Monsoon Diary

It has been 5 days since water has been rising up intermittently from the drain in the bathroom of our first floor office/residence.  Generally, it happens when the rains are hard and incessant.  Other times, when there is a large amount of constant water usage.  Sometimes, when you flush the toilet.  “Gross!”

At times, there is a small overage, a relatively quick rise and fall.  At others, there is a half inch of water covering most of the floor.  That water usually has dish washing residue – the yellow of dal and tumeric; the red/brown globs of grease from Chinese food; flecks of tea leaves and coriander.  “Disgusting!”

All the drains in the entire flat are connected to one outlet, including the toilet.  Four flats share the same municipal sewage drain.   That drain is now completely clogged with garbage and food residue.  Our next door neighbor called a guy, who is not exactly a plumber.  (At first, our landlord sent a plumber, thinking that our internal drains were clogged, but he would not touch the municipal drain.)  The skinny guy who came and checked out the drain in the pouring rain, declared that each affected house would have to pay INR 300 (US$ 7.50) if he cleared the sewer line, and INR 200 (US$ 5) for his efforts even if he was not successful.

Three out of the 4 flats were willing to pay.  The fourth was not – this was too expensive – she would call the BMC (Brihanmumbai (formerly Bombay) Municipal Corporation).  “Yeah, like they are going to show up right away to fix this problem!”  Aarghhh!  What to do?  The skinny guy hung around for a while, washed himself off, fully clothed and shoed, with water roaring out of a downspout just outside our front door, waiting for some kind of decision to be made.  His pregnant wife/girlfriend hung around with him, looking amused as the two other neighbors struggled with the recalcitrant one.  I couldn’t contribute much to the Hindi discussion.  Finally, after much spitting (he of paan, she of spit), the two of them went off, saying:  “call me.”

Until this problem, we had considered ourselves very lucky not to have been flooded during the heavy rains that left much of Bombay paralyzed a couple of weekends ago.  Our lane slopes slightly downwards, and the water rushes past our door but does not accumulate as it does in other areas of Bandra and the rest of the city.  Now, we get to experience what many people live with in our own little microcosm.

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