It’s monsoon season here in Bangalore and it is raining….a lot. So much so that the monsoon is a record breaker with at least 17% more rain in Bangalore than ever recorded apparently. That means it is raining for a few hours each day, usually in the evening or at night, and the rain is heavy. It’s not the constant insipid cold rain from the UK, this is buckets being thrown down in a matter of minutes, and it’s warm.
It’s worth stating at this point that my husband Rez flew to the UK at the weekend on a business trip, so isn’t at home.
Last night it rained constantly and hard. I know this as I was up several times in the night with Bangalore Belly (yes, again!) and heard it thundering down. What I didn’t hear was the waterfall outside our bedroom. There is a balcony at the front of the house, with a drain hole. Water from the roof drains off directly onto the balcony (what an amazing thought through design feature that was). The drain can usually cope with the rain from the roof and directly falling in the balcony and we have a inch step at the door to prevent flooding. That’s all very well until ‘someone’ (not me, and none in the house is admitting to it) decides to place an upturned bucket over the drain hole. As a consequence of this ingenious action, water rapidly gathered and arose above the step.
Zahra’s room was completely floooded. Her rug was sodden. As the bedroom was overflowing the water escaped over the top of the stairs and directly into the lounge and Rez’s office. Both were flooded with at least an inch of water. The Persian rug in the lounge soaked up a lot of water and prevented some further damage. The computers were sat in an inch of water, as were the plug sockets on the floor, and the wifi. It was a mess.
Zahra had a sleepover at a friend’s house last night so I went to open the curtains in her room. I stepped onto the landing, at the top of the stairs, and into a puddle. I stopped dead in my tracks. A puddle at the top of the stairs is super dangerous. I then looked up to the skylight overhead thinking it might have leaked, but there were no obvious signs. I grabbed a towel to soak up the water and opened the door to Zahra’s bedroom. It was a pool of water. Everything on the floor was sodden, her rug included. I gently paddled my way in and opened the door to her balcony. It was completely flooded. I turned and looked at the drain to see that an upturned bucket was covering the drain. I paddled out into the water and removed the bucket. Water imediately started gushing down the drain.
Becoming Bambi on ice
At this point the doorbell rings. It’s 7:30am and I have no idea who would be ringing the doorbell that early. Still in my PJs I bid a retreat from the pools and go downstairs. I step off the bottom step into a pool of water. I stop, confused. Why is there water down here? I step onto the Persian rug and it is sodden and squelches under my feet. I step towards the door an immediately become Bambi on ice, fall flat onto my back, smacking my head on the marble floor and slide with my feet in the air to the door, where I was able to plant them firmly with a thud. Both my hands are holding my head, which is soaked from the water I am now lying in. My PJs are soaked. Yet still I get up and open the door as though nothing has happened and discover the temporary driver has turned up early. He looks at me and I look at him and say “the house is flooded, please just wait” and hand him the car keys. How very British!
Surveying the damage
I close the door and grab my head. It’s hurting, a lot. I gingerly step through the puddles, sopping wet, to the bottom of the stairs. I survey the mess. The lounge is flooded. Rez’s office is flooded. The computer is sat in a puddle of water, as are cables and electrical sockets. I hold my head and wonder where to start. I decided on a shower first. Goodness knows what came in with that rain water, but I was now covered in it. I walk back upstairs and take a shower. Washing my hair I can feel a lump forming, it’s very sore. I quickly dress and go back downstairs. I Whatsapp some friends and ask for help. I ask the driver for help – and I have never met him before. As is traditional in India he went to remove his shoes before entering the house; I told him not to. He walks in and stops immediately. He tells me it’s a bad flood. (With a throbbing head I missed the opportunity for a sarcastic response.) He goes off to find a squeegee mop thing to just pushed the water out of the house.
The clean up
As we start cleaning up with a squeegee mop, ordinary mops and towels, friends start to turn up to help. All have the same astonished reaction at the amount of water in the house. Kirin has already arranged for extra help. Atifa asks me how I am. I feel my head and find a huge lump. Atifa does too and immediately tells me I have to go to the hospital. Kirin insists. Reluctantly I leave the clean up to others and head to the hospital with Kirin.
On the way to the hospital I receive a call from school. It’s the school nurse. Zahra has a fever, is not well at all and needs to come home. I am in a car on the way to the hospital myself and feel a bit helpless. Kirin took control and calls her husband and tells him to pick up Zahra from school and bring her home. I advise the nurse of the plan and she wishes me well too.
I now wonder if this day can get any worse. (Thankfully it didn’t.)
We arrive at the main entrance and have no idea where accident and emergency is. Kirin asks and is directed to follow the signs through the hospital. It’s a good job I wasn’t critical because I would have died on the journey through the maze. (We later discovered there was a separate entrance, around the corner and out of sight, for accident and emergency). We explain to a Dr what has happened and he nods and says “fast track” to a nurse. We stand there and look lost for a few seconds before another nurse guides me to a bed. I try to climb on but the wheels haven’t been fixed and the bed slides away from me. I quickly stand up and let go of the bed before I injure myself again. The nurse didn’t apologise and merely locked the wheels and told me to lie down.
I explain to her that I can’t lie down as I have a massive lump at the back of my head. She goes and speaks to the Dr who comes over. I explain I have a huge lump on my head and I am not lying down. He prescribes an ice pack and tells the nurse I can sit up. He disappears. Some time later he reappears and starts asking me a multitude of questions: did I pass out or faint?, have I a history of heart problems?, was I unconscious at any point?. Clearly my description of slipping and falling on my arse and sliding to the front door wasn’t cutting it. Kirin tells the Dr what happened. He then feels my head and says ” oh, that’s a big lump!”. (Again I missed the opportunity for a sarcastic interlude.) He tells me I have to have a CT scan and they would take some blood tests. He tells Kirin to go and register me (that means they set up a tab for billing later).
The nurse comes along and inserts a long needle into the back of my hand. “Just a slight scratch” she says as she pushes a 10cm needle through the thin skin on the back of my hand. ‘Slight scratch’ my arse! I could feel that needle all the way in – it flipping hurt. The nurse then took enough blood for a transfusion never mind some tests. I did wonder whether they were short of a few pints of O+ and took the opportunity to stock up their reserves. She then administered some fluid paracetamol as the Dr didn’t want me to eat until after the CT scan. Then she gave me an ice pack and left.
After quite a short interlude the Dr was back advising me my blood sugar was low and they were going to put me on a drip. My blood sugar was low as I hadn’t eaten or drank a thing since waking up and it was now nearing noon! It doesn’t take a Dr to figure out my blood sugar might be low because of that. Anyway, I am now hooked up to a drip with an ice pack at the back of my head.
Kirin is running around arranging things in the background so I don’t have to worry about anything. Zahra had been safely delivered back home and Saroja was looking after here. Sophie went round to check on her and reported back that she was unwell but basically fine. Saroja was busy cleaning up the mess with Anan (the replacement driver). I start to relax a little and realise how much my head hurts…like really hurts. I feel the lump that is now cold from the ice pack and can’t quite believe how big the lump is. All from slipping in water.
The nurse returns with a wheelchair. I get in after being detached from the drip. I am wearing shorts and a tee shirt. The sight of my glaring white legs reflecting the ceiling lights is clearly dazzling everyone and before we leave the emergency room three doctors yell for a blanket to cover me. Yes this is India and ladies do not display their legs. But you know, I was in a bit of a rush and modesty wasn’t the first thing on my mind when I left my flooded home this morning.
I get wheeled through various corridors and up in the lift and through various waiting areas, all whilst being stared at. We reach the CT room and it is occupied so I have to wait in the corridor – but this is fine as the nurse then covers up my tee shirt and arms as well in the blanket. I definitely won’t offend anyone now – I look like I am in a straight jacket.
The CT scan takes a few minutes and I am wheeled back to the emergency room and re hooked back up to the drip. We await the scans. The drip finally finishes and it is removed. We await the Dr to go through the scans. He confirms that I do indeed have a brain – he can see it clearly on the scan. I don’t have any fractures or bleeding on the brain – so all good. I do however have a flipping great big lump on the back of my head. He explains that this is better as it is a soft tissue injury and will eventually go down with ice packs and prescribes plenty of paracetamol for the pain.
Great – I can leave. Well no, not quite. We have to await the discharge report and pay the bill. Kirin goes off to pay the bill but there is a computer glitch which means they can’t add on all the treatment I have had to the bill. I didn’t see what happened but Kirin told them to write a manual bill and she paid that. About INR 5000 in total ( Note to self: I need to pay her back!). I had to ask for a nurse to remove the needles from the back of my hand otherwise I wokukd be walking out of the hospital with them.
Kirin drops me off at home and I am truly grateful, for her accompanying me to the hospital and looking after me whilst I am there. She had to rearrange her whole day for me.
I get in the house and Anan has already told me it is all done and finished. I see Zahra lying on the couch, looking quite a sorry state, and Saroja in the kitchen preparing lunch (great timing!). The house has indeed been all cleaned up. Rugs have been washed and are hanging out to dry. Water all cleared and floors mopped. Towels washed and hung it to dry. It was a completely different scene than the one I left in the morning. Friends popped by to see if I was ok, and relieved to know I was.
Zahra is till running a temperature and feeling quite poorly. I am now discovering new aches and pains from my fall.
A Bad Day in Bangalore
It was a bad day in Bangalore. I have a headache from hell and my daughter is unwell. No parent likes to see their child ill, you just feel helpless. Dealing with a flooded house, injuring myself and looking after a sick daughter is too much in one day. I have survived it, so far, with the help of some truly wonderful friends. It could have been a lot worse and I am thankful it wasn’t. It was a bad day but tomorrow is a brand new day.
* Update: The newspapers are reporting 122.5mm of rain fell in 5 hours in Jakkur (where we live). The highest rainfall in Bangalore. A lot of houses in our complex flooded as a result.