India - The Morning Commuter, by Peter Fieldhouse (1970)

Calcutta in the monsoon. Commuting in Calcutta at the best of times would be somewhat different to catching the 7.40 from Surbiton to Waterloo on a typical Monday morning. There are not many buffalos or cows on the roads of Surrey; London buses do not operate 150% full with passengers hanging off the outside or crouching on the roof. The monsoon, when it comes, just adds to the fun. Weeks of torrential rain - real solid heavy rain – virtually no drains, and inevitably, all the streets are flooded. Everyone manages however, even the cows. Some manage better than others, however. As an expatriate, I was to learn an early lesson from my Indian sales manager.

On this particular Monday morning, the three or four miles to the office were completely flooded. The only incident of note was when we were passed on the main road by another commuter who had had the good sense to use a small motor boat for his journey. My driver (drivers are another commuter variation in India) navigated our car with great skill to the office - at least, he got within 30 yards of the office steps where the depth of water prevented ‘mooring’ alongside the steps themselves. There was no answer other than removing ones shoes, rolling up ones trousers and wading through the black overflow of the Houghly River.
I had just reached the steps when my sales manager’s car drew up, also thirty yards from dry land. I thought I would watch this very elegant man make his undignified way to the office steps.

No way. His driver leapt out of the car, rushed round to open the passenger door and then lifted and carried his sales manager safely through the flood to dry land – and then went to back to get his brief case. I had learned my lesson!

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