December 2, 2015

[Experiences] Life of (Chenn)ai!

Hot and humid Chennai always had a soft corner for the rain lady. He would wait with dreamy eyes, eagerly looking at the ocean, waiting for her to float by. At times, she would arrive on time and be just right to quench his thirst. But at times, like now, the December of 2015, she becomes so fierce, so full of passion that our guy is simply dumbstruck!

The reality right now: Roads caving in; Lakes breaching; Streets flooding. Electricity turned off to keep people safe; Inverters long done with dispensing the last drops of current; Children holed up in homes with no way to exert their physical energies; On social media, float around, images of cars submerged in water, of water pipes bursting out from the roads and of people in neck-deep water.

While nature streaks havoc outside, humanity rises like a benevolent wave. Hear news of mosques opening their doors to people of all religion; Of multinational companies sheltering the homeless; Of reel heroes turning real heroes, wading in deep waters, rescuing people in the city. Trains running; Traffic cops working; Fisher folk rescuing people inland; The world rushing in, with prayers and relief support. Conservative Chennai opening its doors to strangers. In power-shut dark homes, people lighting up homes with smiles and kind enquiries.

Courage and compassion shines in unexpected corners of Chennai. Waters will recede. Hoping this spirit remains. Why should we come together only in times of disaster? Nothing has changed. We have not been given super powers overnight. We are the same people, bickering over pointless issues, just a few days ago. If we could turn this energy and focus, that is obviously inherent in us, even at good times, towards the community, can we not solve many such problems even before they arise? 

Scientists in ivory towers saying theoretically they have solutions for all the problems whereas it takes decades to reach the common man, always a little too late. We have umpteen engineering colleges and an IIT to boot but have roads caving in. We still don’t have renewable energy sources to get us back on our feet instantly. There’s something missing in the picture. We should build bridges linking these seemingly disparate worlds. Opposed to this culture of students being preoccupied about grades and placements, if their involvement in their communities is welcomed and encouraged, wouldn’t that be a more satisfying education to them? Wouldn’t they leave with a smile of having been of use even before they became productive workers? We are a ‘feeling’ city, no doubt. We empathize and go beyond our limits to answer calls of help. Shouldn’t we also work on becoming a ‘thinking’ city that foresees and prepares?

Opening my eyes, I seem to have started in a placid lake and drifted away to unchartered waters. Perhaps, my thoughts too are mere things moving on their own accord, in this gushing river of my here and now!

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