There’s the sound of rain overhead. It does not sound like a patter or a drumming; rather, it sounds like something frying for long on the terrace. It is evening, the time rain prefers to come down on Bangalore, and this moment is a pause in the mighty pouring we’ve been experiencing for weeks now.
How we waited for this rain! It was a punishing summer that preceded these monsoons. And when rain came, it was as though it had been slapped on us. Two slaps so far this year. We’ve not been good people.
There’s no more road in Bangalore. What roads there were are now mere dirt tracks, revealing what a sham they have been. Wafer-thin layers of asphalt overpaid with taxpayers’ monies have been washed away, leaving stones and small heaps of gravel, and we’ve been driving our cars feeling like we’re sitting on ox-carts of yore, bumping along, and so slowly.
Also washed away are thirteen lives, among them a mother and her twenty-two-year-old daughter — both have not been found yet. They were flushed down a floodwater drain. Another day, a man went down an open sewer-hole that overflowing water had concealed, and died in the city’s filth. You cannot recount the manner of each tragedy, every one of them wrings the viscera. And yet, with some three weeks of such rain still to be endured, there’s not a demonstrated sense of urgency on the part of those who hold power to reduce the risk, who can save lives. Buildings have collapsed. Waters have entered and settled in drawing rooms and bedrooms and kitchens. It’s taking nearly twice the normal to commute.
Nobody is complaining, or we're not complaining loud enough. To do so is to make a mockery of yourself, to expose yourself as a naïf. We are only nursing low self-esteem, the other thing the rain and our response to it are taking away every day — self-esteem, and self-respect with it.
In such a mood, I came upon an India-story in The Guardian.
A Briton stood on the edge of a temple wall at beautiful Orchha in Madhya Pradesh. He stretched his arm to frame a selfie and slipped. I read the story of his death the day after the incident and felt as sad as any other reader of it. I wished I hadn’t read it, not in the morning at least. The man was only in his fifties, and he was on the last leg of a gap year, during which he and his wife had nearly completed a trip around the globe. I went over to their blog, scanned the pictures, read their posts a bit, felt even sadder.
A paragraph in the Guardian coverage got me, a para that appeared to have been tucked in with the sad news. It was there when I first read it, and I’d cut-and-pasted it in my journal. I went back to it now, while writing this post, and I couldn’t find the line. Neither could I find the customary admission regarding corrections that appear at the bottom of a post.
India has been dubbed the selfie death capital of the world after a study found that 60% of all accidental deaths of this nature occurred in India between March 2014 and September 2016.
“Fuck you, Guardian,” I cursed that newspaper which I respect, in language that I seldom use.