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Courtesy: Afternoon news

Mumbai, Jul 8: Maybe our Johny Joseph had something when he said out of frustration that it was not the obligatory duty of the BMC to set up weather stations and predict and forecast weather conditions in Mumbai.

That was because all rain-related issues were brought and unceremoniously dumped on his doorstep a few days ago. But it is true, the BMC is a civic body, and its duties might include the overall administration of the city but getting the weather right is certainly not one of them.

That comes under the Indian Meteorological Department which has one bureau in Colaba and another in Santacruz. And the person in charge of this department in Mumbai, the weatherman so to say, is a gentleman by the name of Dr C V V Bhadram. We do not know him at all. But the weather in Mumbai is an old friend, and we know it quite well, or at least we thought we did until this week.

The standard joke everywhere in the world is that you do not go by the weather reports. In fact, you prepare for just the opposite of what has been predicted. In Mumbai, we have this problem only during the monsoon, rest of the year Dr Bhadram is left in peace in the sylvan surroundings of his Colaba Weather Bureau.

No newspaper reporter asks him how hot the days are going to be in summer and how cold the nights will turn in winter. But the monsoon brings out the fiend in the sleeping telephone reporter. And a call every night for the next day’s forecast is made to the weather bureau. And it is faithfully reported in the next day’s press.

If Dr Bhadram has sensational news, like yesterday’s heavy rains and gusty winds, it makes the front pages during the monsoon. If not, the weather report gets buried somewhere inside. But what happens when the forecast is terribly off the mark? Like yesterday’s sun and shine on a day when a wet and bedraggled Mumbai was cowering under the threat of more heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds?

Nothing happens! The city, glad to see the sun struggling out from behind week-old rain clouds, comes out to dry the cold and damp in its chest and lungs and celebrate the good weather. And Mumbai, which was sinking only 24 hours earlier, gives of its best. Raincoats, gumboots and umbrellas are left at home, sunglasses are put on, and cars and bikes are brought out on dry roads where only the day before there was dirty, brackish water. The city itself looks like it has been freshly scrubbed and hung up to dry.

Like a water colour painting in several different shades of sky blue, earth brown and environment green. Add to this a dash of red. That is the colour of Mumbai’s BEST buses. Perhaps the most popular colour in the city. They have been people’s lifelines on days of floods and rains. When people see the familiar red colour majestically sailing through the deluge, they know that the city is safe, and that they will get home.

Wasn’t it Sharad Pawar who remarked on the evening of March 12, 1993, after the serial bomb blasts had all but ripped the heart and soul out of the city, that when he saw BEST buses on the roads he knew that Mumbai was getting back to life?

Strain in the rain:


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