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Saturday, July 30, 2005

OF BROWN EARTH AND POURING RAIN

There is an opportunity in every problem—thus spake the wise owls. I concur, with the caveat that one must avoid problems to the extent possible, and on the whole follow the hallowed precepts of the Alcoholics Anonymous. One cannot castigate anyone for losing it in the heat, or in this case, moisture of the moment, if you will. Calamities also accord you a crack at discovering a lil’ more of yourself.

Terrible tragedy to begin with; while Mumbai’s enervated and teetering infrastructure collapsed predictably causing considerable physical ardour to most, the mindless canards and the Bombay High platform disaster meant deaths. Many colleagues and relatives of mine have had property losses to report but I have always held that Life in itself has its compensations.

No Cable meant an over-dependence on FM Radio, provided there was electricity to begin with , which was not always the case. I thought some stations did a swell job in bolstering the flagging morales of overwrought citizens, relaying priceless information to anxious families and reporting on the state of roads throughout the city. Not bad at all, for a medium that has been known for being facetious and flippant.

The rest of the media—news channels, newspapers were all over the place, figuratively—must be the worst performance collectively. I think their callousness and insensitivity left much to be desired, and I hope that these dolts are brought to book.
The telephone systems—landline and mobile reeled and died out, and I can recall only two service providers who kept up any semblance of coping under duress. Attaboy ! but the rest should have hung themselves by now. Abysmal !

I am not sure I can blame the authorities very much, there was no sign of wilful indifference or inefficiency. Yes, every feel-good tale is replete with real life Don Quixotes who fed strangers with comestibles, brought succour, warmth and energy, gave lifts , and even provided direction to ignorant passers-by to great personal discomfort to themselves. Yet I can safely aver that this patting ourselves on the back, as is the wont of the Mumbaikar, is a tad overblown and needlessly dismissive of the authorities.

My own saga was devoid of water-logging at any stage. As I had about half a dozen colleagues spend the night at my place, my budding host skills were called upon rather unexpectedly. It is all the more disturbing when another is recounting a tale of woe and you can only respond with low-decibel grunts, squeaks and barks of assent.

This episode helped me reflect on some striking truths about myself—I can make tea for seven in a vessel that was intended only for about four without spilling, I cannot sleep with the radio on ( Ed—That’s because you crane your ear to try and identify the song played, then try and sing along too !) , and finally I can look for hours outside my window at cascading rain and still not come up with anything profound.

Lagi aaj saawan ki phir woh jhadi hai
Wahi aag seene mein phir jal padi hai....









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