Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Rainy weather friends

It was a wild and stormy night… How SHALINI BHARDWAJ and her two kids, 5 and 7 , made it through.

Reading Time: 4 minutesHorizontal rain.
I had never seen anything like it before.
The kids ran in and out of the balcony with shrills of excitement, competing to collect hailstones, as I crazily moved stuff indoors. Ultimately I stood there with the kids, marvelling at Mother Nature myself, trying to capture bits of her on my phone camera.

It had been a scorching hot summer’s day. But given Sydney’s tradition of weather surprises, come 5.30 pm, the gates of heaven had opened up, sending a huge storm our way – heavy rains, strong winds, hail and lightning. Marvelling at the spectacle from my fourth floor balcony, little did I know the party had just begun. In our unbridled fervour I did not realise the power was out. Interestingly, the gas also decided to take a break.
Hmm, how would I cook dinner? And more importantly, how will I have my cuppa – which I needed so desperately as I hadn’t eaten lunch today. Soon the joy turned into intensifying concern. The storm had started easing out but it was getting dark and now the real worry set in. Sree, my husband, wasn’t home yet from work.

Oh dear, no candles.
Phone battery down to 8%.
Now my cranky monsters began to come alive.
I started contemplating my options.
* Should I stay put or venture out in the storm?
* Call hubby home?
* What about dinner?
* Wait, how do I even get out of here? The lifts aren’t working and most likely the basement shutter is closed. And even if I get to the car, should I venture out in this weather? What if the raging storm comes back?

Finally at 7.00 pm I decided I had to get out, to feed the bambinos some dinner.

Very precariously, we got to the stairs. Thank God for the emergency lights in the stairwell. Stepping out of the building, I checked to see if the basement shutter was open. It was, hurray! Rushed down to the second basement towards our car… only to find it was all flooded. Managed to get in the car and drive out, in the dark, as there were no lights to guide us. Can’t tell you what a relief it was – I almost had tears of joy.
We walked into a suburban restaurant and I ordered pasta for kids. There was barely any space to sit, but we managed – it was communal tables all around!
By this time, close friends Manish and Madhushree had joined us. They were in the same situation, plus they knew I was alone with the kids, God bless my saviours. We stayed till 9 pm.
Didn’t know where to go after that – which means, Maccas!
The idea was to stay there until power is restored and keep the monsters busy in the play area with some ice cream and coffee for us. Perfect plan BUT as luck would have it, McDonalds greeted us with this sign: “Closed due to wet weather.”

Plan B – KFC. Rushed there to a sea of people, wet and mucky floors, and disaster, NO ICE CREAM and worse, NO COFFEE either.
Meanwhile, other friends were messaging – come over to ours, they were saying. God’s messengers, I call them now. As we stood roadside, Manish and Madhushree said perhaps we should take up their offer, as it was 10pm now. I was so touched and frankly quite overwhelmed to have such beautiful souls as my friends.
Driving over to said friend’s, we witnessed much devastation on the way, even having to take an alternate route as the road was blocked by a fallen tree. Tired, sleepy and mentally worn out, the sight of my beautiful smiling friend Natasha, a house with power, a hot cuppa and home cooked food, made me count my blessings. God sure is kind. The kids crashed on the sofa along with their friend.
Sree called me at 11 to say he was walking back home. The kids and I got home at 11:30 pm as he waited for us outside. The basement was pitch dark. Still no power. We put the kids to bed and opened all doors. The cool breeze and the quiet were soothing. Then the water pressure started reducing so the toilet tanks weren’t filing up properly – nobody use the toilets! We finally crashed into our beds at 12:30 am.
2.00 am, I heard the TV come alive, and realised power was back on. Wearily, got up to switch off lights and TV. At 6:00 am, the fire alarm started blaring. False alarm thankfully – but as usual, almost deafening, so the kids woke up in a scare, screaming. We rushed to them and brought them to our bed.
It was one crazy night…
Lesson? Don’t take anything for granted in this world. And count your blessings, especially your friends: thank God for mine at Harris Park and Rosehill.

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