And then on July 26, the skies burst. A meter of monsoon rain fell on Saki Naka in 24 hours. Under the weight, the 30-meter cliff behind the Afzad family home collapsed. The approximately 25 shacks that had perched on top of the cliff fell onto another 25, which, like the Afzad's, were nestled below, according to Bombay Joint Chief Fire Officer G.S. Sawant. The landslide killed 150 people, including Afzad's parents, three teenage sisters, and his 12-year-old brother
By week's end, the authorities said the floods had killed 370 people in Bombay and around 700 across Maharashtra state, and had caused some $400 million in damage. The storm effectively shut down the city of nearly 20 million. Power and telephones were cut. Without staff or customers, stores closed. Trains and buses stopped running, and planes were grounded because the international airport was flooded. Streets stayed blocked for days, gridlocked by vehicles whose drivers had abandoned them. If Bombay really is the business capital of the next big economy, asked the city's stranded businessmen, how come the entire infrastructure crumbled in just over a day of heavy rain? What was wrong with the drains? Where were the police, the ambulances, the army? Ramila Sreedhar, a window-blind manufacturer from Madras, fretted about how the disaster would look to foreign investors. "They'll go back home and say, 'Forget India. They're 50 years behind'." That's the thing about dreaming: Eventually, you wake up.