My experience during the Mumbai floods dated 29th August 2017.
The rains are here again and in the last few weeks, we’ve already faced major flooding in some areas.
Mumbai rains are a rude wake up for Mumbaikars, yet every year we’re somehow surprised by them. From 2005 to 2017, you’d think there’d be an improvement but in reality, there isn’t much, which is why I would like to share my experience with you during the Mumbai foods dated 29th August 2017.
My experience in the recent floods was my first ever. What I witnessed during my journey was unexpected but was an eye-opener. In some kind of way made me feel adventurous.
My day started off as a regular Tuesday morning, where there were moderate showers. I stay in Mahim and was getting ready for work which is located in Ghatkopar East. My journey to work wasn’t affected by the rains. I reached the office, so did my colleagues. We all got busy with our work when suddenly it started pouring like cats and dogs. At first, it didn’t really bother us as it had happened before but then we all started receiving news alerts about the heavy rains paralyzing the city of Mumbai.
We were told to leave early from work as there would be a potential problem for us to get transport to go back home. My dad called informing me that mom left from work at 12:30 pm from Lower Parel due to the heavy rains and that she had to walk from Lower Parel station to Mahim station as the trains weren’t functional. By 1 pm my sister too left from work which is located in Sakinaka and she told me to meet her at Andheri station. I told her that I wouldn’t be able to leave early as I needed to complete my work. She told me to leave as soon as possible.
I lost track of time and received another call from my sister, which is when I packed up and left from work at 3:30 pm, got into a metro and reached Andheri station by 4:15 pm. I met my sister on the platform. We checked all indicators and learned that no trains were going towards Churchgate. Transport systems were unavailable through parts of the city. The only trains available were the ones going towards Borivali and Virar. From Andheri East and West, we tried booking a cab through various cab services but due to a rise in demand for their services, there weren’t any cabs available plus roadways were shut.
We then decided to walk from S.V road to Mahim but we were told that S.V road had hip length water so we decided to head to Western Express Highway by the metro so that being on the highway we would be able to get some mode of transport to get back home. At that point in time, using an umbrella was of absolutely no use due to the stormy weather and we were already drenched as oncoming vehicles kept splashing water on us.
At Western Express Highway metro, my sister and I had 2 choices, either to go back to Ghatkopar and stay the night in my office or just hustle our way back home. We were told that Ghatkopar too gets inundated every year and that power was cut-off from various parts of the city to prevent electrocution. We didn’t want to give up without trying cause at that point of time we thought about the thousands of people out there who didn’t have any other option but to walk home and reunite with their family.
Keeping that thought in mind, we proceeded towards the highway. There were huge cars passing by with just a driver or 2 passengers comfortably sitting inside but none of them willing enough to stop and offer us a drop. They just looked at us and then looked the other way. There was a man helping people get a drop by halting cars who were ready to help. He managed to halt a moving car for us as well as 2 other girls. The kind gentleman driving the car accommodated the 4 of us without hesitation and was kind enough to drop us till Santa Cruz.
The traffic on the highway was ridiculously packed. For an hour, we were stuck in the same place from where we got into the car. We were ready to walk it off rather than sitting in the car and not making any progress at all. By then it was already 9:00 pm and we were still trapped in Andheri East. Gradually, the cars began to move and we reached Santa Cruz. We began walking from there onwards through thigh-length waters. There were so many others walking due to the traffic jam. There was no telling of where the road and the footpath was. The ground beneath us was invisible. We were afraid of stepping on secret pot holes hence we started walking on the highway through the traffic which was comparatively faster and the safest option available at our disposal. We were accompanied by few other people.
The cold and stormy air grew thick with anticipation as we marched towards our destination. On our way, there were hundreds of volunteers who offered us biscuits and water so that we could regain some energy and quench our thirst. When we reached one of the highways, we saw a couple of police cars parked at the foot of the highway. We tried to pass by them but were stopped by one of the policemen. He politely asked us where we were headed and when we told him Mahim, he replied saying that it’s really far. He requested us to wait at the side so that he could pull up some kind of transport for us. A kind lady on a scooter, in her teens, offered to drop us to Mahim.
She was a true angel in disguise. We thanked her for helping us. On asking her where she was headed, she replied, “I’m going to pick up my mom from Marine Lines and going back to Vasai”. We were caught off guard by her reply. This teen kept blowing our minds but it didn’t end there.
We came across a lot of traffic, so what did she do? She rode on the other side of the highway, which again took us by surprise. She was so courageous and determined to blow pass the traffic with steady arms. We crossed again, to get onto the right side of the road but had to get off the scooter as there was thigh length water and the scooter wasn’t pushing through. She walked with her scooter while we dragged our feet for about ten minutes in the water. We hopped back on once the water was clear.
From there it was a smooth and safe ride back home. We reached Mahim in no time and thanked her once again for the great act of kindness she showed towards us. On asking her what we could do for her, this gem of a person replied by saying, “I don’t need anything, but what you can do is help someone in need. Today you were in need of help, tomorrow it’ll be someone else, so don’t ignore it, in fact, help the person out because we never know when we’ll need help again”. Saying this, she took off.
We reached home by 11:30 pm. Next morning was a bright and shiny day, with clear skies. The news was spread with effects from the previous night’s floods. Many people were still trying to get home. During this stormy night, it was nice to see many schools, hospitals, offices, and societies opened out to the public for shelter.
If this was a story just about me and if it were just a one-time freak incident, I wouldn’t be writing about it. But unfortunately, this is something that happens to almost every Mumbaikar every year. Even though lakhs are saved, there are still thousands whose lives are lost. These rains happen every year, and we face floods all the time, yet we are left with the same unanswered questions, “Why do we face these problems every year? What can be done to rectify such problems? Why isn’t the BMC improving the sewage systems? Why aren’t the potholes taken care off? Why aren’t the man-holes covered?”
The onus of keeping Mumbai clean lies with everyone, so the biggest and most important question is, “How can we work together to keep Mumbai safe this monsoon?”