Reminiscing: Venkatesh Herkal

Reminiscing

Hi, I am Venkatesh Herkal. I am a Mechanical engineering graduate and worked for major part of my career as Manager at M/S National Rayon Corporation Ltd , a pioneer Rayon yarn producing company in India, at Ambivli/Mohone, near Kalyan.

Having migrated from Karnataka, I have been a resident of Kalyan/ Thane for the past 50 years. As such, I have had enough experience of Mumbai rains. I will be narrating one  incident in my life related to monsoon blues. On a rainy day in the month of July 2000, I was accompanying my daughter to a scheduled interview for her engineering course  admission to be held at Matunga, Mumbai. On that day, we started our 2 hr journey at 8 AM from Ambivli railway station near Kalyan. As soon as the train moved, it started drizzling and soon the intensity increased. We reached Sion, a station prior to our destination at 11 AM, late by an hour. There was no respite in the rain and it was obvious that we would be late by at least  2 hours for the interview. It turned out to be wishful thinking as the train just did not move at all. We got impatient and noticed trains moving regularly on the adjacent fast track. As we had the requisite tickets, we decided to go to Dadar, the next stop for the fast train. 

We got down and caught an outstation Express train on the other platform. To our relief, the train moved in no time and we thought we would anyway reach the venue by taking a cab from Dadar. But it was not to be so, as the train stopped suddenly due to flooding of tracks. Minutes started ticking and there was no let up in the rains resulting in increased flood fury. I tried to ring back home from my mobile phone to inform them about our plight, but couldn’t connect as the battery had drained. A gentleman sitting next to us offered his mobile phone and I could converse with my wife.       Hours started ticking. Now it was around 1 PM, time for lunch.We hoped to get some food but  no way, as the pantry car had already run out of food stocks. We could barely get a cup of tea each. 

Water level was still increasing as there was no respite in the rains. There was no electricity in the compartment and we had barely some drinking water left with us. Soon it was tea time 3 PM but to our dismay, even tea was not available. Most of the passengers were carrying luggage and were wishing for the train to move. Only a few without luggage,like us,  were wishing to get rescued anyway. 2 hours later, though the rain had reduced, water was about to enter the compartment.  The train has halted just a few  feet away from the compound wall of an adjoining residential complex. We got a ray of hope when we saw planks being put across the wall and the compartments by some people . They also convinced us to crawl across and come to safety. We did so, as also many others with less luggage. As soon as we got down to safe ground, we were given a big welcome. It was a warm welcome also as the residents had arranged for tea and snacks as well. 

The intensity of rain had reduced by then and as decided, we went to my brother in law’s residence  at Matunga by bus and  walked some distance in ankle deep water. It was 8 PM by then. Overnight, we enjoyed homely comforts there, true Mumbaikars !

Next day, it was comparatively dry. We reached the admission venue right in the morning. To our surprise, there was preferential treatment for the absentees of the previous day. Silver lining was that my daughter got admission to her satisfaction.   

To this day, I remember the harrowing experience of our prolonged journey, of 10 hrs. I still keep  thanking all those who were involved in rescuing us. My salutes to Mumbai rains and the spirit of Mumbaikars. 

I am thankful to events @ seniors today  for giving me a chance to do this Reminiscing. Being a technocrat I found it a little tough but still inspiring to write something like this after a long gap. I am also thankful to Seniors today for selecting me to sing in Seniors have talent contest season 3.      

 Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra !

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