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30th June 2006
We may not be the rudest people around but we are certainly the most optimistic people around. How else would you explain not doing anything post 26 july rains last year and still hope that everything will be allright this year.

As the residents of Mumbai we have learnt that the monsoon is not really a very pleasant season in Mumbai unless you are sitting in your house sipping tea and having pakoras and just staring out of the window at the rain. There is nothing wrong in doing that except for the fact that most of us have to work for a living and we can't just sit home unless it is weekend.

I have also realised that the supply of essential things like milk and bread are not guaranteed during the heavy rains. To combat that we have kept 2 cartons of Milk for Manu and one pack of dairy whitener for us in reserve. I am also making sure that we don't wait till the last minute to buy other things like flour and rice and other edible things. This will ensure that if we have to spend a couple of days with shops closed, we can survive.

I have also learned that riding a bike can be dangerous because you can't spot the potholes or other holes dug by BMC or other government agencies when there is water all over the place and driving a car could mean getting stuck in traffic for hours. The result of the learning is to rely on rickshaws to go to work and come back when it is raining. I have also learned to stay away from really old buildings or even walls as they can collapse any time. Last monsoon a wall of BEST depot in Majas collapsed killing about a dozen squatters who had made shanties along with the wall.

As the people living in Bombay we have learned quite a few things. There are people who travel by trains who have learned that trains usually are halted at least once during the rains, the have also understood that it makes more sense to wear plastic/rubber shoes to office and change into something more presentable when you get there.

We have learned all this but what has the civic authorities learned. 26th July last year was an exception but even without that we face most of the problems I have written above. The roads are water logged, the trains stop working, it is unsafe to walk or drive on roads but still we aspire to convert Mumbai to Shanghai. All the access points to Andheri Kurla Road are dug up, JV Link Road is in a bad shape towards the Western Express Highway and instead of repairing them, they are busy digging more holes. The only thing even remotely connected to this problem the government is in banning plastic bags and even that ban is not enforced.

I don't see situations improving and I guess the only way to survive this monsoon for me will be to exhaust my quote of leaves and stay home during heavy rains. The trip to Delhi for Diwali this year has to be cancelled I guess.