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Cyclone in Town - Mumbai

My monsoon memories of one windy day in Mumbai.

I am a weather-watching junkie.

So when there was a cyclone forecast in Mumbai one year I was visiting, I was intrigued as to what would happen.

I had already been standing at the bottom of Babulnath Temple earlier that week when a downpour occurred, and the water raced down the hill at knee level.

That day, a kind local policeman lent us his phone and were rescued from the area.

I was staying in a hotel on Marine Drive this particular day. The forecast was for wild weather.

The news channels across the country were predicting and counter-predicting the outcome for the city.

The wind picked up, and as I peered out the hotel window, I could see the trees thrashing about furiously.

Then the rain hit, thrown into the side of the building with force from the approaching cyclone.

I was on the side of the hotel that was not bearing the brunt of the storm.

The sea-facing side of the hotel started to leak around the window sills and through the upper level of the conference rooms.

Hotel staff scurried efficiently, responding to the water entering from the top of the building and now the windows.

It was alarming. I had never been in such a storm, and I didn't know what the building could withstand.

What was happening on ground level, I wondered?

Authorities terminated transport services for safety. We could not leave the building.

There was significant flooding across the city.

But Mumbai was accustomed to this. It is a resilient city, and that is why I admire it.

The people I meet are practical and stoic. They face challenges with impressive fortitude.

That evening the wind died down. The trees stopped whiplashing each other, and the rain eased.

The city remained flooded. The traffic stopped. There were calls across the media blaming local authorities' response.

I wasn't quite sure what the authorities were expected to do, given the volume of rain.

Now I am not a resident of Mumbai, and I do not live with annual disruption to life on the roads in Mumbai. I could understand the frustration of some.

But after such a significant weather event, I was surprised the next day when everything appeared to return to normal.

The press reported carnage. I took a bus from the south of Mumbai to the north. (I took the bus due to reports that the flooding was too severe for regular vehicles).

On that bus journey, there were no signs at all of the carnage.

I am not saying it did not happen in some areas, however, the city went back to normal by appearances.

A similar rain event had happened once in my country of origin. It had remained flooded for a week.

I write this just as an observation of a city of 20 million people short on space. I was personally impressed by the city's response.

And the next day, on the bus from south to north, everything looked the same.

And some other news made the headlines.


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