Bombay had 37.1 inches of rain on Tuesday, a national record. It’s led to lots of problems, including some deaths (as of this writing, 200 people in Bombay, 400+ people in the state of Maharashtra), as well as huge property damage.
Despite power outages, the Bombay bloggers have been whirring away. Dilip D’Souza, for instance, has been busy, with a column on Rediff and a series of posts on his blog. Amit Varma has a great piece called “Streets Like Rivers”, and a great number of links up here. Sonia Faleiro has an account of getting stuck at the airport, spending the night in the lobby of a hotel, and of the strange, almost inexplicable helpfulness of strangers in a catastrophe. Uma, of IndianWriting, has these pictures, and these links. Also see Gaurav Sabnis, here and here.
But the most interesting accounts of the flooding by far are not by bloggers (though I love the bloggers), but the first-person accounts that have been showing up on Rediff. Below the fold is an account that I found to be particularly moving, warts and all.
On that fateful Tuesday, my sister started for home in Dadar from her office in Andheri in the afternoon. In Pune, I got a call from her at around 4 PM saying that she was on the bus and it was stuck in traffic for long time, but nothing to worry. I just thought she was doing some timepass, as she got nothing else to do in the traffic jam. But then reports of heavy rain in Mumbai started pouring, and I came to know how dangerous situation was… Then I was continuously trying to call her but it was all in vain.. I got a call from my brother late night saying that she managed to get in a restaurent and was safe there. Finally on wed she called me that she reached at my Uncle’s place in Matunga at around 10 AM. And then she told me how fearful that whole time was.. When the Bus did not move for long time, she got off it and decided to walk till traffic jam was over or till all the way to Dadar with some other ppl on the bus. But before long she came to know it was impossible as the water on the road was neck dip… a women with her got into some pit and hold my sister for support.. It could have been the last moment for both of them.. But.. suddenly some ppl from a nearby restaurent saw them and pulled them out.. they made they stay there itself whole night and then let them go in the morning only.. My sister walked till Matunga as there was no other go..But finally at home!! I cannot express in words how i felt to hear from her.. I am really thankful to all those who helped my dearest sister.. And I think Mumbaikars are the one of the bravest and strongest in the world.. with all the odds in favor, with themselves knocked out with the rain, they did their best to save who all they could.. And there will be many to share the same feelings with me.. That day my cousines/uncles/friends in Mumbai too got similar nice experinces.. This I think makes Mumbai, Mumbai.. It’s the Spirit of Mumbai.. the MegaCity. It did not go down even too the mightest rainfall.. All I can say is Salam Bomaby!!! Amit (link)
(I hope that link stays good. Unfortunately, there are no permalinks to these individual voices on Rediff.)
Many of the other comments posted are politial ones, to the effect of “this is so embarrassing to India,” or “these damn politicians can’t do anything right,” or “see, India is still a hopeless third world country.” I disagree: 37.1 inches of rain in 24 hours is a certifiable catastrophe in any country. No drainage system could possibly handle it, no airports or trains would possibly stay open through it.
Since the western media generally only goes to cover South Asia when there is terrorism, war, or catastrophe, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s another way of framing the story: in a city of nearly 20 million people, many of them living on low ground in extremely ramshackle housing, there are only 200 deaths reported after an epochal flood (note: those numbers could rise, in which case this sentiment will become obsolete).
Moreover, it looks like things are very quickly returning to normal. Any loss of life is tragic — and I hope no one reading this was affected — but all in all, it could have been much, much worse.
Some sites have been created to organize aid for people afflicted by these floods. You can read about them here.
The sites are:
There is also a Wikipedia page worth checking out: here