Rain is using the principle of "Preparation is half the battle won" today. The scarier version of the rains is so unlike the showers that make the trees, flowers and children smile. Too much rain is as much an unstoppable force of nature as an earthquake. Thunderstorms are like the sky's version of Joker. Alfred says about the Joker "Some men just like to watch the world burn" and Thunderstorms- means no harm, just likes to drench the world. But a city which has seen 26th July would'nt quite have the same opinion. Having concretised the city to the extreme (just 0.3 acres of open area per 1000 people in Mumbai. Even Delhi has 4.4 acres per 1000 people) we the people of Mumbai are not entirely blameless. So if the rains decide to jazz it up a little bit, thunder, lightning...you know, the works... we really have no option but to put our tail between our legs and scurry home right this moment, or atleast as fast as the delayed locals will take you.
And today its a whole lot of jazz. Sample:
At 3:30 I could read a book without the lights in my pretty shady room. Then Dad called.Dad: How is outside?
Me (*Is that an ominous opening line or what?*): Fine..cloudy and cool. Why?
Dad: Here the streetlights are on, lights are on in shops and offices and everyone's driving with their headlights on. It's like 8'0 clock here.
Me (*uh oh..*): Better leave early.
This conversation may be repeated about a million times by everyone who works in the city, lives in the suburbs, and calls home. Thunderstorm fires the first salvo. Fear created in the mind about an unknown, powerful entity coming soon.
Over the next 1 and 1/2 hours the exact same thing happened right outside my house. The skies darkened slowly, as if the Rain... God? yes definately a God summoned his cloud minions to march forward in an unbreakable line of dark. With the winds driving them on, slamming every open door and rattling the windows... drawing people's attention to it. Every now and then there is a low rumble of thunder, like a war horn. We watch uneasily, yet mesmerized... thinking 'This is probably what is known as a Terrible Beauty...'. A run through of bad rain incidents starts in our mind, like an old slide film. Stage two accomplished by the rains. The very sight of the clouds and accompanying orchestra has scared us. Even before the battle, we have started imagining visions of defeat.
Then as if on cue, the lights go out. It's just 5:58 pm and its pitch dark outside. Not 8'0 clock this looks like midnight on a new moon's night. The cool winds which we would have loved not 20 days ago feels like the hand of a psycopathic stalker on your neck. Rain chooses its props well... just as we are adjusting to the darkness it sends out one gigantic flash of lighting. Lightning which shows you a teaser of a drooping black tree against a bleached sky. Our hearts are on the way to our throats when a huge crack of thunder wallops it right into our mouth. That's it.Now the slideshow starts running faster in our minds... you can see your face or the face of your loved ones wading through the water, hailing ricks on a road full of people hailing ricks, discovering the umbrella is *aarghhhh*, trapped in a train and the train going nowhere... complete frenzy begins. If you are at home you call up mom, dad, friend now. If you are outside home, you recieve a call from home at a freaking wrong time, like when you are readying yourself to jump into a running train entering the platform, standing in a bus that breaks every 5 seconds, trying to remove your windcheater as other passengers abuse you...so much for 'family's concern' :(.. Stage three reached. We are scrambling over one another in a frenzy to reach home or wherever.. to avoid an event that has not even happened yet.
And it didn't happen afterall. For all the drama, all we recieved was 10 minutes of medium rainfall. The lights came back on, the wind has rested its whip, the orchestra is taking a water break. Sitting at home it feels like much ado about nothing. The ones who come home may have a different answer, maybe there was utter chaos where there is no roof over the head.
But tomorrow is another day. And Thunderstorm like Joker is a mad genius... maybe its just waiting for the us to let our guard down.