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Earth, a water grave

Earth, a water grave

You might be reading this over breakfast with a wall-sized, flat-as-paper TV screen beaming at you, (preferably on mute, if you ask me) readily showing clip after clip of the flood-gutted Capital. (And there we are, in no time, with eyes closed tight, about to declare how we’re just an inch away from be- ing a Super-Power with our all-buoyant economy. Now is it?! The back-breaking cost of daily living having taken a well-tucked away back seat. The gyrating, going-through- the-roof inflation, a figment of the imagination of a handful of disgruntled economists who hadn’t been invited to the podium, of the self-im- portant Conclaves, that are happening many times over in a single year, with television diligently covering the Live event held at one of the glitzy ITC or Taj group of hotels!) The rains lashed away, drowning the roads and repeatedly red-alerts were issued for citizens to remain indoors. With cars, trying to keep their heads above water, what would you expect?! One did not own a James Bond car that could, at the airwave of the hand, morph into a motorboat or a chopper to whisk away to the office, dot on time, for the 9 o’clock meeting. It’s another matter that the office was flooded, and you did not have to squint your eyes to espy that your computer was wafting away, the desk drowned to death, with the arms of your swivel chair bobbing up and down, reconciled to its watery grave. These visuals left one aghast, alarmed, aggravated.

Was this re-eally the Capital of India, the pride of the nation?! Raj Ghat was floating. Bapu, where are you?! Praying that the Mahatma’s beloved spectacles had not gone seven leagues under, while in the same breath it comes to mind that some years back more than a clutchful of Gandhiji’s personal possessions had been auctioned off at Sotheby’s—could his clear-sighted glasses been hawked off, vended away as merchandise as well?! The Red Fort, where our Prime Ministers deliver their August 15th speech, drenching in muddy rain-pummeled water. Connaught Place showing the same swallow- ing kismet. Yes, Connaught Place, the magical circle that illumined many a childhood scenario, where even when age had caught up, one would return to, within an immeasurable nostalgic pining to restore some moments of early years’ cheer- fulness. And amidst the coming down in torrents tide, my house-mate informs me that every year, for over four dec- ades, a bus would find itself submerged in the waters under Minto Bridge, and mainstream papers would carry a picture of the soaring water levels threatening this overpass, to the point where one would believe that this structure would be tottering into the flood. Back to the sunk-like-dead-fish bus…the services of a submarine need to be lugged in to haul this sea-dwelling coach out of these burying waters. A sub- marine, with octopus-esque hands, that can swimmingly clasp the poor, down and out, rusty lorry, tugging it up to finally come up for air, and feel the hard surface of land. Unless, of course, this Underwater Craft would, like its brethren, that recently had gone to fetch the Titanic, nosedive to its soaking wet cemetery. Anyways, back to the July rains throwing our lives out of gear. Millennium City, Gurgaon, priding itself for its high-rises, multinational offices, parading as the New York of the East. (Imposter Syndrome, we have all heard about it, right?!) Well, with the monsoons in full throttle, the roads recast themselves as rivers, altering the course of everyday living. Commuters wading in their double-locked doors, windows rolled up tight for 3, 4, 5 hours and more, praying hard that they’d not sink in these gushing waters. And praying even harder, they’d be able to hold up without a bathroom, in case the bladder build-up was too much. Natural Calamity?! Oh, Really?! Seriously?! Have our stuffed coat civil engineers and their sprawling staff ever heard of storm-water drains?! The drains on a specific incline according to the gradient of the roads that let water by the gallons slide into. Alas, the state of these roads—tearing out from the seams, dispirited and potholed—would render such

drains ineffective, if they ex- isted in the first place.

AsIputmypendownto close the window in front of my writing table for stalling the impending dust storm to make its interruptive noisy entry, I see, as usually is the case, that my space is run- ning out and I still have a few good miles to go. So, to swiftly touch upon matters. Himachal—Dev Bhoomi as it is, with a caressing croon, called—went through havoc. And there we are blaming the merciless monsoons for roads being ripped apart, for houses tumbling down, a la Humpty Dumpty, for entire mountains slouching destructively downwards— the law of gravity in full play. Rendering people homeless, penniless, stranded tourists screaming their lungs out for help, their vehicles having been washed away, and if not, what purpose does an intact SUV or whatever, serve when there are no motorable roads. Speaking of which, even walk-worthy pathways had been flushed away, joining a valley that lay hundreds of metres down from the slithering mountain top. We’ve been shovelling into mountains, flattening them to build 4-lane high- ways, many-storied hotels, humungous buildings that pass as houses because they are going to be home to a countless number of tenants. Orchards replete with apples, plums, pears, peaches ripped from the roots to build resorts bearing names such as Apple Basket Inn. For tourists from Punjab, Delhi to experience the bounty of the Himalayas from close quarters. All in the name of promoting tourism, raking in revenue for this once-upon-a-time Wordsworthian County?! Prime Question: Who is going to roof those gone homeless, with, “not a penny to their name nor a shirt on their back’’?! And to ricochet along a long way from here: the dazzling pris- tine fresh airport in the An- damans. Not quite 8 days back, heavy monsoon winds uplifted the false ceiling from the terminal building. With rain pelting away, it wouldn’t be far-flung to imagine that in this state-of-the-art station, travellers soon might have to paddle into the water to reach the aircraft.

Then what about the extravagant “havans and poojans’’ we are holding to placate the Rain Gods for them to let go of their rain- rage?! Or the latest mantra replacing nursery rhymes, “Rain, rain go away. Come back another day!’’

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