I wanted to write this post before the floods. But the floods gave more reasons to write about Chennai. Whenever i hear someone complain about how the government is insensitive and the elected representatives are not doing what they are supposed to do, I will be like “Give me a break”. You are behaving like a elite apartment aunty who complains about her maid when she is not even dusting her couch. But I cannot say that anymore about Chennai.
There was also a complaint that negativity and absurdity travels much faster with the invention of social media. But I would say the positivity travels much faster too. We were just not giving it enough chance. When the floods ravaged chennai for the first day, I was like everybody else. I was furious with nature. It was sheer helplessness. We were silent witness when the water invaded our home for the third time in a month. I had charged my phone enough and foreseeing that we are not going to get power for atleast three more days, I switched off my mobile and went to sleep.
The next day morning, we couldn’t see the sun past the clouds. But we could see people wading through waist high water. I switched on my phone to see that there was no reception. I started walking with my brother to see how far my area had got affected. The street-mate I had only smiled once stopped me and asked about the number of people at our home and offered to buy milk when he bought for himself. Before we came home the milk was hot and we were welcomed with hot coffee. These people are the ones who keep Chennai moving. The driving force of how Chennai didnt stop even for a week are these people who cannot let normalcy stop even for a single day.
After waking four kilometers we were able to get reception. The fun whatsapp group I was part of had turned into a war room already. I could see atleast half of the people were involved in relief operations in field, while the rest were coordinating through whatsapp and facebook. I badly wanted to get to the field and help people. But my recent handicap didnt allow me to do so. However I was able to help atleast my street people. We connected to each other in face of adversity. Even thought the private telecoms had its trouble, BSNL came to rescue in matter of days to ensure everybody was connected with their loved ones. Few who had power supply in their houses had opened their internet for the volunteers working in their area thus helping the coordination.
A lot of people may say that the way Chennai designed itself after globalization is not satisfactory to everyone. But I was looking at it in a different perspective. A city is not just its landmarks and monuments. What makes a city is the people who live in it. The way the city had designed its people is spectacular. It was visible in Chennai flood situation too.
The otherwise unknown strangers or people who wouldnt stop to converse became friendly. Instead of blaming everything on the councillor and government we took things in our hand started coordinating things. Whenever the prices rose up we fought together. The locality people also had started hearing about people getting into street and helping other people. Soon there were more youngsters in the road than the people sitting in the house.
I would also like to mention the help came from Bangalore city, Hyderabad city as well as Kochi. The #anbodukochi initiative brought tons of relief materials to Chennai while people from Bangalore city drove tirelessly between the stretch several times, sometimes carrying people and most of the times carrying the relief material. They were the ones who were first to respond to the situation without even asking. Whatever that had separated us before didnt matter at the face of the calamity.
One thing that was gratifying in this floods is I know that I can count on my fellow Chennaite. I am sure nobody is going to let me down when I am in trouble. I am sure without even asking people will come and help me. Thanks to the incessant power cuts we have better relationship with our neighbors right now and we understand them better. I am sure nobody is going to push their garbage to street anymore.
One thing I was always sure was I love Chennai. I now know that my love for this city will remain forever. I can say from the bottom of my heart that humanity exists. When it comes out with all its brilliance we realize how petty our egos are and how overwhelming is the sense of security.
I love Chennai.
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