Monday, 24 March 2008


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.”


pentatwo said...

Can you hear me, that when it rains and shines,
It's just a state of mind?

Gowri Mohanakrishnan said...

Congratulations on getting rain, and so sorry you got drenched!
No gondolas for Madras, no, not after that tsunami!

Anonymous said...

Nice to know Chennai is getting rains in the off-season. Should help in alleviating some of the water problems in the summer, if any.

We should all thank Amma for her implementing the rain water harvesting scheme in her previous "nallaatchi". Amma naamam vaazhga!

Praveen Krishnan said...

I just love the smell of mud and water! That combination is something you have to feel from within!! :-)

Good to know Madras is getting some rains!!! Oh yeah obviously, it had to happen!! there is a test match waiting to happen between India and South Africa, and whenever there is a cricket match in Madras, there are rains!!! Off season rains during on season cricket matches :-)


Pentatwo - I had to go to Google to find out which song that was!

No more tsunamis, we hope, Gardenia.

That was a positive action that Amma brought about during her 'reign', Vijay, and we should acknowledge it. Glad you pointed that out.

Praveen, yes a tried and tested recipe for rain in Madras - fix test matches!

Anonymous said...

I remember those days of running after the water lorry with a kodam all too well. It seems strange to imagine Madras with an abundance of water - although all those awful days of water shortages were in all likelihood only because of terrible water management policies, not necessarily an actual shortage of water.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

Wonderful that it rained! Bangalore recieved some too, especially yesterday with thunder. Couln't sleep till twelve! I've just finished an exhaustive chapter in the bio text book on Rain Water Harvesting. That's why the blog attracted me.


Yes, Kamini, but whatevr the reason, I fervently hope those days are gone forever.

Welcome, Lakshmi, to my blog - I hope you are attracted to my other posts, too.