Wednesday, July 05, 2006

And it is raining. As usual.

And it is just another monsoon day in Mumbai.

And King Circle is flooded. Just like in 1995, and 1998, and 2002, and 2004, and 2005 and 1974 and all those years before and in between. Only this time there are cameras, and vans, and microphones, and people wearing all sorts of protective rain gear peering earnestly into cameras, discussing the size of the pothole opposite Don Bosco High School and the level of murky water on Char-Rasta with the kind of fervour you normally associate with war correspondents.

And since before I can remember, we have been walking home in knee-deep water. And trains have been running slowly. And people have been crammed into uncomfortable bogies like sardines. And electricity has been coming and going. And schools and colleges have been declared shut. And buses have not moved for hours on end. And people have stayed at friend's places. And airports have been shut and people have been given bread and sambar to eat in transit lounges.

And Matunga has been flooded. And Lal Dongar has been flooded. And water has built up in Marol. And in Tardeo. And the Sion railway tracks have always been waterlogged. And it has always shut down train services between Kurla and Dadar. And people have walked home along the middle of the road for ages. And I can remember when we walked home from VT to home, during college. And it was an adventure and an escapist fantastical release from the daily humdrum of work, home, and reliving the same routine every day. And the airports delayed flights for longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

But the CM did not need to answer the media people. And viewers did not send in sensational pictures of ankle deep water and floating debris. And people living in the ground floor of Railway colonies did not have people poking cameras and microphones into their living rooms. And people smiling genially into cameras portraying them as martyrs and heroes and crusaders against the unyielding rains.

And discussions about high tides and disaster management and preparedness and the Mithi River above danger mark and even more discussions about the Mumbai spirit and the Police Commissioner gravely condemning all rumour-mongering and requesting cellular companies to spread generalised messages about "Heavy to Very Heavy rains expected in the next 48 hours". And the Met department forecasting perennial rains for the next 7 hundred and 22 hours.

And NDTV and Aaj-Tak and CNBC and Zee News and Star News putting out correspondents in Chembur and Kurla and Andheri and on the highway and the expressway. And grave faces and even more grave predictions, and newspeople telling their reporters to "tough it out" and "brave the elements" and they will "keep us updated" of the "situation". Ofcourse even 4 hours later, the trains are still crawling, and the buses are still moving, and people are still wading through water, and it is still raining in Mumbai.

And I cannot understand where these media people were all these years. When we were playing antakshari in the candle light at 8 in the evening. When we were wading through waist deep water at Parel. When those slum dwellers in Asalpha lamented the death of their families when their wall fell over. When office commuters sat and discussed cricket and politics and social issues while perched on the window sill of a VT local stranded between Sion and Matunga for the better part of a day. When people got up every morning and decided to go to work and were not dependent on souped-up reports of 100 mm of rainfall in Santacruz for their daily programs.

And I feel the need for a 24 Hrs Weather Channel who can agonise painfully and convulse in raptures over each and every deviation from the mean and median performance of the weather.

Then maybe these news channels can go back to reporting the news. And NOT the weather.




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Anonymous said...

I have the sneaking suspicion that Hemingway couldn't deliver sample t-shirts on time either.

Nice entry. Life is truly being sensationalized to, well, death.

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