Saturday, July 30, 2005

Mumbai updates

We have all heard and seen the terrible situation of people in Mumbai over the last few days. It was the heaviest rainfall that has ever happened in India.

Most people were out of home for more than 2 days. They were stranded without food, water and proper stay facilities. Most offices had instructed their employees to stay back instead of venturing out on the 26th of July because of heavy rains. We never expected that the situation would worsen the next day. Those who stayed back at the office were safe, but those who decided to venture out were in a bad state over the next 2 days.

Railway stations were crowded, highways were blocked and there was 4-7 feet water everywhere. There was no electricity in the suburbs. Water supply was disturbed. Essential commodities like milk, bread, vegetables were in short supply.


People crossing Thane creek bridge

My father who started from Thane on the 26th was stranded on way. He did not find any transportation, so he walked down to Thane station. There were no trains, so he took an auto for Dombivli in the afternoon @ around 16.00 hrs. However, they could not get past Shilphata till next morning. The lighs went off, the roads were flooded and there was heavy rain. They could get neither food nor water. His shoes / umbrella were dragged into the fast current. He fell down and got hurt. His cell phone was drenched in water and there were absolutely no phones anywhere. We were totally cut off and there was no way of contacting him. We were absolutely worried. My sister stayed back at her office [a wise decision again] and I too, was not at home. My mother was alone and absolutely worried because none of us could be contacted. My father had to cross the river near Lodha Heaven [Nilje village] in a tractor and he had to walk almost 4 kms without shoes, in the waters. He managed to reach home only by 13.00 hours on the 27th of July. People on the way were helping out with tea, biscuits and water.


Bandra Fly-over

A few of us who were lucky enough, decided not to start off for home unless the situation improves. We had a nice time @ the office. They booked whatever hotels were available. CLSA lived up to one of its core value statement during this crisis.

Our employees come first

Employees were booked into the Taj, Oberoi, ITC and whatever other places were available on a priority basis. Even on the second day, a buffet lunch was arranged at the office itself. Some people stayed back in the office too. Overall, the crisis was well managed for employees and all of us were safe and sound.

I stayed with Mangesh and Raju @ the Taj Mahal Hotel in a suite facing the Gateway of India.


View from our hotel suite during night


View from our hotel suite in the morning

Pramod, Jayganesh and Vinayak were on the 4th floor in the old wing. We did some emergency essentials shopping at Colaba, freshened ourselves and were relaxed. Mangesh introduced us to a fantastic eating joint - Food Inn @ Colaba. The food was very delicious and I relished it. Next morning [28/07/2005], we had an early breakfast.



Breakfast table


Would have loved this for breakfast too!

We stuffed bags with a lot of fruits and water bottles and started off for home. Railway trains had started running between Mumbai CST to Thane. We got off at Thane and started hunting for a cab / auto to drop us to Dombivli and Jay had to go to Kalyan. However, no cab would want to go. We went to Check Naka. A cabbie demanded Pune fare to drop us to Kalyan. We decided to take an auto and fixed up @ Rs. 400 upto Kalyan via Bhiwandi. The onward journey was also comfortable. We dropped Jayganesh at Kalyan and then, 3 of us started off for Dombivli. We reached Dombivli at around 14.30 hrs, had lunch at The Legend and went home to rest !

Our office was closed on Thursday because the stock exchanges decided not to trade. On the previous day, the leased lines went down so we resumed business on a VSAT connection. Surprisingly, the telecom / communication infrastructure at the office was robust and we had our internet links / VSAT links and telephone lines functional all through.

Returning home after 3 days was like returning home from a long travel for us. Everything looked new with rain having washed away a lot of known signs on the way.

Overall, it was an extremely tough phase for people in Mumbai. Many people have lost lives, homes and precious belongings. People have been very helpful but the extent of damage was so much that it will take a long time to return back to normalcy. Initially, I had thought that Mumbai would be back to normal on the 27th but that was too optimistic. I had underestimated the situation then.
I have uploaded several snaps on my personal web at Techjaal.com

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