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Old 28th July 2005, 20:45   #16
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Originally Posted by RX135
I dont know which timeline are you talking about, but I was able to contact my brother on his Orange Cellphone at around 10 pm. But yes, it was down till then. He was in Lower Parel that time.
We're talking about 26th July afternoon/early-evening to 27th July evening.
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Old 28th July 2005, 20:52   #17
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Cars are still lying on the Western Express Highway lined up at the left - Padminis, Esteems, Santros, Hondas, even Mercs, Tata Safaris and Scorpios. To top it all off, I saw people from the slums using a new Honda City to dry their clothes and carpets. Pity I couldn't get a picture.
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Old 28th July 2005, 21:40   #18
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It's the worst I have seen yet. No pictures, no news story, no gossip can even remotely cover what went down in Mumbai on 26 July.

What turned out to be a an extremely stoopid decision to head to college, our return journey was to have more surprises in store for me, than I could begin to fathom.

While returning back home in a relatively calm, slightly wet, first class compartment of a Borivli fast local, gazing outside the door were looming dark clouds. Constant lightning and thundering, even though it seemed straight out of the War of the Worlds, I dismissed it as just another rainy day. I probably even mumbled to myself that I am glad that it was raining, we could use the water. Cell phones were buzzing around, people going on about their business while my friend and I shared the latest copy of BSM, and debated if the Hummer H3 actually even deserved to be on the cover.

Train pulled into Mahim station, it's not supposed to stop there. 5 mins, 10 mins...then we realised that train services are probably on the brink, so we decided to get off and cab it out to my friend's place in Andheri. Off at the station, about 13 missed calls displayed on my cell phone from unknown numbers, i realised that the cellular network had collapsed too, Orange being the first to go. Heavy rains already causing water levels to rise in an instant, as my friend and I stopped to enjoy some cigarettes and chai, before we headed to look out for a cab. Can't blame us, the weather seemed right for that sort of luxury, obviously the gravity of the situation hadn't sunk into us yet. Walking upto Mahim church, traffic jams were evident, so were large puddles, Ambulances and Fire engines were buzzing, seemed like the usual. A lot of people took shelter under whatever bit they could get over their heads, while small school children seemed elated by the fact that school left them early, and made maximum use of the puddles to their joy. We realised that we probably wouldn't find a cab, as we saw knee high water levels leading upto Bandra and decided to trek it out. Insane winds and heavy rains made it difficult to even walk in a straight line, we decided to walk to Andheri, stopping every now and then for cigs and some chai. Shops shut down, people wading through water, stranded rickshaws and cabs. Water level constantly rising as closer we get to Santacruz. Still lots of people around, still daylight, there was still an air of fun around us in the people who shared our ordeal. We saw numerous NHCs, OHCs, Innovas, Qualii (?), E-Klasses, C-Klasses, last gen S-Klasses, stranded with their drivers on mobile phones, obvioulsy being instructed not to leave the car alone. Oh come on , get a life, I said to myself, these instructions seemed ridiculous to me. One lady, wandered off the centre of the road, slipped, shrieks filled the air, 5 guys went after her, that's when the gravity hit me. We were going to be in for something we never had been before.

Daylights started to trip too, as we neared around 6.30 pm, and we reached Scruz Police station, near Aeroplane Garden. We had to make a choice whether to take Juhu or S.V.Road, and we chose Juhu, probably a mistake. All along, old people, old women, pregnant women, people with kids on their shoulders, as water levels continued to rise, took support of young people. There was a level of fear in everybody's eyes, a hope for a miracle, a determination that they had to get home no matter what, no matter when, they had to see their kids. An air of gloom filled the atmosphere as lights went down. Legs felt like they weighed a ton, the buoyant force of water wasn't helping anymore. Water levels receded completely near Team Motor Works, and everybody rejoiced. We stopped near Nummer Eins to take survey of damage. Out came wet conked cell phones, and soaked assignments and books, vain attempt to dry whatever we could. We even found a cigarette shop, got ourselves some much needed nicotine and some munchies. Later did we find out, every minute we lost, would feel like an hour later into the ordeal. Throughout this entire route, any sort of Police help was absent. Not for help, not for directions, totally absent. Throughout the way people fantasised about ways of getting back at the government, they were just frustrated. It was dark and eerie, near Juhu, of course, the designer labels were still open, and the rich still found time to shop till they dropped. They also blatantly refused allowing anybody to use their perfectly working phones. We stuck our thumbs out in distress hoping we could hitch a ride with somebody to anywhere, as public transport was boldly missing from the scene. We found some cops in a Bolero, and we asked them if the road ahead was walkable. Their reply was, " Koi problem nahin aage, jaa sakte ho, bindaas." As they broke into a smurf. Legs seemed like a million pieces right now, I even contemplated booking a room somehwere and staying the night, of course the Mariott was up in all it's glory. When we reached Centaur hotel junction, all hell broke loose. Chest level waters, completely dark, and extremely few people on the road. This was probably the worst stretch we would have to encounter yet. My friend and I wasted valuable energy in arguing whether to go ahead. He wanted to, I didn't want to. First signs of desperation. As we tried to concentrate on every step we took, hoping we wouldn't step into open manholes, taking support of enormous number of stranded cars. People around broke into tears, all they wanted was help, all they got in return was more rejection. The affluent in the areas were too busy telling the watchmen, " Gate band karo, koi andar nahin aana chaiye." Maybe they were unaware of the situation people were in, people who had been walking for hours at a stretch, people who sincerely needed help. There were times when I just wanted to give up, just stand somewhere, on top of a truck or a bus, anywhere, as I hopelessly egged myself on. I livened up a bit when more people joined the trek, they tried to liven up the atmosphere by trying to make merry, it was a pathetic attempt to hide their serious desperation, signs that they were fighting a losing battle, but still determined.
We hoped that there wouldn't be any snakes in the murky waters or rats, was afraid that I would step on a dead body, or that I would see one floating around. Water levels continuously fluctuated, people kept tripping, all the water around got me seriously disoriented. The water got colder, for a few hours I was sure I couldn't feel my legs, wonder how I moved them. All this while I prayed that the rain would stop, but it showed no mercy. The stench was making people nauseous, as people stopped more often than not. If i were to stand and think about what went mixed with the water, I wouldn't have made it home. Instead my friend and I came to the conclusion that the Gibbs Aquada isn't such a bad idea after all.

We were 5 mins from his place, and the locals wouldn't let us venture any further. Waters had risen to first floor high, and had BEST buses submerged. So close yet so far. We decided to take shelter in one of the stranded BEST buses, and we weren't alone. We were dripping wet, and were greeted by eyes of people who had been there for hours, watched the levels rise and fall continuously, people who just waited for the rain to stop. But the biggest saviours came in the form of locals. A mosque nearby, got it's people to distribute water and tea, and made special food for those who would probably be there all night. People were hesitant at first, but the thought of survival eased people to food that they needed badly. We caught a few winks in the bus, woke up to see that rains had ceased and water levels were dropping. We decided to make a break for his place, water was ice cold, we walked and 5 mins seemed like an hour. Near the Veera Desai road, there was serious activity, volunteers with portable lights and boats, and ropes circling the area, gave us the feeling that something serious had gone down there. As we got to the steps of his building, we saw lots of people taking refuge in the passages, waiting in despair. As we went into his home, there were strangers sleeping all around, empty cups of tea and food packets, drained cell phones, meant that my friend's father had been up all night helping the people around. Something we took over too. His was the only flat in the building, that had opened it's doors to the people. As we warmed to a cup of tea and some candles, we heard horror stories of greater magnitude. We realised that we had gotten off easy. There were still people in the dark cold waters, still somewhere that the death toll was rising. We couldn't sleep till next morning when waters receded completely.

It's been a helluva long post, but I had to put this down. If somebody should feel the need you could take it down, you can. It's been a couple of days of really mixed feelings, but I consider myself really lucky to have gotten off, really easily. There are so many things in times like these that you wouldn't think of otherwise, gives me a lot to do over the next couple of days. I figured out a couple of things really easily, that the Authorities are a bunch of wankers, at no point did I see them anywhere in action. The presence of poor people no longer annoys me, I sincerely look at them with a lot more respect. Even those, who I would usually treat as anti-social elements, didn't cause trouble of any sort. It was probably an experience which I could have probably avoided, but it was an experience of a lifetime.
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Old 28th July 2005, 22:01   #19
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No picture or newsbyte could've given us such a close-up view of the experience as your write has. Bravo to your spirit and congratulations for being able to translate your experience into words in a way that made me feel that I was THERE.
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Old 28th July 2005, 22:05   #20
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Excellent write-up Ported... you've mentioned all i wanted to from my own experiences from what i saw and heard. And more.

While i spent the dreadful rainy day in the comfort of my home, the people who kept popping in- some acquaintances, some unknown to provide help to, we heard tons of stories. Children dying in Marol, women getting washed away. Chest-high water, electrocution cases, dead bodies floating around. In my area alone, some 50+ people are feared dead.. this includes Sakinaka. My friend at Indian Express who was covering the story that night recounted more horror tales.

For any Mumbaikar, this is a day hard to forget, more so for people residing or stuck in the suburbs. What Ported has mentioned might be hard to digest for some, but i guess life has funny ways of waking us up. Condolences to all those who lost a dear one on that terrible Tuesday.

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Old 28th July 2005, 22:11   #21
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just outisde MKRAFT's workshop ,i saw a m800 float into a brand new lancer an dmake a big dent on the lancer.it then wnet got stuck under a truck.

luckily my car was at navnit ,and so did not get it hom eon monday.as there was a drop car provided by navnit--a alto.

the roads in thane were flooded with water upto the alto;s headlights.
so to prevent water from getting into the air intake i had already remove dthe air intake an dwe were driving without the air filter. so no problem s for us.

still it took me about 6 hours to do the usual 15 minutes from than eto mulund.

luckily the place where i stay was not affected by the floods.
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Old 28th July 2005, 22:28   #22
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Ported_head, that was one hell of a good write up.
I read such situations in some disaster fiction novels.
(Ill Wind by Kevin J Anderson)
Never realised that the situation was so desparate,
looking at the reports on TV, from our cosy homes here in bangalore.
After reading your post I will stop cribbing about bangalore's drainage problems. Guess being at 3000 ft above sea level helps.
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Old 28th July 2005, 22:34   #23
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great post poterd_head. it's a must that people know of the realities on the ground. amazing also that just beyond mahim towards the suburbs was disaster - while towards south mumbai - people were unaware of any great tragedy taking place.

my story sems to be a horror story like yours as well. while you walked in 1 direction - i was exactly headed the other way - albiet a little earlier. me and 2 of my boys were at 11th road juhu. at 2 it started to rain - by 4, the car was way under water upto the top of the wheels - and inside the top of the seat. somehow, i pushed the car with some local help into the client's building and left for the day. all the time, we thought, it was bad only on this particular road - because some of the bylanes of jvpd do have a tendency to flood fast.

as we waded in waist high water to the main road - thats when reality dawned on me that the situation was desperate. there was no road - everyone was in waist high water and cars were desperately thrashing around in their last throes of life. we walked for 4 hours like this till we reached bandra - surprisingly, my mom's house on linking road was relatively not too bad - and she was kinda wondering what the great deal was.

we tried to get to kurla - after dinner - because that's where my works is...but gave up after seing the great logjam of desperate cars on all sides of the bandra bridge going to the western express highway.

nothing really dawned on anyone of us till the next morning. since linking road had cleared up - we decided to take a trip to kurla to salvage what we could from the workshop - and we walked and walked... i walked for the next 8-9 hours...

and what i saw along the way - was horrifc, scary, sad and filthy. kurla was still under 4 feet of water even the next morning - the level had touched 8ft at our workshop. locals had tied ropes above the buses and the stranded cars - for passers by to hold onto. we somehow got to lbs marg - and realised that whatever was in the workshop was doomed - so we decided to trudge back. both my boys staying at mahim - so they left me at this point. cars were overturned and stranded, smashed and just floating around in the water. it was obvious that people had got onto the car roofs to higher ground - because all the roofs were caved in

i decided to get back home to kandivali. and what route did i decide to take? - the kalina route! by now, everyone knows what has happened to kalina...i was among the people who saw it - waded through it first hand. under the s'cruz east bridge - water was neck high at around 11 am - and you could see sludge and dead rodents, birds and cockroaches littered all along. the water was filthy and even if i had to go back to bandra - i would have to go through it -

i waited on the road for more that 3 hours - the water seemed to recede to around chest high - and me and a few fellow walkers - started wading through this water - for 1 km under the bridge - we braved the feeling of dead rats - and other misc object grazing our legs as we walked along - i was shuddering all along - all i could do was lend a support hand to the people around me when they lost balance -

buffaloes were floating around dead in the water - i just hoped that i didn't see any dead humans - it was so scary, i got numb...and just walked and walked. the walk under the s'cruz bridge lasted around 2 hours - slow and painful.

the rest of the kourney from s'cruz (e) to home, was really a walk in the park compared to my bandra-kurla- kalina adventure.

i now realise that water touched 15 ft in kalina - in the night before- and there were casualties in the air india colony - 7 people and 4 kids of 3 families died.

the horror of the visual sight was unbeatable - when there was no news, no information, no phone lines working - all we could do was walk - and experience this first hand...

and me too - i admire the people on the streets - yes the very same guys whom i usd to think were the unsavoury elements from the slums...they were there - helping and guiding and supporting. they were the guys who put up the rope ways at kurla - they formed human chains to guide people along the roads out of manholes and danger spots - i saw them physically lifting women and children and carrying them to safety. they pushed cars out of the way to help services and people to get by.

it takes a lot of strength and courage to do this for strangers and for people who probably don't look at them with too much respect...my hats of to these tireless youth. they gave us water along the way - they were preparing rice and basic meals for people to eat and serving them on leaves...

and while emergency services were nowhere to be seen...no police, scant firebrigades and a helpless legion of army men not knowing what to do - the failure of communications and information systems...our helping hand were the youth of the slums - amazing, amazing...

lets hope we all learn from this enormous disaster - i hope the govt is able to analyse and better help us next time...this may just be a precursor of the worst is yet to come!

god bless all those who lent a helping hand - i hope that they are given their fair share of commendment from everyone...
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Old 28th July 2005, 23:13   #24
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On 26th July, 2005 I was on my way back from Linking Road, Bandra (West) to 7 Bungalows, Andheri (West). We left at about 1430-1500 hrs continously walking in waist-filled waters. At some stretches the water wasn't there, but 90% of the way it was filled. It took us 7.5 hours to reach home. We were on Sanatcruz-Bandra Link Road and the whole link road was flooded. Cars were all over the place. People walked in the center of the road, because it would be far too risky to walk on the footpath's or the side of the road. The water was maximum at Santacruz Police Station signal. We took a left towards Juhu. The water-level gradually decreased towards the next signal after the Santacruz Police Station signal. Here we seen a Police Squad with lathis and riot helmets. They were ready for anything bad, but most importantly were guiding traffic and were advicing cars not to go ahead since it was flooded and of no use. When we reached Hotel Tulip Star (Centaur Hotel), it was flooded again. Later we realized that it was flooded right from Centaur till what was originally Juhu Circle. This was another long walk in the water and by this time our quads, hams and lower back were in pain. Most people in Juhu were looking at the lane from their balcony's. There was a drunk man on the road and another guy tried helping him, but the man wasn't co-operating. He could've easily drowned. A lot of young guys were here telling people from where to walk and warning them about any pits. They also carried children who were in buses, etc. Some people were busy removing cars from the middle of the road. But it was difficult because some of the cars were in gears or their handbrakes pulled. By the time we had reached Juhu Cricle, it was getting dark. We knew we had to go as fast as possible, because there would be no lights later. We were now on Juhu-Versova Link Road.

The power was cut off, there were people guiding us about manholes or any other pits on the way. On this long stretch of road, it was completely dark, there were lots of cars on the road, but most of them were abandoned, but their lights came ON automatically because of the water. And this may sound odd, but at that moment, most were shocked. Right at the end of the stretch, there were BRIGHT "lightnings" which were then followed by amazing thunders. The flash of light was very very horrific. Another horrific scene was that the cars that were submerged, had their lights ON. My camera was with me, but it was raining continously. Couldn't take pictures of the scene. When I reached my building, the building was flooded till waist height. Later after midnight, the water was almost chest-deep and whatever cars were in the building were filled with water.

I seen a Mercedes SLK sportscar and a Toyota Celica and many others in the water. Most of Choksey's cars weren't where it was supposed to be. I guess he must've shifted them to be on the safe side, which was a very good thing to do. There were the Land Cruisers and Prado's. But they didn't move. Not because there was water in their exhausts and engines but just because they didn't have any place to move.

We were glad we reached home safely. We were glad that many others did too. We were glad that there were soo many people who helped. We were glad that there wasn't any eve-teasing, comment-passing, no-good crowd there. We were glad that God was with all of us. Thank you for everything.
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Old 28th July 2005, 23:16   #25
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Ported_head, it's good to know you are safe. Hats off to you, for pulling yourself through that ordeal, and coming out on top. Admiration and respect to your friend's father, who opened his home and heart to those who needed it the most.

I hate to be a quibbler, but I don't understand what this Mumbaikar spirit is, that everyone's talking about. From what I see, there were those who helped total strangers, and made food and opened their doors, but there were those who stripped cars, and tried to make a quick buck by selling food at much higher prices. The rich went about their lives like nothing changes, without a thought to those struck by nature's fury.
What we should be thankful for is that there are still people like ported's friend's dad, and the "unsavoury" slum-dwellers, who are willing to risk everything from disapproving neighbours' glances, to their daily earnings, to help total strangers in need. We need that spirit, and it's called the human spirit.

My deepest sympathies go out to all of those who lost someone. My admiration for those who stood by strangers. For the opportunists, someone is watching.
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Old 29th July 2005, 00:07   #26
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Old 29th July 2005, 00:32   #27
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Another day of the week. Got up in the morning as usual. I had been having some cold and cough over the past couple of days so wasnt feeling too good. Just thought of taking a break so decided to skip work for the day. My brother had already left for college at Bandra early in the morning.

The day was going fine and I was just chilling around the house. Did an errand for my mom and got a few things and had taken the car along. It had started raining but it seemed like just another rainy day so really didnt bother. Had my lunch and dozed off for my afternoon snooze. Suddenly my intercom rang and it was a very panicked security guy and a woman telling that there was water in the premises. W have had water come in before so I didnt think it was serious . But the lady starting telling us about children being stranded in buses etc.. My dad rushed down and I followed him .On reaching the ground what I saw before me was a sight of horror.

I had never before seen anything like this in my life before. My whole building lobby ie all three wings were flodded with waist deep water. Lifts had waist deep water in them and water had also reached the parking area on the ground floor. I rushed to the second level parking area from where I could get a view of the entire compound and the area surrounding my building. Going up to the parking level gave me the whole view to the chaos going on around. Both my building gates were wide open with water gushing in like a violent river bring along with it all the filth, dirt dead creature and yes people too hanging on to dear life. We helped as many people as we could and gave them refuge in our premises. Our security cabins were washed away as well. There was a family crying for help in a Qualis which was almost submerged in the floods . Our security somehow manged to bring the Qualis into our compound away from the fury of the water. All this while the other thought on my mind was of my brother who had left college at 3 PM but we couldnt contact him since the cell networks were jammed. I got in touch with him finally and was relived to know that despite walking through chest deep water they managed to reach a friends hotel for shelter.

Coming back to the other scenes around me, frantic parents worried about their little childen stranded in school buses. The housekeeping guys and cleaners of our bilding some how managed to get in our building kids with a ladder from the neighbouring buildings compound since that building had access to the broken down bus on the other road. Apart from that we could see people fighting the waves to get to safety. People clinging to ropes, sitting on roofs of submerged cars I saw it all. A friend almost got washed away and lost his life but we somehow managed to save him . That was another really scary moment for us.

Reports started coming in from all over about the flood affected areas and I got updates on my office area. Had I gone to work that day I would have faced the worst. My office area was flooded bad and everything was submerged under water.

The rain cooled down in the evening and the water in my building wet down a bit. We all thought that the worst was over. But the rains came came back with even more fury at night and it was more worse than the afternoon. Water levels crossed all levels and by the time the rains stopped again my whole place was under water again and this time even more. Since my cars are parked on the ground floor both were half under water.

The next day we all went down to check on everything. I rushed to my cars and moved them to the upper level parking to clean them out. Water had reached seat levels in my car. Apart from the cars, the situation everywhere else was grim too. Our society office was ruined with dead rats et all entering the office. We spent the whole day tryin to get things into other. I along with my friends just went for a survey of the aftermath around the area in the evening and the sights were horrible. Dead buffalos, cars thrown about, everything was haywire. There were even a few dead bodies of people found around my area. After that we hit the highway. It was a similar scene there with cars abandoned all over. I called my brother to check where he was . He said he was returning in an autorickshaw so we asked him to get down half way and picked him up. Got him home safely. It was an end to an ordeal, something similar to what ported head had experienced.

Tjis has to be one of the worst days Mumbai has every faced in its history. When things go wrong they really go wrong. So much destruction in a matter of hours and loss of life and damage to property. I really hope we never see such a day again. A thought to all those who lost their near and dear ones in this calamity and hope those who yet havent reached home yet do so safely. This is just an episode to remind us abou the ways of nature and how important and precious our lives are how fortunate we have been. You never know how bad it is till you face it !!

I have taken a few pictures of the after math which I will post shortly.

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Old 29th July 2005, 00:47   #28
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I was still hoping that my tution sir who's always late, to come early on Tuesday but seeing it pouring and being studied the properties of water, i was aware what water can do ... so i decided ... hell with tutions im on my way home. Trains being already out of service and seeing traffic jam which looked like it will never get cleared. So walking was the only option. Started my journey from town to Mahim.
Tardeo was already havin water just below knees I decided to turn back find another way .... so going from small twisting up-hill lanes of Grant Rd. i reached Peddar Rd. From there the route was simple. Cars were seen everywhere. I carry a big umbrella, easily 3 people can fit in .. so i was finding it difficult to walk where other people were walking. Coming towards Mahalaxmi I was surprise to hear a guy on bike said : Raasts tut gaya hai" I was like what? went ahead to check it out ... whole slab was out ... one 1 lane was on rest the patch was broken. Never smelled so many burnt clutches in my life. Taxis left aside on the road ... when i asked some of the drivers they said "Kya kare... clutch gaya" Then had to walk through some knee height water at Lotus Court, Worli. While walking got a guy who was heading towards Parle so I had company till Mahim ... Had some coffee in near by Udipi. Started again, reached Cadell Rd. again had to force my way through water this time much above knees. Some stupid Innova owners thought their can make through such level of water. I stopped them and advised not to or else consequences will be bad. Some how reached home, took 2 hrs 45 mins.
Electricity was back by 9.30 pm.
Surprise came from my dad, intially when I had a talk with him and asked me about routes and all, so he told im staying in the office. Then within 15 mins he said im leaving for home, i was asking him to stay back but he said he will manage. Just with in an hour and 15 mins he was home!! around 10 pmish. As GTO said roads were empty by that time ... im talking till Mahim. He comes and says ... Corolla is good car, it runs and automatic is the way to go in Mumbai. I was shocked.
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Old 29th July 2005, 10:04   #29
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the rains in mumbai broke all records...it rained heavier than what was recorded in cherrapunji..overall it was a humbling experience...just reminds us that all our technology can do nothing in front of nature's wrath..but i am happy that things are normal now.

Originally Posted by v1p3r

I hate to be a quibbler, but I don't understand what this Mumbaikar spirit is, that everyone's talking about.
the mumbaikar spirit is that the same pople will be back to work even before the water drains out....that's the spirit of the People of Mumbai and that's what keeps it going...people went to work the next day after the bomb blasts,they went back to work after the riots and still contributed about 40% to India's economy...no other place in India has that kind of energy and life.
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Old 29th July 2005, 10:12   #30
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Excellent write-up Ported, you put all of us right in the middle of the rains.

Originally Posted by v1p3r
My deepest sympathies go out to all of those who lost someone. My admiration for those who stood by strangers. For the opportunists, someone is watching.

Let me share your words, Viper...
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