Sitting here, continents apart, it was surreal to watch the events in Chennai unfold last week. Intellectually, I knew the monsoon was happening in Chennai, yet a part of me was surprised every time I stepped out of the house here in the US – what happened to all the rain I read about? why am I not carrying an umbrella? Why are people around me not talking about what’s going on in Chennai? People are in distress, the city is drowning, how can we go about carrying on with our lives? Suffice to say that I was living more in the virtual world than the real one.
We were getting scraps of information about my family. We knew they were safe but we didn’t know if they had basic amenities. Were they able to manage with all the dependents in the household? Even as I was preoccupied with the well being of my family, it was inspiring to see citizenry in action. My friends, my cousin, they were all out there, providing what relief they could. I was beaming with pride as I saw Chennaites embrace the principle of Nammake Naamme. In so many ways, the calamity strengthened the spirit and character of the city.
After a week of not being able to get in touch with them, I was relieved to speak to my family last night and this morning. They said their neighborhood wasn’t as badly affected as some of the others and that they were able to manage with what they had. I am immensely thankful for the little mercies that touched them this past week and saved them from further hardships.
As the city is reeling back to life, I send my prayers for my family and the city so they can overcome the tides of the aftermath – the water contamination, the mosquitoes, the corruption, the scarcity and other unexpected challenges. Take care Chennai.