Saturday, July 30, 2005

A little too close to home
When reports of flooding from the monsoon in India came across the wire, my first thought was how sad for the villagers. I know the rains are hard on the many poor and rural areas of that country every year, but it was just a sad side note to the evening's news. But within hours it hit home with the report of 37 inches of rain in Mumbai (aka Bombay) and people trapped in buses and trains in the city. My dad is working and living there. Early reports weren't extremely scary -- just people stranded. Sent my dad an e-mail -- "Hi, Daddy. Just checking to see if you are OK. Read about the monsoon on the AP wire." No answer. The news becomes more bleak -- more than 300 dead in Mumbai alone and I start to panic. I check my e-mail several times an hour. I look through photos on the wire -- for what I'm not sure (may be a glimpse of his office or his apartment building, even though I don't know what either looks like.) I constantly skim the world wire for updates and the death toll continues to climb. That night with no word I can't sleep. I sit up, hitting the "check mail" button every few minutes and reading the news online. I try to make a call to his office, but it won't go through. Morning comes without any word. I know from the wire that the electricity and phones are out in most of Mumbai. But still I look for the message that isn't there. I go to work in the afternoon and begin the process again. Check the world wire, do some copy editing, check the e-mail, do some page designing, check the world wire and so it goes for 10 hours. Until I get the call. My dad has called my house from his mobile phone -- the first communication device he could get to work in two days. He tells my husband he is safe -- safe in his lucky 13th floor apartment in Mumbai. His office is under water, literally. But he is safe at home. Others are not so lucky. They pulled 22 bodies from a lake he can see from his window and there are many more.

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