It been rightly said that the true strength of a person becomes visible when problems arise. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. This belief of mine had never been stronger until I witnessed Chennai and the aftermath of the floods. Devastating conditions. Thousands of houses submerged underwater , Hundreds passed away, the State is dealing losses worth Thousands of Crores and of course the state of mind which the people were going through no amount of money can bring it back. The comfort of their lost loved ones, no relief or rehabilitation can bring it back. The feeling of security of living under the roof has been threatened. Its been a week since the floods have come, the water has receded in the city, however some low lying areas and outskirts are still recovering the lives of the 4th largest City of India are all back to normalcy. But the most remarkable and amazing things I’ve come thorough is the the enthusiasm with which people are contributing towards relief operations. 10th of Dec I was at Ramaswamy Mandappam where 100s of volunteers were preparing relief kits for the people. I had never seen such systematic and organised approach. It was truly amazing. It was almost a 10,000 sqft room where different groups such as Rice, Daal , Spices were created. The was created such “The daal team in a gunny bag keeps a kg of daal and passes it on to the rice department, keeps a bag of Rice in the gunny bag and the over to the spices and oil department, The gunny bag is then tied and taped which is loaded on to the truck through a chain of youngsters passing the bags one after the other. I could see little girls, 7 years old were assembling relief kits for the people. Little gentlemen trying to pickup packets of rice and passing it ahead. The highlight of the day came when I was the Nehru Indoor Stadium, as I entered the entrance I saw a similar chain of people transporting relief kits in the truck but when i stepped inside the stadium, I was baffled. Totally!! Thousands of volunteers packing kits, filling materials, passing it on. And moreover the army was involved too!! I really had to appreciate the amount of love and respect the City and its people share for each other. Everyone is trying to do something atleast. The unity of this place makes me feel really very happy and very proud about the people here. I have been getting a lot of insights since I’ve come to Chennai to assist Goonj for relief operations with my friend Kishore Godithi from Lemon. One of the most important thing I’ve realized being here is,Every piece of Technology ever been created becomes obsolete or let me put it straight, “useless” when it comes to Mother Nature’s fury. No Software or Hardware could mitigate the flood. But i the end, it was the people themselves who joined hands together and have since then i trying to provide for 1000s of families everyday. A living example for United we Stand!!! Later in the day I came to know that the Colleges had also joined hands, Loyola college housed over 2000 people during the floods and their outreach team is working on ground for the welfare about the people. Its interesting to know that students at Loyola do not get their Degree unless and until they serve a particular time amount of time to community welfare.
Well it wasn’t all work and no play here. The very next day I moved to the Goonj warehouse at OMR that Old Mahabali Puram Road. That’s where the action began. My first day of full fledged relief work. Picking and stacking boxes, assembling them, unloading minimum 6 trucks i a single day. Wasn’t so easy after all. But the feeling that kept me going was the thought that someone is in need of what I have in my hands, and it is my responsibility that I get these this relief to them. Today is the 20th of December and it is by far the 15th day of my volunteering for relief here, everything has been hectic, never ending and quite frankly sometimes irritating because the work here never stops. Hehe!! but I guess that’s the beauty of it. Even in this hectic schedule, I found a lot of time for myself to explore the places around. I found a small beach called the E.C.R, I took some time for my time. Another thing that I understood, Life is what you make of it. There is one time when you are happy about yourself, then there is a travesty that takes place, the real essence of life in it is to face that travesty and after that, living in the moment.Don’t ask him, Why me??, tell Him Try me. The people of Chennai came together to protect one another, no one cared about what his or her caste or religion was, the only thing that they saw was a hand trying to reach out to them for help and without any further thought, they risked their lives to save someone else’s. Even tough they have lost almost everything, their houses, their assets or even their loved ones the people in Chennai stand up strong and high to welcome a new daylight of a new beginning in their lives. What keeps them going is the Hope and Trust that Life Is Beautiful and that its a new beginning. We may think that there is no humanity left. But I personally would like to reconsider that thought. Not to snatch the credit but this makes me really proud of the Country that I stay in. People may not talk to their neighbour but I know that if someone reaches out for help, he won’t go back empty handed.
Will come up with more experiences of Chennai.. To be continued..