Waiting in vain

This week end was a trip down memory lane for a displaced Madrasi. Expected lightning, thunder, strong winds, heavy downpours et al & got zilch, as Hurricane Rita bypassed Dallas altogether. I am certainly grateful that Rita did not wreak the sort of havoc Katrina did, but it did bring back memories of those innumerable “depressions in the bay” that promise rain to Madras, but almost always fail to deliver.

I suspect that Madras is rather like an “engine driver” – the one thing that so many little boys want to be when they grow up, but few actually do, and if they do, it doesn’t look like it was by choice. Every baby depression in the Bay of Bengal expresses similar ambitions, “When I grow to a decent size, I want to blow all over Madras!” But once maturity hits them, they always find more popular destinations – Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal or decide to go “phoren” & pack their bags off to Bangladesh…

Come November, every Madrasi would allow himself to get all excited over yet another depression – the older members of the family allow themselves a fond, if elaborate dream – two days worth of rain seeping into the parched earth of Madras, and miraculous raising the water table to a level that lo and behold, you turn on the tap, and water (not air) flows! The children dream dreams of schools declaring a holiday… The folks over at the electricity department dream of the number of hours they can shut off power “poyal kathula kambam vizhunthidichu, saar!” The bitter irony is that only the TNEB employees’ dreams ever came to fruition most of the time.

Hurricane Rita was the same – well, almost. Of course, Americans are more fun to watch, as they panic so adorably. People bought cans & cans of drinking water, groceries (only stuff that’ll keep even if the power & ergo the refrigerator goes), torch lights, DVDs (we may be stuck inside the house for ages!), board games (in case the power gets cut off), called friends & family to reassure them that they were well prepared, and of course filled up their Hummers & F-150s convinced that gas prices would hit $5… Finally, not a drop. It was pleasant on Saturday evening – a pleasant breeze was in the air, brining a brief respite from the stifling heat. By Sunday, Dallas realized that Rita was just a hoax & the temperature climbed back to the usual 90s (It’s practically OCTOBER! When will Mamma Nature realize this?) .

Ah well. Born Madrasi that I am, I still nurture hopes. One of these days, Dallas is going to have to realize that this is fall. And that day, the temperature will start to fall, and this city will become habitable again. As for Rita – you tease, you don’t break my heart. Been there, done that.


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