11.50 pm from Jamin Pallavaram …
The fan is whirring and the tube light is on at my aunt’s place… We have managed to get back in touch with our friends and family that were worried sick about us and we managed to charge all our devices. We are safe with some damage to our possessions and car – all replaceable and “buy-able” but there are so many people out there that have lost everything. :(:( As of today 245 people are reported dead and 18 critical patients died in just one hospital.
…Dec 3rd dawned with the first inkling of our personal loss. Krishnan stepped downstairs and found the car flooded. I got upset for a few minutes and we debated about how we could have avoided it. The universe seems to have nudged us towards this disaster not away from it… So there must be some learning for us and we must be repaying some karmic debt. Again, things happen only when you can deal with them. Proved yet again.
Dec 3rd also made me fall in love with Chennai because by 10 am help arrived in the form of food and water, brought in by some citizen group. We were ok so we didn’t take the food but there were nearly 30 people staying at an apartment down the lane and they had no means of supporting themselves. Many people also managed to leave on these makeshift boats and real boats that started to come in. The supply of food went on till 11 pm … Super dedicated guys. A military truck had come on Dec 2nd and managed to ferry people upto Tambaram where there was less water. Some of our neighbours left and some others couldn’t. Those who couldn’t leave on the 2nd left on the 3rd. We got mixed reports about how far the water logging was .. Some said the boats/rafts would drop people off at the Velachery MRTS station, others said, they had to walk in neck deep water till the station. No buses were plying, no autos could ply so we decided to just sit tight till the water levels receded further.
The water started to recede slowly and and by the evening of Dec 3rd, it had dropped by 1.5 feet. We again slept fitfully, as it rained a little in he night and we would wake up every couple of hours and try and see if water had receded further.
On Dec 4th, the young lady who was caught out alone was rescued by the NDRF team. Most of the NDRF team were non-Tamilians and we helped out by speaking in Hindi and I offered them tea which they refused. What a professional team it was and they were so reassuring in the way they handled things !! They are obviously well trained. Several helicopter sorties took place on Dec 4th, i.e yesterday. I found out today in the morning that our PM was on one of those helicopters …. He never waved to us, but I will forgive him. He atleast is never going to swindle the relief monies !!
In the morning around 10, the water had receded further by 1.5 feet so it was just upto my knees. Krishnan and I went out and tried to stock up on some essentials. We got back and went to the ground floor house and saw that everything had been tossed around. The fridge was lying sideways, the furniture had moved out, the beds were all pushed out and some small tables were in pieces !! It was like a storm had raged inside the house when it was just rapidly seeping in water. We retrieved some more stocks and some essential stuff before shutting the door again. Water by this time had almost seeped out of the house. We had a DMK relief party and an AIADMK relief party offering us ready-to-eat stuff. We didn’t take any food from either but took food packets from the citizen groups and it was outstanding vegetable rice. Piping hot and tasty. We had no power for the fourth day and it didn’t look likely that power would be restored anytime soon. We were wondering if we should move to my aunt’s place if some auto could take us.
Then today morning, we finally managed to get through to my aunt, Kabir managed to get through to us and it rained heavily again. We used the opportunity to fill up three bucketfuls of rainwater. Then we heard news that it was going to rain for another three days and we decided to come to my aunt’s place. We left Pallikaranai by about 1230 when it stopped raining for a bit and took an auto to reach civilization again – by 1.30 today, we had power, phones started working around 2.30 and life seemed normal.
While the rains are a natural phenomenon, the flooding is a man made disaster – the storm drains getting choked with plastic bags and the political parties both DMK and AIADMK and the smattering of some form of “Dravida Kazhagam” parties looting the “Mango” people by giving approvals to build in areas where no building should be allowed. More on that later. The AIADMK party worker who came to offer food told us to remember that it was AIADMK that had come over … My thoughts are unprintable.
Tomorrow we start to help the Pallavaram citizen groups in their relief efforts. #ILoveChennai for the Chennai folk have shown that they are above the flood waters, they opened up their homes, cooked for many others and collected clothes and essentials for those who lost it all. This too shall be a separate set of stories to do justice to the spirit of Chennai. Jai Hind.