We, The People of Chennai

This post is a memory. A very precious one, which would find place as a seperate chapter in my autobiography, if I ever write one that is.

I realised “We” for the first time, when my beloved city was being pounded by rains, in November- December 2015. It was a daunting time for all of us and what are the odds for a person to come and stay in Chennai from a safer place exactly two days before the fateful December 1, 2015. That was the day when Chennai had the final nail on its coffin. Or it did seem so.

Tales of despair came in from everywhere. Many parts of the city were submerged in the water that had overflown from the lakes and reservoirs. The city itself was cut off from the rest of the country, with relief materials pouring in from everywhere.

We really saw what nature could do, when pushed to its nasty extremes.

You know how it feels when the place you have lived and loved all through your life gets submerged in water? It is inexplicable.

I have never heard or been in such a situation in Chennai before this. It has been raining for the past 24+ hours non-stop and Chennai is completely isolated from other parts of the State. All the entry and exit points have been cut-off and the rail and air terminus have been shut down. Trains and flights have been cancelled and the only mode of transportation that is still plying is the bus. That is unreliable and dangerous too,given the circumstances.

We have the Indian Army deployed here for the relief work and the forecast for two more days from today looks grim. Houses in the ground and first floors are flooded and people have taken shelter in high rises.

The magical part of all these is that We are still alive and thriving.

Chennai twitter is abuzz with help pouring in,not from anywhere else, from the Chennaiites itself. More than 3000 people have opened up their homes, hotels,offices etc to provide shelter to those who are stranded. Many people have come forward to recharge the phones with a small amount so that they can get in touch with their families and loved ones and assure them about their safety. Scores of people have offered to cook a meal for the needy and services of picking those meals are underway. Several Star hotels have prepared food packets for the people and are looking for help to distribute it to those in need. Malls and cinema theatres have been magnanimous enough to offer to accomodate people for free.
So yes, we are alive and surviving.

It is a very tough situation in Chennai right now. This is the second spell of rains lashing the city in less than a month’s time and trust me we are struggling. But, we are also helping and reaching out to people in whatever small ways that we can. I have heard and seen pictures of common people giving packets of biscuits and other eatables to the Traffic cops and the Bus drivers who are working their asses off to ensure that the people are safe.

Sadly, we had to put in lots of efforts to inform our counterparts in the other parts of the country through media like Facebook and Twitter since, well, the National Media has other important things to cover and publicise, like the Sheena Bora Murder case and How Rahul Gandhi had the nerves to speak in The Parliament.

We have observed the spirit of Brother-hood from the Mumbaikars in similar situations and I am so proud to say that we are implementing that darn well too.

We are gonna survive this and come back stronger than ever. We are waiting for the rains to subside a little so that we could be back on track at the earliest.

Thanks Karthika Krishnakumar for the mention in your answer. That brought me to this question.

Thanks a lot OP, for the concern. I would suggest you to help in any small way you can, which would include sharing any post in any social media that asks for help or gives information about helpline numbers and other facilities. Your one small act could be a life saving ray of hope for someone here.

Thanks a lot again.

This was me, on December 2nd, doing whatever I can to help people connect.

More such experiences can be read in this Quora thread.

We feel proud that the barriers were broken.

Actors, Singers, Employees, Home-makers, Entrepreneurs etc came together as a family to throw open their homes to strangers in need. Malls and multiplexes did their part in accomodating people who had lost their homes to water. Chennai woke up, from its seemingly deep slumber.

A city, which might have come across as indifferent and a tad too selfish, broke its image and took to the streets. Thousands of food packets were made and packed, rehab work went on full swing and life slowly returned back to normal.

Man-made barriers were destroyed by nature, which made us destroy the barriers that we had constructed among ourselves. 

Image Source- Tehelka

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