We woke up and it was still dark outside when it should have been light.
I peeked out of the window and a small lake had formed on the ground outside our window.
I walked to the entrance and knew it must have rained all night and it must have been heavy. Outside the guest house there was a large walled area where students would park their cars. This now resembled a lake and the pathways were littered leaves, branches and other debis from the many campus trees.
I received a call from Dr Mei. Chennai was closing all educational establishments for a week. A few students who lived in the hostel would remain as they could not arrange their travel. The cafeteria would continue to service food requests. Guest house staff and campus security would remain but the remaining students and staff would be leaving.
That evening I tried to make a call on mobile but there was no signal. I picked up Bobby’s phone and it was the same. I needed to check on Bobby’s Ayurvedic appointment for the next day so went to reception. The staff tried to get an outside line but could not, only the internal campus switchboard was working. I asked the staff to switch on the news but was told that all channels were dead.
In fact all mobile phones, landlines, internet and television were non-existant.
I knew something was very wrong and then my mobile rang. Everyone jumped. It was Rahim and what he told me in a barely audible and crackling conversation confirmed my fears.
The adjacent location the Walkmobile was parked in was flooding rapidly from the street. They were already in waist deep and water would soon be entering the steps. If he didn’t move now, the Walkmobile would be stuck. I told the staff to alert campus security whose guard house was close to the gates of the bus parking compound. I tried to speak to Rahim again but the my mobile signal had gone dead again. It was the last phone conversation I would have for a while.
I waited anxiosly at the entrance to the guest house. I couldn’t even step onto the pathway as it was ankle deep in water.
Over an hour later, Icould see the Walkmobile whose headlights were makinga valiant effort to pierce the heavy rain and light the way forward. I could see the bottom third of the vehicle was covered in a film of red mud.
Rahim parked up and ran over to me getting soaked in the short run.
We’d had no news from the outside. He was currently my eyes and ears. I listened with my mouth wide open.
He told me that rainwater from the road had breached and was pouring into the parking compound at such a rate that two security guards struggled in waist deep water to open them against the flow. This had taken 40 minutes.
The road outside could not be seen and all of the roadside businesses he could see in either direction were totally flooded and the water was rising.
He also said the power was out and the staff confirmed that they had been running on generator power for the best part of the day. As far as they knew, power was out to mopst of the city.
There was also no traffic on the roads. No trucks, no buses, no taxis … nothing.
The guest house staff received an internal phone call. The lower gound floor rooms had flooded which included specialist labs, the campus bank and the cafeteria. The staff assured us it was their responsibility to ensure the students and guests on campus had power, water and food.
We ate in the dining room as a few families arrived. They were faculty members whose houses had flooded and had struggled to get to the guest house as they knew it would be a safe location to ride out the weather.
Back at our room there were still no comms, internet or TV but I followed a ritual which I repeated many times daily just in case something was restored.
I didn’t sleep much that night as the sound of the rain seemed somewhat louder.