Thursday, January 28, 2016


Last Saturday, while at breakfast, my daughter told me about a dream that had haunted her the previous night. It was about the makeshift place where we had camped during the November and December 2015 rains.That place had been a blessing for us actually, as water never came onto the roads around that place. But in the dream, she could see hip level water inside that house but with no water in the garden outside the house, which was at a much lower level than the house. She was trying to understand the logic behind the water levels, but then I told her, that dreams do defy logic. Beyond the logic, the terrible fact is that flood related dreams continue to haunt us often.

I wish to share my experience during the floods that ravaged Chennai in November and December 2015 as a series of posts, so that it will be easier for you to read through.

I had a tryst with the flood waters initially, when I had stepped out into it before Diwali in the first week of November, to attend my classmate's funeral. Until then, most of us in Chennai were of the impression that 2015 would be a worst year with very little rainfall. The 12th Main Road in Anna Nagar, Chennai, which is normally a green heaven with a beautiful green canopy, turned out to be a water hell. While my car was inching through the traffic, the water level was almost above the wheels. About twenty metres from where my car stood, I could see a tree slowly slant and fall as it's roots had got soaked in the water that had been there for a more than a day. It's top part fell slowly on one of the cars that stood ahead. I could see a few other trees that had already fallen down, in the adjacent streets. It was an unbelievable sheet of water that I was witnessing that day. My driver tried a few other streets too to come out of that place, but all were in the same flooded state. I could not proceed to the cemetery and I had to desperately get back home.

The first major encounter started while I was at my church at Koyambedu, Chennai, on November 15th Sunday evening doing the Christmas singing rehearsals. I was sitting facing the doors and I could see water filling up in the volleyball court. To me, it seemed to be abnormal and rare. There was something so eerie about it, that kept tapping on my mind, a foreboding of something big coming soon. The rains had something peculiar in them. It was not the rains that Chennai had seen where there would be a romantic drizzle and then a steady pour and then a downpour. These had a ferocious way of opening even if the bouts were small and when the downpour was long, they gave out real ominous signals.

That evening I had to drive to a tailor shop at Anna Nagar, to give measurements for our Christmas Choir attire and then drop a few singers back to their homes. I had checked with one person about the water level around that shop and he had told me that everything was fine. But once I entered into that road, which was a one way, I knew it was the next hell that I was into. I was not able to judge the depth of the troughs on the road as the water sheets were so misleading. 

I finished my work with the shop and ventured into the streets of Anna Nagar to drop my choir mates. There was no power in these streets and the water level was menacing. I was not sure up to what stage I should keep venturing inside as I felt I was getting into more deeper waters. I have this flaw in my decision making many times that when I see danger right in front, that my sincerity numbs my thinking. I felt that I should take my choir mates to their home even though the water was deep and so I kept moving and finally reached the place and dropped them. But after that, I had no clue how to get out of that place alone and I had to keep asking people while I drove. The water was so deep all around and finally I made my way back to the main road where the water level was a shade better. It was then that it struck me that my choir mates had never offered to get down at the point where the water level was less while at the entry of their street. They could have got down and walked instead of the car getting into the risk of getting stranded in the water. But they did not :). I rode further and with great difficulty picked up my wife from her house and drove back home in the rain. The downpour was too much for the wipers to handle. 

The best part of nature is that you never know that what you saw anytime was just a trailer of bigger things to come.

You may read the next in sequence at:

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