Kolkata- Cyclone Aila!!!

May 26, 2009 , 16 Comments

It started at 90 kmph and expected to go about 200 kmph. It took everyone by storm, bringing down many records. Well I ain’t talking about the amazing win of season 1’s underdog “Deccan chargers” in the IPL season two. Nor is it ‘apna Sachin Tendulkar’ expressing his legendary reaction over the results. I am actually talking about the hurricane that is threatening [or begin to] Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal with dire consequences.

A kind of movement began on 3rd floor, admin block, at around 12:00pm. An hour back when boss exclaimed hallelujah seeing the rain, I didn’t take it that seriously. I dismissed off the thought believing that it’s the wonderful day to work indoors and may be sales team should be called off from field. It’s been raining since yesterday and seemed like another day of relief from scorching Kolkata summers. The rain continued to grow and I started enjoying the lovely sight of oodles of water splashing against the big glass panes. It was as if one is working at the waterside café a la ‘on the waterfront’.

My colleagues exclaimed that it’s a typical weather to sit at home and eat hot pakdoas [fried snacks] with tea. True. But for me it is more of a wonderful day to work and may be pakodas could be eaten while writing reports. Thrilled, I started working twice enthusiastically on new analysis. The rain appeared pleasant.

I didn’t realize that the pleasant rainy day is backed with a mean fact. A cyclone possibility was alerted on Sunday. I seem to have missed the news and realized it only when the hush-hush grew stronger with stories of how a tree fell on a vehicle, killing the person inside.

The movement began to grow with the rains and people started calling their family, asking them to stay indoors. I frantically logged on to Google news to have a better understanding than going completely on hearsay.

The cyclone was expected to reach the city in afternoon and to grow wilder by evening. However it begun weakened in the late afternoon. By this time Administration started taking reactive measures. Half day leaves declared for all educational institutions, Telecom companies incl mine offered individuals to call off the day.

Disaster Management
I used the word reactive, for except the small excerpt at the nth page of leading dailies, no precautionary or alert signals were sent to the public. Indian Meteorological Department [IMD.gov.in] however has advised 24 hours total suspension of fishing operations. The lack of preparedness was evident throughout. The state government was officially alerted at 8pm on Sunday, 24th May but the quintessential ‘chalta hai- sarkari’ officials couldn’t met before 12:00pm on Monday 25th May. [http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090526/jsp/frontpage/story_11021195.jsp] the more I write, bitterness will be higher.

AftermathThe cyclone almost came as close as 15km from the city but luckily didn’t hit. Had it actually entered the city, the impact would have worsened. The destruction could have been compared to the Great Calcutta Cyclone of 1864. 24 Paraganas [North & South], Howrah & Hooghly, EM Bypass, East Midnapur were reported of having maximum effect.

Around 1875 trees were uprooted. 300 deer washed away in sunderbans. 35 reported deaths. 24000 people homeless in Sundarbans
Anyways, the city is declared safe [supposedly]. The cyclone has reportedly moved to North Bengal though at a much lower speed.

My experience with truce
I woke up to a bright sunny morning on Tuesday May 26, 2009 sans electricity. Power cuts but off course, the first thing to happen even on any medium size rainfalls. The electricity was playing truant since yesterday and was restored at my house only after 7:00pm in the evening. Though I battled the high winds [felt down almost, God bless the angelic security guard who emerged from nowhere to see me struggling to stand amidst the high wind. Instead of being the blind-mute spectators like my colleagues, he came forth to my rescue, took my hand and escorted me till the hired Mahindra Scorpio]. Yeah I left office around 3:15 pm.

I sneaked my way through the tree studded roads of Salt Lake City [such a disheartening sight that was for it take years for tree to grow but only few minutes to be uprooted, slaughtered]. On reaching home I found that my kind landlord had locked the front door from inside and have happily gone deaf n dumb. After wasting 30 minutes at the door, making multiple failed calls to his mobile, constant shouting uncle-uncle, knocking the door, couldn’t bring the landlord almighty to my rescue. The girls next door got pity on me and invited me to stay put with them till the time uncle gets up from sleeps [read back to life] and open the door. I was “happy to be helped” and heartily accepted the invitation. At around 5-5:30 pm uncle came back to life and opened the door. Not leaving any chance to indulge in verbal displeasure he started the blame game again including my last night delay at coming home. I just can’t understand that what is wrong with these landlords especially “Kolkata- Salt Lake” ones.

Five more days! I counted and moved inside. I quickly dumped my laptop bag, squeezed face wash in my face, changed into pajamas and rushed to kitchen. The first thing that I did was to heat up my lunch and gorge on it. Windows were flung opened, bed linen got rid from morning clutter and I sat with Times of India in hope to spend the anxious hours. In between I kept on furiously looking at my mobile, in hope of my relatives checking on me. Alas, they disappointed me as always. Got few SMS, calls from some non-Kolkata friends and finally from home. Parents were as cool as cucumber called to check if I reached home, Also if I have enough “Ready to eat” food stuff stocked at home. As advised by him, I called my cook, requested her to come early in anticipation of upcoming storm. She happily obliged, however got herself drenched in the rains. God bless. Once again the theory which confirms that outsiders are more in than the so called insiders [relatives etc] proved affirmative. After cooking rice, dal, aubergines, she left with money and list of additional “ready to eat” stock consisting of soup, pastas, maggi, fruits, eggs etc.

The sky was getting darker and lights from windows got reduced. I took out my ancient Vanilla scented candles stock to use and lit all the 3 of them up. It looked quite romantic, so I have to put the two of it off to reduce that effect. Recessionary times you see!!!

Bored with the darkness and damned-ness, I opened my laptop and started writing this article. Tired with typing at dark, I started looking for movie options. Call it a great coincidence or irony, the only movie I found was “rain man” starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.

No sooner the movie began, voila electricity was restored. Once the cable was back, I was hooked till 1:00am in the night. And yes, it wasn’t raining even then and likelihood of cyclone was slowly reducing. I switched off the lights, tucked myself into sheet and dozed off. Zzzz…

Hope I have not put you to sleep my friend. Or what Ms Shobha de calls- blogdost. Just in case if you are still awake [literally & figuratively]; please help me to restore the ecological balance of mine, yours and ours city/ cities. How? In two simple ways-
1. By planting more and more trees [2 per person at least]; standing up against deforestation.
2. By helping through any other way to maintain the ecological balance in tact, reducing global warming you see.

I am hoping that you will oblige. Thanks in anticipation.

The autor is half Human, half machine. Go Figure or just revel in what I write


  1. Kekta Kauling26 May

    Reminds me of a cyclone in chennai 3-4 yrs back. It always starts with that "pakoda talks", moves to hieghtened tapri activity...and then panick sets in...until you reach home...after which, unfortanetly, you wake up to a sunny morning!

    And posion your land lord before you leave. I hate this race!

  2. Well...since I too put up at Salt Lake..can very well relate to ur experience..u here on a short term trip?

  3. Nice detailed experience. You need a good memory to capture all that :).
    Me and Bro too are very disappointed with our parents when it comes to call in case of emergencies. Always we have to call and tell them " News dekhi ?Yahn bomb foote hain. Mein thik hun". They say "Hum to serial dekh rahe the".

  4. Couple of things;
    1. We need to make arrangements for the copyright of your writings.

    2. National News channels sucks...CNN IBN, TIMES NOW, ZEE NEWS, AJJTAK...in-terms of numbers especially the ecological numbers, I don't know where these guys got it from.

    3. My contribution to environment, 3 days back I read somewhere that the Fossil Fuel will not last more than 40 years with current rate....so I have decided I will no more ride bike to office, either travel by public transport or car pool. I have been car pooling from last 3 days.

  5. it's been devastation...so many people killed, many more homeless:(
    it was nightmarish!!!

  6. @ Kekta Kalling aka Shantanu Lath aka chamiya

    I miss my tapri days...and do not worry about the landlord, he bugged me again this morning and planning to give him a piece of mind before leaving...Grrr Ekta bani anekta

    @ Ashutosh
    Hi, am here from last one+year...NO short term planned as yet...just changing house

    @ Brown Phantom
    I almost hurt my self laughing after reading your comments. Well my parents were definitely aware esp my dad who is a news buff too...but he took it very coolly. Untill in evening when he checked with me to call my cook before time and to have proper stock maintained:-)

    @ Rahul
    Pl go ahead finding the right process...would be glad.
    Good to hear about the car drive... well do not restrict yourself from doing good. And that also includes letting biharis do chat puja in maharashtra. NO offense:-)

    @ Giveindia
    Thanks...we shall pay heed.

    Wow a comeback? Welcome back to numerounity. You seem to vanish somewhere.
    REg the nightmarish event...well refer TOI today for some pictures...quite disheartening.

  7. thanks for the message...i will plant more trees than that:)

    deforestation will bring us nowhere, God knows where v r headed!

  8. That was candid enough. BTW you too write well.

    And, thanks for the comment and subtle appreciation. Keep blogging:)))

  9. @ Vinnie
    Statistics are very deisheratening on deforestation, global warming etc...wonder how life will be in coming 10 years?

    @Zillion big
    Thanks, But i couldn't write there...i tried it wasn't accepting.

  10. House problems as always.. I swear it is so diifcult to stay in rented house and that too share with many odd ppl..ask me :-)

    Girlie, like i always say- get married and build the dream home you always wanted!!

    Apart, loved the narrative...simple and flowy....like your silk duppatta in breezy chennai :-)

  11. hey Ekta,

    Sorry for dropping in after a long time..

    nice post..but your lanlord is a cruel man..bengalis never used to be like that..seems like they have changed after I left Kolkata..(no offences and racist remarks)..On a srious note, he should have called you up and enquired about you but he didn't even bothered to open the doors...shame on him / her..chalta hai ..life's like that...

    Now about the global warming..You are right , some 20 years down the line..cyclones, earthquakes, flood are gonna become regular phenomenon considering the pace with which we are playing with nature...

    nice post..keep writing ..

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  14. @ debby It is so cause it is easy to remember and identify them!!

  15. Hi, Sanchi, Debby, Hemish and Amit. Nice to see you guys.

    @ Sanchi
    Sudhar ja, kuch bhi likh deti hai!! hee hee...I still remember that duppatta story. What day that was!!
    Marriage is a great idea but you see, i must see the "preacher practising it first". hee hee

    @ Amit
    Landlords in Kolkata are big pain in neck. MY AE landlord was slight an exception when i compare it with the current ones...sigh, i miss my old house.

    BTW have you joined prakriti?

    @ Debby
    Guess all cyclones etc are named in a cute manner just as to emphasize that "all that looks cute is not cute" :-)

    May be you are right but only "cute" expressions to highlight catastrophes?!!?? :-)

  16. Marriage and me? Like you say- NO baba...spare me too!!! :-)


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