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  • On this day, seven years ago, I lost my house and most of my possessions. That was the day of the flood - the like of which most of us had never seen in Mumbai. A couple of days later news trickled in, of the devastation and deaths caused by the deluge. Many people were swept off by the strong currents and drowned when they fell into open drains that they couldn't see. Some bodies were found in cars that couldnt be unlocked. A young girl I know was saved because her boyfriend held on to her and refused to let her go even when her body became horizontal due to the force of the current. Another friend was pulled to safety by an old man who 'suddenly appeared like an angel from nowhere' she said.

    The following piece is an extract from my diary, written a couple of days after the incident:

    We watched, at first in fascination, then trepidation, as the water steadily crept into the building compound, then slowly seeped into our house. Frantically we tried to remove everything from the ground level of the first room into the next room. A feeling of helplessness gave way to horror as we watched the clear water grow murky because of the gutter water now seeping into the rooms at the back from the kitchen and toilet.

    My younger son and I emptied the lower shelves of the cupboard, which contained clothes, books etc and dumped them on the bed. Surely the water would not rise so high! But we were wrong. The flood had started around 3 pm and by 7 pm we were standing in knee-deep water. Our one year old Hyundai Accent in the compound was now covered with water up to the headlights. The plants we had purchased from the Green Grower nursery in Bandra were still in the car. The fish we purchased for the aquarium in the office were still in the plastic bag in the house. We put the bag in a bucket of water but as the water rose, the bag moved out and joined the medley flotsam of newspapers, buckets, mugs, slippers, mats, bottle caps, worms and cockroaches.

    By 9 pm the water level had reached the mattresses on the bed and the sofa-cum-bed. All the clothes and other things we kept on the bed were slowly getting wet. The neighbours called us upstairs to share a meal but we hesitated – still waiting for the water to come down so that we could make our way to Colaba, or at least Mahim, where we could spend the night, but it was not to be. Finally at about 10 pm we went up to the first floor and had dinner prepared by our neighbours.

    Our neighbours gave us mats to sleep on but we were restless. At about 11.30 pm the water had reached the electric meters in the meter room on the ground floor and suddenly the lights went out. With the help of torches we kept looking out at the water level but looking didn’t help at all. The water kept rising higher and higher. Now we could only see the tops of our cars in the compound. The scooters and bikes were already buried in the pool of water.

    Calls kept coming in on the one mobile with us that was still in use (my BPL phone was out of service). We learnt that one sister-in-law was stuck in her office at Malad. My brother-in-law went to pick his niece who was stranded in the school bus. He finally picked her up at 10.30 pm. My other sister-in-law was stranded near the Siddhi Vinayak Temple at Prabhadevi. A friend who worked in a hotel had to spend the night there. The few people who managed to return home at night into our building had to wade through water that was neck deep. Our compound and adjoining roads were now a swimming pool.

    It was only later we realized that we were lucky to have survived.
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