When It Rains, It Pours: What to do when things go wrong in a heap

My South Indian friend Swami had a new reason to complain since this morning – the rains. “I really got caught in the rains today – it was really bad, the weather, roads and traffic” , he told me as I met him today.

Monsoon in Bangalore is, at best, mild, so a steady bout of rain in the past 48 hours or so was enough to set the tone for a sad, wet morning for him, apparently. Unlike in places like Mumbai or Chennai, no one carries an umbrella in Bangalore. So the people with two wheelers stop in underpasses or under the remaining trees when it rains, and people with four wheelers crib about the two wheelers, and their own hardly replaced wipers when it rains. Every one else who is not on the roads and in some IT office complains about the roads and the traffic. And every one else who is not on a two-wheeler, four-wheeler or an office complains about how Bangalore is no longer what it used to be, and how it got spoiled due to the people with two wheelers, four wheelers and offices.

In Mumbai I have not seen people complain so much about the rain. The rain is heavier, the traffic is perhaps worse, and the distances definitely longer. And when it rains it really pours. So the Mumbai person resigns himself to the reality of losing a few more minutes of his daily life to his commute. Hence, people complain about the trains every year, and how they either stop or run a few minutes late when it rains. The intensity of rains in Mumbai is progressively captured when the Harbour line first gets closed, then the Central line, and finally when the Western line closes. That is when it must have really poured. Once in a while, you have really bad days when every one stays at home, or those who left early, walk back home in knee-deep water.

I may be wrong here, but like the rains, sometimes I see the same thing in the happenings around us too. When it rains, it really pours. Sometimes you get caught in the downpour unexpectedly.

So when you have Dhoni and his cricket team clicking well, you thrive on seeing them beat Australia in the quarterfinals, Pakistan in the semifinals and Sri Lanka in the finals to become World Champions. And then three months later, you have them losing Test matches badly; first by 196 runs, then by 319 runs and then by an innings and 242 runs. So when it rains, it really pours – on both sides perhaps. Looks like the world thrives on extremes.

So when you have an honest, educated, distinguished person, almost a non-politician returning to power as Prime Minister, it seems to everyone like the return of the dream team for Indian politics and economics to take us on the path of prosperity where India ‘lived happily ever after’. And then, two years later, with the economy facing problems and corruption on his back, he seems like a civics teacher with no voice, telling everyone how parliament makes laws, or an economics professor who knows the theory, but cannot quite put it to practice.

Any my broker friend says the same happens in the markets too. “When it goes up, it just keeps going up, and when it goes down it just keeps going down”, he says. But then I reminded him, “But it hasn’t gone anywhere for a while”. “Well”, he said, “when it does not go anywhere, it just does not go anywhere. Everyone is waiting for the flood or drought.” Hmm, may be, I thought.

So I told my south Indian friend Swami not to complain about rains – because it does look like when it rains, it really pours. “So I got it” said Swami – “so what’s the big deal, I still don’t like it that way. With all of us getting sticky and wet and slippery. Got to find a way out to deal with these rains!” “Do what people in Mumbai do”, said Jigneshbhai. “Carry an umbrella. Or like the ones where they don’t get enough municipal water – get your buckets out. Or better still, do this. Take a break and go to Khandala or Lonavala. At least you will enjoy the rains.”

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