Last night Debbie and I went to a movie. Going to a movie here is interesting. You have reserved seats, and you often have to buy tickets as much as a few days in advance. Movies are very big entertainment and you don't just go see a popular one on the spur of the moment. We wanted some mindless entertainment so went to see "Die Hard 4." For the record Die Hard 4 was quite satisfying. You go to Die Hard movies expecting non-stop over-the-top action that strains your suspension of disbelief past the breaking point, and to see Bruce Willis be the everyman tough-guy that saves the world. It was all that. We did burst out laughing when right after one of the nearly endless ridiculous fight/chase/explosion scenes they stopped for the intermission. Indian movie houses still have intermissions.
But none of that is what prompted me to post.
After the movie (around midnight) as we were leaving we noticed little knots and clusters of people just standing around. Some of them semed to be chatting, but mostly they just seemed to be hanging out. We thought it was a little odd, since it seemed to us that it was quite late and there was nothing open in the mall, but our life here is full of these little mysteries. As we decended four escalators to the ground floor and approached the front door, there seemed to be more and more of these little groups of people till we finally got to the front door and saw what seemed to be a farily large crowd just inside the door.
There was a bright flash from outside and I noticed the floor was quite wet. It was at this point we realized why people weren't leaving - it was pouring down rain outside. Ok, it's the monsoon, it's supposed to rain, but this was our first real experience with it.
As I approached the door and peered out to see just how bad it was, a short auto driver with a towel as a turban approached me and said "Auto sir?" I said "We want to go to Safina Plaza." He bobbed his head and gestured for us to go. Not so fast I thought. "How much?" I didn't want to bargain standing in water up to my ankles in the pouring rain. "Hundred rupees" he says and grins at me with gutka stained teeth. I laugh and consider bargaining with him. Normally the fare should be under 20 rupees, and late at night maybe 30 or 40. I look him in the eye "At this time of night, in this rain? Sure."
We set off through the downpour, across the marble terrace in front of the Garuda mall. Our driver slips once on the slick surface and I say "be careful!" We go down the steps, holding the handrail. He gestures to the autos parked in front, and when I look I realize the road is completely flooded. The water is up to the axles of the little autos. We step out into the flood, and weave between the autos. I wonder which is his, when he sets out across the street! Oh my god, his auto is on the other side of the street. Oh well, what to do? We gamely follow him, the water slowly getting deeper, up to my ankles. I resign myself to flooded shoes, when I notice that he's pointing behind him. "Watch out for the curb" I tell debbie. She looks worried so I go back to hold her hand. We step off and the water is now partwayup my calves. I notice this water doesn't smell so good. Lovely.
Crossing the street in front of Garuda Mall can be tricky even in daylight in dry weather. There's usually a ton of traffic, half of it is turning so you can't tell which way it's going to go, and none of it is going to stop for a pedestrian. At midnight, in the pouring rain, with the road flooded it's even scarier. The only good part is that there is very little traffic, and most of it is using their headlights. We make it across the street to the auto, and pile in. As we get in the auto tips towards us slightly and the pool of water that has collected on the canvas roof sluices off on our side. That's ok, we were already wet, at least this water is relatively clean. The driver takes us a circuitous route, maybe avoiding flooded roads, we worry briefly that he's taking us to some deserted alley to hold us up for more money, but nothing like that happens and we eventually make it home.
The power is out, no surprise, but we strip out of our wet clothes by flashlight and light some candles. Suddenly there's a giant bright white flash and KA-BOOM! Lightning has hit something very close by but we don't care, we're safe at home.