Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chasing the Chennai Rain Dec 2015, Drive to Nagercoil

It was Dec 1, 2015, residents of Chennai were not knowing what is in store for the day, it was raining from morning and the intensity kept on increasing throughout the day to make a record 500mm rainfall in a single day, all roads were under sheet of water.

We were no exception, our house was inundated with three feet water, have to move to a neighbour's house on the first floor, our friendly neighbour took care of our food requirements for the next two days.

We waited and prayed for the water to recede, on 3rd December entered the house cleaned and assessed the damage, many household electronic items were swept away in water, we salvaged whatever we could.

Cleaned the house of the slush and we moved in to our House. But rain was unrelenting, we were afraid still what destruction it want to make, already it has caused major damage. No power, no cellphone network, landline phone was not working, all electronic equipment were damaged due to rain water.

In all this medley, we had already  booked the Bus tickets for attending a marriage in the family at Nagercoil on 5th December. Knowing the weather conditions and the rain damage made, cancelled the tickets on 4-12-15.

To understand the intensity of rain damage, All trains from Chennai Egmore, Central were suspended from Dec2 to Dec 7, Chennai airport was closed from Dec 2 to Dec 8, Arakonam was operating for handling relief team's flights. 

GST road, ECR were blocked traffic was plying on Vellore Bangalore road only. No powersupply, Cel phones were not working, ATM closed, no milk supply, It was complete standstill in all fronts.

The car stood outside and had water ingress up to the seat bottom, not sure what all is gone.
Called the mechanic on 5th December 2015, he inspected the car in the morning, air filter was completely eaten by a rat, floor carpet was soaked in that dirty water, he checked other essentials and comforted me that the car can be started.

He started, the smoke was different in colour and had a strange smell, silencer pipe was spewing water out, the engine was revved to push out the water, mechanic took the car and returned with a changed air filter and told the car can be used, and the carpet need to be cleaned with an absorbent cloth to squeeze the water out.

On 5th December started arranging the things in the house which were moved to higher heights, and cleaning of all flood water soaked clothes were in progress, slowly by afternoon again the sky turned darker announcing the arrival of next spell of rains. That made us to again move all the things to safer heights and we decided we cannot brave another rain, my friends were inviting me to visit their home in Bangalore to escape Chennai rain fury.

So finally announced to the family members by 3:30 pm, decide any place and we will move and spend the weekend and return home by Monday, let the rain god have its own fury and do at its own interest what it is intended to do.

After debating for Bangalore, settled for Nagercoil, so that we can attend the wedding, as well as we can have a word with our near and dear ones at this time of need. On top of that the toll plazas in Tamilnadu were made toll free till 11-12-15 in order to aid the flood relief is reached on time. This had an added advantage to undertake the trip.

Destination chosen by 4:30pm, next packing of the essentials, and moving valuables to high and higher places started, it was hectic one hour where we were working like assembly line factory workers.
Rain soaked Drive

Next impediment, petrol was in great demand and TV was showing visuals of huge queue in front of petrol stations, we were worried whether we will get fuel at start and also at midway. Checked with the contacts to find out the fuel availability position enroute, they assured us there are no issues for petrol availability apart from Chennai.

Checked the house finally, switched off the power, and started for Nagercoil from Chromepet at 6 pm, visited the nearest petrol pump, as expected it was crowded, stood for 25 minutes and got a tankful, moved towards Irumbuliyur and there was a big traffic block as the ROB has developed deep craters vehicles were struggling to manoeuvre, reached perungalathur, IJT bus was there, thought i could piggy back him so that there are no worries about the route to be taken.

We stopped at the Eraniamman temple, after the prayers started, it was raining to a drizzle, reached Paranur toll plaza, it was a breeze to get out without paying toll or waiting at the queue. But still the staff were counting the vehicles.

Rain was unrelenting, we were going on good speed as the traffic was sparse, IJT bus was not to be seen, and while crossing Madurantakam, car ran a pothole at good speed that made the LHS both wheel rims to be bent, with the impact, there was strange noise and wobbling was seen, there were no street lights to assess the damage, proceeded at slow speed and stopped at a street light to find out what has happened, the wheel rims were bent badly and the circular shape was gone, it made clearance with the tyre against the rim and sure air was leaking. 

All these made one thing clear, the car cannot proceed any further and even if it is driven the tyres will lose air very soon.

Not knowing what to do proceeded at slow speed expecting a tyre repair shop, as luck would have it there was a tyre alignment shop, one I20 was getting its tyre aligned, looks like he too hit the same pothole. Stopped the car and informed the person to get the rim straightened, he told he will attend to it after the I20 is ready, and told me the pothole is so dangerous it makes many vehicles affected.

He removed the wheel rims, found both the front and rear wheel rims were damaged to a great extent both inside and outside,  straightened and told wheel balancing is required as there will be wobbling if it is not done. So all repairs were carried out and started by 8:30 pm total 200rs paid, Rain was heavy again, even to enter in to the car we got our dresses drenched.

Thanked the almighty that the damage was attended to and commenced our journey, now all the rain water covered roads appeared like hidden potholes.

The Bus we booked and cancelled the tickets for Nagercoil Nanjil 5 we crossed it at Madurantakam





Reached Villupuram Arya bhavan for Dinner, had a hot dinner, for all these days we were having a frugal meal as it was not possible to bring out all the spices and condiments, the fridge was out of order, the provisions were stacked at the loft, vessels were packed in bigger containers, so we managed with minimal resources. At the hotel to say the least we had a lavish dinner with the accompaniments, three chutneys piping hot sambhar and tea.

Finished our dinner and to come out of the hotel the rain was not permitting us, it was pouring to its heart's content, the hotel staff held the umbrella to walk in to the vehicle, praised, thanked and tipped them for the service.

The journey in to the rain filled roads were continuing, thought the rain will subside after an hour or after 50 kms, but it was romancing with us, throughout the journey it was accompanying us with its generous downpour, the wipers were working at its max, even then before the return swipe the road was not visible, fogging the glass made us to switch the heater for the first time, the family was surprised that the car had the heater facility, the headlamps were appearing like a candle light brightness which was illuminating only 3 feet in the front.

Hampered by all aids, we still made the progress, expecting if any big petrol pump or way side facility came with good parking and lighting, will stop there and take some rest. But that was not the case in the blinding rain, Electricity was not there nor any safe spot was visible to us while driving.

From Ulundupet to Perambalaur, the rain was the heaviest, completely hampered the vision, no vehicles in the front or accompanied us, so continued with great caution as the roads were already flooded with water starting to stagnate on the road. Many places it was a foot of water on the highway, we splashed it, otherwise the bigger vehicle plying on the opposite lane splashed the water in to our lane, so one can imagine the water depth stagnated on the roads and the intensity of the rainfall.

Reached Konalai truck parking by 11:30 pm, had a break, now the rains were lesser, cleaned the windshields and started again.

On to the Madurai road after Viralimalai the rain god relented and it stopped to give us a dry road.
Petrol was running short and we planned to fill at the manikandam petrol pump where we usually top it up, but that pump was closed at night, will low fuel level continued till we spotted another HP pump filled the tank, as the credit card machine was not working the attender attempted many times to complete the transaction but it failed, paid cash and started.

On reaching Othakadai by 12:40am, whether to take the city road or ring road was a dilemma, took the ring road and that was horrible decision. The road was non existing, no street lights no paved shoulders and full of potholes which gave us the rim bent nightmare, 20 km of the ring road crossing was a terrible experience. Reached NH7 Kappalur and heaved a sigh of relief on looking at the black top road.

At the ringroad inspite of the bad road conditions the SETC buses were running over the potholes without any consideration, pity the passengers who must be in deep sleep to receive the bumps and jerks . Sri Jothi travels was coming along with us from Trichy, but was not able to follow him as the vehicle's wheel was splashing slush water to the following vehicle.

As i was driving continuously, now the strain was visible and wanted some rest, looked for a tea shop to stop and relax, but there were none on the highway, was frantically looking for parked trucks so that i can stop and take a much needed break and power nap, but nothing was available.

Crossed Virudhunagar, Sattur police checking barrier, that is the time i remembered, i had taken out the bag containing the car registration and insurance papers out and not put back in the car. Was afraid whether police will stop and ask for papers. But it is too late, i had missed to take the car papers. Luckily there was no stopping or checking for papers.

Crossing Sathur and thought the rain had stopped, now another spell started, saying how can i leave you dear, this was also of moderate intensity but the rain drops falling on the roof and wind shield sent shivers fearing it may turn to a big downpour. 

Crossed Kovilpatti 4:00 am, and now the pain the legs were felt, still we could not find any place to rest and stop. Rathimeena bus overtook us and zipped past us, Hindustan sleeper was doing a good speed of 95km even at the rain.

Crossed Thirunelveli bypass and continued on Highway reached Kavalkinaru by 5:20 am and purchased some sweets for the relatives as we started in a hurry didn't get anything. We were looking for the Rose bakery which was famous for its sweets, but was not able to locate, took it from Jaisun Bakery.

While waiting at Kavalkinaru Nanjil 2, 17:00hrs CMBT departure crossed us here.

After a 20 minutes break started again, and reached Vadasery Nagercoil by 6:00 am, 12 hours non stop ride covering 682 km in all. The finger joints were paining to the core due to repeated use of dim dip switch.

Attended the marriage on 6-12-15, and planned to start to Chennai by noon, but the previous day night driving taught enough lesson so postponed by a day, then mother told to take the return trip on tuesday as we planned to visit our Family deity on Monday.

Monday morning 8:45 started for our Family Deity temple at Amaravila, the famous morning rush hour traffic was not there on the Nagercoil Trivandrum Road within one hour reached the Amaravila Kasilingaswamy temple, offered our prayers and started back by 11 am. visited Kuzhiturai Sastha temple it was closed, offered for fire cracker, and purchased the famous Marthandam Honey 275rs for  Litre, reached Vadasery by 12:00pm.







On return journey started from Nagercoil on 8-12-15, the rain started on the previous night and continued, we were wondering for ourselves why again!!. Planned to stop at the Muppandal amman temple, to seek the blessings, but in the rain filled stretch it was not noticed, entered the 4 lane road and continued our journey as usual rain was in full form pouring again, switched on the radio and the FM was mentioning the Tamirabharani river is flowing to its brim, and due to the continuous rain school colleges in Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari have declared holidays, One of the grouse the Kanyakumari students were having was there were no holidays declared so far due the rains, now that wish too fulfilled, so as usual we were bringing in the heavy rain wherever we went.

Rains were continuing heavily till Sathur, after that there was no rain, reached Madurai, again we took the ringroad as we are not familiar with the city roads and one way traffic restrictions, took a wrong turn to Tuticorin road immediately retracted and joined Trichy road reached Melur by 9:50 am and had a friend waiting for us, we met and had breakfast at Temple city hotel along with Jigarthanda. Talked with him narrated the chennai rains, as he was moving to Qatar next day. took photos and started from Melur by 10:40, crossed  Trichy by 11:30am, Cauvery and Kollidam was having water flow but not brimming, anyway looking at the sand filled rivers in all these years it was a delight watching the water flow under the bridge.








Reached Ulundurpet by 12:45 pm and stopped for a lunch break. Took food from Karaikal Chettinad hotel, not sure how karaikal is famous for chettinad food, the food was not praiseworthy completed food and started our Journey by 1:45 pm.










Crossed Vikravandi, Madurantakam lake was full to the brim which was visual treat, Chengalpet Palar had water but not of any appreciable amount still many sand mounds were seen,

We entered Chengalpet in bright sunshine,  which made us to feel great that rains have taken a retreat from Chennai, While returning saw the damage the flood water has done at Urapakkam, Guduvancheri, Potheri, complete median was removed and the water flooding tell tale signs were there.

Reached home by 4 PM, complete 10 hours drive of 682 km with two breaks, which made a less tiring journey and the absence of rain.

Saw this test vehicle, not sure which car brand it is, but looked like a basic budget model, any idea??

Thanked the rain god as he had not marooned our house. So stepped in to the house to find it in is as is where is condition.

A drive which will be remembered for the driving under extreme condition.

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