26 July 2005 – A usual day at junior college when I was day dreaming through another lecture. In the background I could hear heavy rains lashing down. The skies were remarkably dark for even a monsoon day in Mumbai. I checked my clock there were just another 15 minutes to the lecture. After the lecture, I and my friend Sahil left for Matunga station to take a local train home. Now my college is about 15 miles from where I stay and we usually travelled by the local trains to and fro. As expected, the trains were delayed because of the monsoons.
More than an hour and there were still no trains. Finally there was announcement that the trains have been cancelled indefinitely till the water clears out. We panicked and tried getting a cab to no avail. Buses were stuck due to water logging on the road. The situation worsened as cell phone network went down. We could not connect to anyone for help neither could we assure them for our safety. It was utter chaos. There were thousands of people on road walking their way through the water. We had the option of walking back the entire way of home.
But it was extremely unsafe due to open manhole covers which would be invisible over the accumulated water. We were scared and clueless on what we should do during such a disaster. College was the safest place that we knew of nearby. College had no electricity and there was water to the knee level. It was extremely dark and the winds with thunderstorms gave it a spooky eerie feeling. There were others like us who had taken shelter in the college. Some were crying and some others were consoling them.
It was heart touching to see humanity in such drastic times. Some arranged for food from what was left in the canteen. Some got candles from the college store room. Ordinary people turned into unexpected Samaritans by helping complete strangers endangering their lives in process. The next day was not as sunny and bright I as I had liked it to be. The rain had reduced. The water level had receded. I and Sahil decided to start on the way home. It was a memorable journey in itself. The water had not receded enough for trains and buses to start.
We had to walk a few miles, climb behind a lorry for another few and use a rubber dinghy to ferry for remaining some. Finally we reached our respective homes. I cried as I hugged my mother. The experience changed my life in so many ways. I learned to respect “Mother nature” and devastation caused from her wrath. It strengthened my love for family and friends and it gave meaning to the feeling “we cannot do this alone”. Many people lost lives, loved ones and belongings. I started appreciating what little God has given me. I felt lucky to have survived such tough times.