Remember how you used to go to the sea face during the rains as a kid and get thrills when the water splashed out? That’s disgusting. I can’t believe I ever did that–it’s asking for a disease! I’m happy I’m smarter now, and I strongly advise against it. If you’re a rookie monsooner in Mumbai, feel free to take my experiences as lessons to survive the wet season.
Lesson 1: Umbrellas are a Lie
It has taken me 23 monsoons in Mumbai to learn that umbrellas are only of any use on the drizzle days and when the wind is at it’s bare minimum. If you’ve ever had to brave the monsoons in Mumbai, you’ve probably had the incredibly embarrassing experience of walking on the road and becoming totally helpless when your umbrella gets out of control and turns on you, as you struggle to gain control of your life while getting drenched.
As someone who has lived in South Mumbai all my life, one bad experience in the suburbs during the rains was all it took to un-romanticise everything that has ever been romanticised about the rains. One of the visarjan days of Ganesh Chaturthi was a particularly rainy one, and I anticipated a long, frustrating, wet day ahead. So I planned accordingly. I decided to reach work at 8 am and leave by 4 pm so that I’d skip all the rush in the train and on the way to the stations. I’d easily get an autorikshaw, and I wouldn’t have to walk with my umbrella way over my head (to avoid getting in the way of other people with umbrellas, of course!).
Getting to work was easy. It was disgusting and dirty everywhere, but I managed. At 3.59 pm, I was packed and ready to run out of office. When I got down, there was no auto in sight, so I walked a little ahead hoping to get one at the main road. Keep in mind that the rains were lashing down at this point, while I pretended the umbrella was helping.
Lesson 2: Don’t Hesitate to Hitch a Ride With a Stranger
When I couldn’t find an auto for 30 minutes, I decided to risk my iPhone’s life by taking it out in the pouring rain to call an Uber (the umbrella helped here). A ride from my office to the train station costs between Rs 45-50. When I tried to book an Uberpool, the fare was Rs 323. I figured the surge can’t be so bad, so there must be a problem with my app. I should just shut it and restart it. On reopening it, it was the same, so I tried Ola. No cabs available. I spent another 15 minutes walking in all directions to find an auto, but in vain. I finally gave in and decided to take the ridiculously priced cab as a one-off emergency situation. No cabs available *hitting myself*.
I had walked in all sort of puddles and dirt by now; I was certain I would die of some horrific disease. I finally managed to call an Uberpool. Getting it to reach me was a task, but I was motivated to have made some headway towards home. When I got in the Uber I realised the co-passenger had to go in the completely opposite direction, which would delay me by another hour at least. So I got off two minutes after getting in. Now I wasn’t even close enough to go back to office! After many more minutes of hopeless waiting, an auto guy took some pity and decided to drop me to the station. I was so angry with autorickshaws, that I wasn’t even as thankful to him as I should’ve been. When I replayed the struggle in my head the next day, I realised that I should’ve just stuck my thumb out and hitched a ride with a stranger. I know that now.
Lesson 3: Pack Some Snacks
No, seriously. Monsoon in Mumbai means endless traffic jams leading to hours and hours of waiting to get home, which could make you very hangry.
The journey from office to the station takes about 20 minutes, but on that particular day, it took an hour and five minutes. I wished I had some snacks to reenergise. I learned that being hangry (angry because you’re hungry!) is a real mental ordeal. Now I pack snacks wherever I go. It keeps me distracted from what one might call my first world struggles.
Lesson 4: It’s Acceptable to Make Your Office Drawer a Mini Closet
Most of you probably already do this one. I call it the monsoon kit. Keep a pair of slippers and a set of fresh clothes in your office drawer to change into after you arrive at work, fully drenched. It really is a lifesaver!
Lesson 5: Cover EVERYTHING in Plastic
Hideous as they look, you really should get those little plastic ziplocks they sell on the street to protect your cell phone, wallet, books, lunchbox etc from Mumbai rains. Because nothing else will.
The bottom line is that the rains are beautiful in a gloomy sort of way when you’re sitting by the window in your pyjamas and sipping tea. But that’s so unrealistic. Eventually, we all have to get out and step into the madness that is Mumbai rains, so be prepared. You know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather…
Image Credit: Gettyimages