Climate

Being Monsoon proof

12:49 PM

You can ready your home, you can ready your wardrobe, upgrade your rain gear, but in the end it’s not worth much if you haven’t readied your mind as well.
The monsoon in Mumbai will put you to the test big time, as it often deals with heavy long lasting rains that can if you don;t have the right attitude leave your daily life totally crippled.
In Bangalore, the rain spells might be heavy but never last super long, a heavy spell will set you back a few hours and at the worse ground you home or in a mall for one or two hours more if you really insist on not getting wet at all.
In Mumbai there isn’t really any telling when the rain will really stop once it has started pouring down, it could be minutes, more likely hours and more often than not days (yes that long) on no end. July being the worst month with high chances of such events. In the past 3 weeks I don’t think we have seen more than a day or two with at least an hour of sunlight, and not a single day that was completely dry. And this week things promised to become even more challenging as a serie of high tides was reported to occur along with a atmospheric depression bringing in heavy rains. So much so that yesterday the government started issuing warnings to school to keep shut for the afternoon batch as there was no telling if the rain would stay mild and not create havoc with the nearly 5 meter high tide that was expected at around 1pm.

To be fair yesterday wasn’t as bad rain wise as it was on Tuesday where all hell broke loose. That day I pretty much did as all the other days, armed myself with my umbrella, got Ishi in her rain coat and waited for my friend to make it up the hill with the auto to hop in. It was by then raining normally, not light, but not heavy. The auto driver warned us that there was some big traffic jams on the main road already, so we were running a little late, but our proper planning still made us arrive before classes started. What happened however was that the instant we got out of the auto in front of the school the downpour started. Umbrella being useless, us soaked to the bone, kiddos still dry in their rain coats but with wet feet.
This kind of rain means: “No way we can get an auto” so we decided to wait there to see how it played out. After a sold half an hour I pointed out that we would be far better off heading to a coffee shop nearby the instant the rain thins a little and stay there until the end of classes instead of trying to make it back home and risk being stranded there unable to pick up the kiddos. My suggestion made total sense to one of my friend who knew what the monsoon can do in Mumbai, but seemed to panic another friend a little because she is really experiencing her first heavy Mumbai monsoon this year, comes from Chennai, had a 18 month old baby on her hip and had the plan to go home and feed him idli for lunch, which she told us about. 45 minutes later and still no sign of it ever stopping to rain she tried making it to the road to get an auto back the instant the rain thinned but gave up seeing that the traffic came to halt. We then suggested to her that she tags along with us making a run for a coffee place, but the idea scared her, she repeated that her son was hungry and would only eat idli as he likes nothing else. We then suggested trying to see the school canteen, she vetoed it because she was afraid it might not be hygienic, I can’t blame her there. I offered making it to a South Indian restaurant further down the line. She refused because it was too long to walk and her son was not wearing clothing appropriate for that weather. My other friend then told her that the only option for food at this point was packaged chips or biscuits from the canteen in the school itself, which at first she refused because “only idli would do” but by then her son was miserable hungry, cold and not too happy with the loud noise of the rain. Both my other friend and I went looking into our respective purses to see if we had snacks left in there, as we are always prepared with some candies and munchies even with 4 year old kids, luck had it that all I had was a few Mentos as Ishita ate the pack of crackers I had in there a day ago, and my friend had only hard candies as well, not the type of thing you can give to a small child screaming so hard. Our friend however was surprised we even were planning for that kind of things in our purses to begin with. With the purse snack plan failing we urged her to follow us to the canteen and see what options where available, she settled for a pack of potato chips, but still refused to follow us to a less crowded, cleaner and dryer coffee place, even refused to sit down because her son didn’t like being in her arms while she sat at a table.
This is the point at which both my friend and I got a bit fed up with her and left in the still heavy but manageable rain to get ourselves hot beverage, hot sandwiches and a dry place to sit and wait, doing what one should do in case of heavy rain in Mumbai : throw your schedule and routine out of the window finding a plan B-C or possibly D to deal with it. We both knew the instant the downpour started that we would not have a normal day, that in such event you will in all likehood end up soaked wet, and that the best move is to make it to a dry shelter until the rain thins at the default of subsiding completely. if you have hungry kids with you or are yourself hungry, you just know that at this point getting warm hygienic food is the priority and that to avoid getting seriously sick you go for the cleanest place your money can buy, who cares if it serves only paneer sandwiches instead of your community’s traditional fare.
When you truly know the Mumbai monsoon you know your best move is to be very flexible and as ready as you can. It means clothes that will leave you move while soaked, shoes that will stay on your feet and prevent you from slipping. It means having some snacks in your purse if you have kiddos with you, a fully charged mobile phone on your person if you plan stepping out of the home longer than an hour…and put that phone in a waterproof pouch or bag. That means not being afraid to have to walk, because that will happen, and knowing that you will get wet. You will have occurrence of suddenly finding yourself forced to go out for groceries in the rain simply because there is no telling when it will stop.
You know that at anytime a flood alert can be upon you throwing a monkey wrench in your day or next couple of days.
The Mumbai floods of 2005 brought the city to a stand still but it managed to recover in a couple of days, ode to the spirit of resilience of the Island city. that was maybe the most extreme situation in the recent past, but that doesn't mean there are no floods, waterlogging, traffic jam and chaos the rest of the time, it happens every year. The only exception to that rule probably being last year when the monsoon was very light and very Bangalore-like with far less havoc, which is probably the reason why our friend was not ready this year as she had no experience with the typical Mumbai monsoon having arrived to the city only last year.

As I am concluding this post, the sun is making a timid appearance between two clouds…we’ll take it, hoping that the rain leaves us alone for a few hours knowing a day or two would be too much to ask.

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