Mumbai’s River of Water and Traffic

Everyone will have their stories about yesterday and the rains. I was at home because my wife wasn’t feeling well. In the afternoon, we needed to go see a doctor. And that started a harrowing hour caught in water which was waist-deep and entered the car. Somehow, our driver ploughed through. I should have taken some pictures but it didn’t strike me then. My only concern was how to make sure Bhavana and Abhishek get home fast enough as the water levels were rising on the streets due to the heavy rains (combined with high tide). We finally made it home without reaching the doctor.

The one memory which will stay on is when I stepped out at Tardeo/Haji Ali and as I looked at the road, the fury of the swirling waters on the road almost made me dizzy. Water had always been so peaceful in the world I inhabited…Now, suddenly, roads had become fast-flowing rivers and endless streams of cars were just stuck or wading through them. People were making their way through the water. And the rains kept coming. I had seen pictures on TV of this in other places — here I was right in the middle of it all.

Many of our staff spent the night in the office since the trains weren’t working. Ramesh had to take a flight to Bangalore and spent 4 hours in traffic before they made a U-turn and got back to the office.

Every year there are a couple days when life in Mumbai comes to a standstill because of the rains. So far, I never really experienced what it was like to be outside during these days. Yesterday, for a brief time, I did.

I couldn’t help think that it is at times like these we need “citizen’s media” – a mechanism whereby people can exhange info on what’s happening. Cellphones can make this happen. Even as the voice networks were clogged, data channels (SMS, GPRS) seemed to be working quite okay. More on this later.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.