It seems to be a post-26/7 phenomenon. After that day, four years ago, when Mumbai received 944 mm of rainfall and was submerged, the slightest warning of heavy rains sends people in the city scurrying home.
Weather predictions for Wednesday, however, caused a little more panic because of the possibility of Cyclone Phyan skirting the city’s coastline causing heavy rains.
Employees of government and private establishments began leaving offices after the state issued a high alert and asked everyone to reach home before evening. Schools and colleges were also shut after 1 pm.
With everyone heading home—mainly from south Mumbai to north —roads were packed earlier than usual.
“I faced more trouble because of the traffic as parents rushed to pick their children,” said Seema Parekh, a parent who lives at Kemps Corner.
Text messages started doing the rounds warning people to leave early. This added to the chaos. Parents who went to pick their kids from schools were left stranded as rickshaws were far and few at 1 pm.
“I couldn’t reach the school on time as there were not many empty rickshaws on road...,” said V Reddy from Andheri (W).
This was because autorickshaws and taxis running on compressed natural gas usually fill up their tanks between 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm when its lunch time for offices and schools.
The Brihanmumbai Electric and Suburban Transport undertaking had to introduce extra bus services and the railways had to schedule more trains to accommodate commuters.
The upside was for people who did work until the end of the day. They found the roads unusually empty because most of Mumbai was already home.