Mumbai Rains from the eyes of a Non-Mumbaikar

Ever wondered what rains in Mumbai would feel like as an outsider? You would relate if you are as new to the city as I am!


I started off in Mumbai roughly over a year ago and my relationship with this city has so far been nothing different from that of Tom & Jerry’s, always running and chasing each other but never quite being able to get to the other. 

Truly, I gave it a year and thought maybe I will get it, with all possible permutation and combination in place. But this city is more complex than a simple math problem. A year is too less for Tom to figure out how to catch Jerry, especially if it starts raining.

But amidst all the complexity, the city has a few problems and in those problems, I see why Mumbaikars call themselves tough. I don’t count myself amongst them because somehow, I haven’t come to terms with that 'spirit', yet. But to come back to the most complex element, what really makes me perplexed here is the Monsoon season, the famous Mumbai Rains.

But what else did I expect? A city in the coastal region and the most populated in India, which in itself is the second most populated around the globe. With so many people and the magnanimous area it covers, even the authorities would question their existence for managing the city that never sleeps. 

Moving here roughly around the time Monsoons were about to start was probably a bad beginning. Within a month, I was struggling with people scaring me about rains in the city more than the initial showers actually did. Two months down the line, I realised it wasn’t exaggeration. By then I was walking through flooded streets with filth all around, with some drain water saying ‘Hello’ to my happy feet every day only to leave them questioning my decision to stay across the office in an area like Lower Parel, walking to work. I could have saved some money staying elsewhere, managing a Kaali Peeli dropping me right at the gate of my office, considering the fact that local trains weren’t do-able for me after my first 15-day experience. But I was glad about that preference as rains and locals don’t tend to have a very good relationship here and taking a cab everyday would drain my wallet out. 

Soon, I started loving the fact that I stayed across the office, all thanks to the hero in my story, my rain boots. Finicky as I am about cleanliness, coming from an area where rains are a blessing more than a problem, the idea of walking in drain water was scary enough.  And no matter how much people mocked my rain gear, I walked back home like a boss in time when the city came to a halt on August 29, 2017. As soon as IMD issued a warning while it had been consistently raining cats and dogs, I walked back home when the waterlogging was still manageable. But amidst the sophistication, the rains showed me a different side to the city that day.

Where I was comfortable back at home asking my friends to come and stay over at my place if need be, I saw people getting out of their homes and comfort zones on heavily flooded streets walking in waist-deep water, only to help the others. It was also the time of Ganpati Visarjan and despite high-tide warnings and open manholes, people were still out on the streets singing ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ in huge numbers. Such is the power of belief and everybody here seems to be living in another zone of dedication, be it to work, religion, or simply humanity.

Besides the level of commercialism which pushed me a little away, it was this side to the city that lured me a little towards it. Even if it’s doomsday, the city will never stop. But besides the whole idealism, I still do see the problems. A year later, I am back shaking hands with monsoon again, cribbing about the BMC, like others, despite knowing their difficulty levels but not justifying them. I am back to the same cribbing mode, slightly lesser, as Dadar is way better an area to manage in, than Lower Parel, struggling my way through monsoons, again.

As a non-Mumbaikar and from comparatively a dry area, it wouldn’t be an overstatement when I say, "I have never seen so much water in my life."

And life seems more vulnerable here, with people dying because of falling in manholes and drains, falling trees, getting pulled in the water during high tides, slipping from trains, getting electrocuted and many such bizarre ways. And then, even though you blame the authorities day and night, you know for a fact that they’re only partially at fault because of the magnitude of the problem. Then who’s to be blamed?

But before we start the blame game, here’s what I heard and what I saw. Yes, people died in unthinkable ways but I was introduced to the horror of what really #MumbaiRains meant after the monsoons were over last year.

I had heard of what happened on July 26 back in 2005, exactly 13 years ago, but hadn’t heard of people's first hand experiences of that doomed day. To be honest, at times I thought it’s an over exaggeration, evaluating my limited response to "How bad can rains really get?" My imagination of ‘the worst case scenario’ with rains was far from reality.

Some told me of witnessing corpses floating on the water while people were stuck watching the unfortunate site from the top of a bus, stranded till help came in boats to rescue them. Another was of someone walking out of a restaurant to find tables and chairs floating in the water. 

Some spoke of no electricity, no food and no water. So, even being at peace at home would have been quite a task to manage. And no matter who we blame for the poor infrastructure, we can’t ignore the unnecessary things the Government tends to focus on. If the finances would have been managed better, so many lives could be saved, both then and now. 

Something as natural as rains taught me the possible magnitude of consequences my tiniest of actions can have. Rains mean more of a responsibility here which isn’t being taken care of irrespective of the challenges involved in the process. Don’t we have answers enough as to who we're to blame for it?

But to look at the story through a different spectrum, it shows how vulnerable human lives are and how important it is to be compassionate about the people around us. Mumbai, truly, has an unmatchable spirit, where no matter what happens, life goes on. Even the most disastrous incidents haven't been able to break the city down. 

And whether I love it or hate it here, I am going on, like the city does, polishing every experience into an awesome story. There is a dark side to everything but we need to choose what we focus on! Is it the rains or the human spirit amidst the monsoon menace? 

Note: This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. Mumbai Live neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.

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