It rained and rained for forty daysy daysy,’ sang The Man from Madras Musings, during the days when he was a cherubic child of Chennai. The last two words in that line no doubt were a gruesome mutilation to rhyme with the earlier line that went – The Lord said to Noah there’s going to be a floody floody. This was the song that came to MMM’s mind as he read all the reports about the rising waters in Chennai.
There were other reminders about Noah’s Ark, for if you believed the rumours, animals were on the prowl, or at least on the swim, as the city flooded. First was the story that crocodiles had escaped from the farm just outside the metropolis and were swimming arm in arm up the Adyar River. The number of crocodiles kept varying depending upon the level of water stagnation in the locality. Thus, in Mylapore they spoke in hushed whispers of just one massive crocodile, but in Kotturpuram they were worrying about a full score of them. The farm kept putting out denials, but to no effect. It was only when the waters receded that the people in the affected areas got to know the real crocodiles – the politicians who were trying to make publicity hay while it rained.
Then came the turn of the snakes. Several poisonous varieties were spoken of – Russell’s Viper, Krait, the Hamadryads and Cobras. People claimed to have sighted them everywhere and one security guard told MMM and a friend of his of a six-foot long reptile that killed eight people in one bite. MMM could not help reflect that the snake in question must have had fangs shaped like a gearwheel to achieve that feat.
Rumours soon followed about wild animals having escaped from Vandalur Zoo. It was then that MMM had visions of creatures wandering about in twos (the elephant and the kangaroo), threes (the wasp, the ant and the bumblebee) and so on. But fortunately this too did not materialise.
If all this was not enough, there were other wild stories circulating – lakes were supposed to breach (those that did not have houses, hospitals and hotels built on their beds, that is) at short notice thereby inundating the whole city, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of USA had suddenly decided to relocate to our city and was sending out one dire weather report after the other, and lastly, a local almanac had apparently predicted the deluge all along, only nobody had noticed it till the rains actually came. It is now reliably learnt by MMM that NASA has ordered copies of the almanac.