It has just stopped raining.
I thought since the sun was shining so brightly in the morning, it might not rain, and I stepped out without taking the umbrella. And then it started – the thunder and the rains as heavy as any monsoon downpour. I came back drenched. The rain lasted for a few hours.
The off-season rains have been flooding the streets of Chennai for the last few days – any more and I am sure, not only the low-lying areas, but also the other parts of the city will start floating. And we may have to move about in gondolas. Well, I maybe exaggerating, but you get the drift, don’t you?
The rains are always good for a city that is perennially water-starved and depends on the annual North-East monsoon for its water supply. The monsoons are unpredictable, and some years go by without a whisper of a drop. Memories of private water lorries thundering down the roads, and queues of coloured plastic pots waiting for the Metrowater (water provided by the Corporation) lorry, are still a nightmarish thought, not all that long ago.
However the last two years have brought bountiful rains and the water table, which had reached alarmingly low levels, has risen considerably in the city. Rainwater-harvesting (to recharge the ground with run-off rainwater and store it for use) by responsible citizens has contributed in no small way to this, encouraged (if not threatened exactly) by the local corporation. In fact, civic officials used to come to check if rainwater harvesting facilities had been adopted in the grounds of private houses. Incongruously, the corporation did not go in for rain harvesting on its own buildings.
Most families used to buy water in those barren years, and every family had a budget allocated just for water. Now, our wells are full, and so are the sumps into which the corporation water falls, the temple tanks have enough water for theppam(the float festival) and the hand pumps spout water unprotestingly any hour of the day. But one failed monsoon, and it will be back to square one.
This is one city that will not easily say, “Rain, rain, go away.”