The Rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain is a well-known song. In Chennai, rains are somewhat of a rarity but when they do come, they stay on the plain too, rarely making it to the drain. To the mind of The Man from Madras Musings, there are some areas in the city where gondolas need to be pressed into service as soon as it rains.

One such is this thoroughfare in Royapettah that connects to a rather important office. This road gets locked, sorry, blocked on most days for reasons of security and, so, drainage work is next to impossible. As a consequence, it is always ill-prepared for the rains and floods that almost immediately follow. This time it was no different.

The day after the rains, MMM happened to be driving by when traffic came to a halt. MMM’s car remained stationary for over fifteen minutes at the entrance to this road and he got a ringside view of how the Chennai Water Supply and Sewerage Board (or is it the Corporation) handles such situations. The police obliged by putting up the usual metal barricades of which they appear to have plentiful supply. A huge tanker lorry then pushed its way through the traffic, liberally spraying everyone around with the stagnant water. A short while later, the vehicle was brought to position after much shouting, yelling, cursing and swearing, of which we are as amply blessed as we are with metal barricades.

Four raincoated men now got out, their gumboots making for an impressive display as they waded about. MMM felt proud to see them. Chennai was becoming like Singapore, he thought, with its drain workers being so well dressed. But it went steadily downhill from there onwards.

Locating the blocked manhole proved a challenge and involved asking an evidently lower level worker (less fully clad) to grope for it. When discovered, it was opened with much effort. A tree trunk was shoved in as a marker and then a hose was reeled out from the tanker to pump out the water. Either the pressure was too high or the hose was of a sound vintage, for it immediately broke into three (or possibly four) pieces. The groping routine was repeated to locate the pieces, which then had to be tied together with rags. In the meanwhile, the water pressure was so high that it spouted up in a powerful jet, drenching everyone, that is those who had been spared by the tanker when it made its entry.

Fixing the hose after it was reassembled was a difficult task, as the water would keep pushing it away. And even when it was put into position, it kept breaking up. By then the traffic had begun to move. Last seen, MMM noticed one of the men sitting on the hose to contain the pressure while others were trying to fit the other pieces to it.

As is always the case, there were plenty of passers-by who did their bit, namely shouting advice, giving a running commentary of sorts, and generally passing the time of the day. What MMM was not prepared for was a foreigner taking pictures on his ipad. MMM looks forward to the day when he will be able to see how the story ended, probably in a video on Youtube.