Its the monsoon season in Kolkata, which means just one thing: waterlogged streets. Wherever you go, whichever turn you take, there are rivers of murky water with Nessie just lurking, out of sight. The other day, I had to go out to post a letter, after a full night of violent rains and had to wade through knee deep waters which had spit, dog (and even human) poo and God knows what other things that will only make me take a saw to my legs if I think about them too much. So I just took a deep breath, and plunged into it, hoping fervently that my foot does not get stuck at a pothole or a rock and I fall face first into the filthy water.
Waterlogged streets, bring back fond memories to so many people. My cousins from Kolkata recount their rainy days with that spark in their eyes, like Jack Sparrow would, about his adventure in search of the fountain of youth. Owing to their three foot stature, they would have totally submerged had they been allowed to walk, so they would enjoy the view, watch the discomfort of other people and call out to their fellow classmates from the shoulders of their fathers, a joy ride to school every day in the rainy months. Who wouldn’t love that? I would wish for that too (but that probably wouldn’t have been a good idea, the stars on Dad’s shoulder would have pricked and hurt a lot :P) The rickshaw rides that made you feel that you were atop the Titanic , the extra care and fussing from your mom and garma-garam pakodas. This was rainy season for them, a break from the usual routine. But however much I prayed for rainy day offs from school, my prayers went unanswered. 😦
We have come a long way from those beautiful poignant memories of childhood. Think of it, water logging is a serious menace and dangerous too. The dirty drain water that we have to wade through can make any healthy person sick in no time. There is a constant fear of open manholes, the city is littered with these that stay open or sometimes have a flimsy board placed over them, one wrong step can lead you to the spiraling staircases of hell. These manholes cause serious accidents any day, the monsoons only make it worse.
Another thing that I noticed was the lack of buses and auto-rickshaws plying on the road and the huge number of people waiting at the bus stops. A little water, and the buses stop, for no visible reason. Buses would probably be the best means of transport at this time, with the water level so high, since I saw so many cars and taxis being towed off the road because of water seepage into the engines. The few buses that were there, were so overcrowded that you couldn’t put a foot on them. The hassled and helpless people had no other option but to wait for hours for the next bus that could take them home to a warm blanket and a steaming cup of tea and out of the daunting ordeal. Even the taxi drivers were charging exorbitant rates, taking advantage of the helplessness of the people and the situation, that makes you ponder; where has the compassion for fellow humans gone? I kept wondering what the people at the airports and stations were doing.
A rainy day is supposed to be a day when you can snuggle under a blanket with a book and a hot cup of tea or spend time with your friends and family, have a heart to heart with the people you care about or just sit by the window and hear the pitter-patter of the rain drops. Anything, but wait outside in the pouring rain, stranded for hours, with the water level crossing your knee.