BY THE WAY | Forget Gurgaon, Assam: If not rain, give Chandigarh the headlines

  • Aarish Chhabra, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Aug 01, 2016 21:30 IST
Monsoon has been here for a month now. Technically. But rain has hardly showed up, and that too mostly late at night. (HT File Photo)

Look, Assam can have its floods, and Gurgaon can get as jammed as it wants to. In Chandigarh, we get neither, and we couldn’t care less. But hey, Lord Indra, that does not mean we don’t need rain, man!

Monsoon has been here for a month now. Technically. But rain has hardly showed up, and that too mostly late at night. Worse, you have to chase it.

Take the case of the Thursday night that just went by.

No rain at all in Mohali as we leave office. But that’s all right. Progressive Punjab’s regressive drains can hardly handle it. The sky is overcast and the weather extremely pleasant after a day in the furnace. It’s only somewhere in Sector 21, the middle of Chandigarh, that the skies open up. Where was it through the day? Why an hour past midnight? It seems the rain wants to remain a secret.

Anyway, instinctively, we drive towards the lake with the hope that the northern, ‘posh’ sectors of our class-obsessed city would, as usual, get a better deal from God too. The plan is to do some legal things such as drinking coloured water in the car, and then relive childhood by jumping in the temporary puddles that would go away as soon as the rain stops. Chandigarh is fancy like that.

We exit Sector 21. Rain stops. Smiles recede.

I know monsoon rain can be funny like that. But, in Chandigarh, you cannot have a situation where sectors north of Madhya Marg get a raw deal. Sector 8 is no Sector 42, if you know what I mean, OK! So we try another route, and, lo, it’s raining in Sector 17. We cross Madhya Marg and enter Sector 10, and then it starts losing momentum. Abruptly, it stops, and we brake the car too. Here’s the situation. Half of our car has rain pounding at its roof, but the bonnet is in dry land. No, seriously, true story. An older friend, who clearly has some experience in having fun, hits upon an idea. On cue, we go around the car in circles, moving from monsoon and back, round and round. Coloured water has had effect.

Round and round is all that this monsoon too has been up to. We’ve had to faux-sympathise with our friends in bigger cities, many of them drowned in traffic jams made worse by the rain gods. Here in Chandi-lala-Land, where the idea of a traffic jam is five metres long and drains actually work, we could have handled that rain better. Yet, it rains where people hate it. In Modern Love terminology, this is clinginess. It has rained even in nearby towns such as Patiala and Ludhiana, and even in that faraway desert called Bathinda, and we have only got to go roundand round.

Our seasonally-accurate weatherman has said this July has been among the driest Julys in years for Chandigarh. With the benefit of hindsight, I could have told you that. Where are those rain-inducing devices and planes and stuff that we keep hearing about?

And, if not rain, what are we getting instead? Front-page headlines.

When it was not raining pre-monsoon, in local pullouts for the tricity and neighbourhood, we were wondering where the clouds were. When we did not have that making news, we were wondering if the drains were ready for a deluge. Are we rain-ready, we wrote and read. Look, a polythene bag stuck in that drain in Sector 7! We need to haul up officials for this. Where is the mayor? The rain is here, almost, and he’s busy messing up the parking system? Mixed-up priorities, I tell you.

Worse, slowly we are losing the headlines too. Not only is the ‘weather story’ getting underplayed on Page 1, but on some days it is being relegated to ‘inside pages’. That’s plain unfair. After all, we can always scale the story up by adding the climate-change angle.

But, here again, a tragedy of Chandigarh is playing out. The city is not big enough to merit coverage that Delhi and Bombay’s too-much-rain/too-little-rain stories get in print and on TV. Yet, it’s not as exotic and distant enough as Assam to merit compensatory front-page, high-decibel coverage for a couple of days after that.

Don’t do this to us. Granted, we don’t live in some urban ghetto of the NCR, nor do we curse our engineering degree and working hours on Facebook all day while sitting in a glass-and-plastic-obsessed office in Bangalore. But who cares about Assam and rhinos and people there? If the metros are getting so much coverage for so much rain, why is our metro-in-waiting getting so little coverage for so little rain? Put us on TV too.

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