oneness among all people by putting in this type of situation. By the time we reached Bandra flyover all the roads were jammed with vehicles. Majority vehicles had gone out of fuel and owners had to just leave them on the road. There were instances of people dying due to suffocation inside the car while its door had got jammed.
Mr Sharma decided to go back to his office at Worli, Smt Sharma was eager to see her daughter kid. I and my friend also decided to go to quarters alongwith her. But how to go ahead. All the roads are closed and no mode of transport except going by walk. While Smt Sharma suggested to go by highway, I told her that it is too dangerous, because of water filled open manholes which could not identified. Finally we decided to trek all the way along the railway track. Along the track I saw series of trains stranded on the way and the tracks were filled with water. But the water was getting dried slowly. All the trains were full of commuters who were inside the coaches since previous day. Many were sleeping in the standing posture. Many mothers with small children in their hold were also seen. Those tiny toddlers were with smiling posing without the knowledge of what is happening around. While walking along the railway tracks the sharp stones were not painful. Rather I was enjoying the hardest day of my life. Is this the way for the nature to test the people?

By the time we reached Santacruz station, we heard an announcement that the local from there would be leaving for Borivli. Smt Sharma and my friend could somehow sneak into the train. However, I could not enter. So, I decided to proceed on foot. By the time I reached Vile Parle station, I could see that the train had stopped in between. At the station there was another earlier train. It took 2 hours to reach Andheri station. Since no telephone was working and all the mobile services were jammed, I could not know the fate of my daughter. At Andheri I thought of making a search inside and outside the station. I could not succeed in locating her. After about an hour, I proceeded towards Goregaon. I was getting too tired. But the main insipiration I was getting was from elderly people and young mothers with small kids in their fold, also walking on the railway track. Before Goregaon station, the bridge which is built was running with full of reddish water. I saw there were two lorries loaded with some goods which were brought by the running water. Also plenty of buffaloes and other dead animals were flowing in the water. Can any one boast of their supremacy against the nature.
By 11 am I reached, home. I realized after removing the shoes that the shoes were torn into pieces, also the feet had turned into full white. Was just thinking whether it was my own foot? I got rejuvenated after having a cup of coffee. I was also happy to see that my daughter had reached home safely before me. Our Bank management very generous in declaring holiday for two consecutive days. Later on I came to know that people started coming home only the next days evening that is on July 27.
Immediately I thought of writing an article on my experience. I wrote this article immediately. Since no telephone was working, and internet was working I could not send my article to any paper. On 28th morning the internet services were resumed. I sent this article to kannada e-paper . To my surprise, the article was published with in 10 minutes. There were flood of e-mails coming on the mail box enquiring about our well being. Now I have written the same article in English and placing before you. If any of you can realize the mental and physical agony faced by mumbaikar, I would be grateful.