Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Riding through a thunderstorm

It was Summer May 2007. Thunderstorms of summer are so welcome to push the mercury down.  This is the time when Nature removes weak tree branches and even trees.  I like to add that it is also a time when the drains get overhauled!  

It was a working day.  That evening, threatening dark rain clouds had quickly gathered and a drizzle had started.  Since it was exactly at the sign-off time, I decided not to wait for the rain to clear up because these rains can go on for more than an hour. Here I found a good opportunity of rain-drenching which I like.  It was just a ten-minute ride back home, but this ride soon turned out to be a most scary one!  I was on my scooter and my same-campus-employed wife was on the pillion.

[This is a picture from this year, 2012 April taken moments before a heavy thunderstorm.  The setting was similar in 2007 as well.  Wind was strong but not to that extent]

The drizzle had turned steady by the time we moved out of the campus.  Loud claps of thunder and many strong bolts of lightning were making the situation tense.  Very soon, it had begun to pour and in no time we were drenched.

The wind speed had soon reached '5th gear', so to say and rain had begun to pour cats and dogs.  Tree branches were swaying at angles they had never swayed before, and dangerously.  The tearing wind was ripping away leaves from road-side trees.  I could hear smaller and weaker branches creak, crack and snap. The road was already scattered with these tree-debris which were flying many yards away, with the wind.  My head was protected with helmet, but my pillion's just the sari end, held up on the head.  My open-face helmet had a peak. Yet, thick  rain drops were splashing into my eyes as I rode slowly and cautiously, trying to keep them open all the while. Blinking was not of much use but wiping with my left hand often somehow helped. The right hand was on the throttle.

Half way through, I took a deviation from our normal route and I still cannot remember why.  It was through one of city's old roads [earlier named as 100-feet Road] having 80-100 years old huge avenue trees that was provides excellent shade from the sun.  The road appeared like a 'tree tunnel' which was very wild on this occasion.  I had to pass through this stretch of about 200 metres.  The wind was very forceful now, capable of uprooting trees.  It was even pushing our vehicle and keeping it in balance was tricky.  A couple of large twigs fell a few feet away from us.  We thanked the stars, but there was still some way to go.  We were exposing ourselves to such a risk, what with bolts of lightning, old trees and electric poles under them holding up overhead power lines.  We were now only a couple of minutes away from home.  There were hardly any vehicle on the road!  Those who had taken shelter in various shops were looking at us in awe.  I could make it out despite the rain splashing on the face. 

Fortunately, we reached home safely, one hundred per cent drenched.   There was an unusual sight when I stopped in front of our gate. My neighbour's tall Sandal Wood Tree was lying flat on our house!  It could not withstand the fury of the storm.  The storm calmed after about 30 minutes but the cloudburst continued unabated for another hour. The next day's papers were filled with news and images of the havoc this thunderstorm had caused in and around the city - breaking huge tree branches, uprooting trees, house collapses, tree branches falling on electric poles and snapping them, clogged drains, etc.  It was hectic work for the related staff the next day.  They all dread such days!  

Our neighbour's servant had to clear up the mess from our yard the next morning on priority. It was heavy work for him to cut down all the branches. Luckily for us, the fallen tree had not damaged our compound wall, but it had fallen on the garden arch and crookedly bent it.  Straightening it back was tough work for me.  The fallen tree was resting on our parapet but there was no damage to the old lime plastering.  Here are a few pictures I captured after the rain abated. 

Fallen tree.

Another view of my garden with neighbour's tree falling across.  

Pond is obscured by the hanging pots.  The net above it can be seen.

 Luckily no damage to our old house.

 Yet another view of my garden.

On the streets, people from the lower strata who inhabit the neighbouring area came to collect fallen twigs by stripping off the leaves. They take them for firewood.

Who does not like the smell of earth after the rain esp. after a dry spell of summer. We had now got into dry clothes to take in that heavenly smell.  The 3-km. ride seemed like 30.  I dread to recollect the scenario now.  It was a dangerous adventure in reality.