Blessed

I am in Chennai and I am safe!! I say am blessed and so are we at home here. The area around our home was flooded but not our street alone!
My Experience:
December  1: By chance, I drove to work instead of taking the shuttle. Two of my friends came with me. The downpour had already started. A few of the places on the way were water logged. I had to take a particular road to get on to the highway, wherein I felt like I was steering a ship. Worried about the water around. Little did we know this was nothing! Reached office safe. After a few hours, many leads asked people to leave if they could. I ask mine & his response classic! (Did you ask the onsite manager you interact with? –  who happens to be in Chicago!). We manage to leave and two other girls ask to be dropped off on the way. Two of the girls worked out of another building. They were prevented from going out and had to sign release letters saying they were leaving on their own risk! We finally started. I was worried about getting the girls home safely! As I got out of our office, the water was flowing on the road like a river with huge rocks being carried. They were hitting the bottom of the car. After slow driving, we did reach the highway. I did manage to drop the girls off safely. Had I reached even five minutes later, I would not have been able to take the road home as I pass through a low bridge over a rivulet that flooded that early on and was closed! Blessing!! Miracle!! By then, there was no power at home. The UPS was on. My neighbour asked my father to get some ration from the nearby grocers before they close up. We did along with some basic veggies. [The grocer sold almost a month’s sale on that one day! Veggies were being sold at a premium as expected] By the time dinner was prepared, the UPS ran out and we plunged into darkness. The mobiles lost network.
December 2: Rain poured. No clue what was happening in the world outside. It kept pouring! We managed through the day rationing use of water wondering when the rains would stop and when the power will be back on.
Following days:  News started trickling in about flooding in various areas. I was worried about what I would do once water levels rise and if it entered our home. How do I manage my mum who is bedridden? What about my old father and A? I had an emergency bag with basic documents packed and ready. Was planning on how I will either take my mum upstairs or how I can get a boat if it comes to that…

Still no power, landline also got severed. So totally cut off now. Our street was still dry. We went back to stone age. Thanked the building contractor who insisted we have a well in the house. We drew water from it with a pulley. The water was soft & clear. So, we could boil and use it for drinking! Our neighbours also used the well thanking us! No mixer grinder, meaning we used the roller stone for grinding. Yeah the taste was better! :). Sweeping and mopping – no vacuum cleaner. Candle light & oil lamps lit our homes. We woke up early to get things done, went to bed early without needing to catch a program on TV or that last minute social media update. Dug out the old transistor radio and found that there were helplines being set up. The way people were being rescued. Neighbours told us about how badly nearby areas were affected. Milk being sold at exorbitant prices (Blessing again that our neighbour was a milkman and was still supplying the fresh cows milk as usual). We finally got to see and interact with each other on the street. Honestly, felt good to be away from technology (yeah people around were worried…still…back to old age was good)
Rains stopped for a while. I was standing out with my father & A talking to some people! I find a schoolmate riding on his scooter. He came all the way to check if we were alright at home as we could not be reached! Another friend came the next day when it was raining!!! Here I was thinking if I disappeared, no one would bat an eyelid! Hit me as to how grossly wrong I was!!!
Saturday early morning: power was restored.  Only my mobile came back to life (patchy though). Managed to send word that we are safe! Astounded by the number of people who were trying to find out if we were fine especially being in a badly affected area. Blessed is an understatement!!

December 6, Sunday: A turned 11. Low key! All his friends had left Chennai as their homes have been affected badly. One of his best friends sends a birthday message and calls in saying he is in Bangalore. A is thrilled to see the messages. It took a while for me to respond to all the queries of if I am alive! 🙂 . Realisation of how much we depend on the phones was sinking in (also how we did manage without them too!).

Slowly realised life was back to normal. By Tuesday Dec 8th, I was on my way to work on the office shuttle. Relief work still going on high steam in horribly affected areas.

Life goes on…. (another realisation. Not just for me who was hardly hit but even those who lost their homes.)

The autowala I use in the morning said he lived on the second floor but his auto was submerged and there was about two feet water above his auto. It took him almost a week to get the auto started and repaired to make it ready to get his livelihood. My maid said the water had reached the roof of her home & they were evacuated to a relief camp in a school. Simple things…she said she was given a saree, no blouse/ in skirt. She asks how do I wear the saree? A’s school is badly damaged – the library, the offices, the dining spaces, accounts department – pretty much everything on the ground floor all under water. My friend’s homes have been affected. This flooding has spared very few! Regardless of how rich or poor…

It saw people just pouring in to help. Mood was not why? but what can I do? even if it is in a small way – what do I do? Those who themselves were affected jumped in to make sure the city is back on it’s feet. No fanfare, no hey am busy doing so much…. Those who could be on the ground were there, those who were away coordinated with the givers, those in need and those who went to supply. It seemed to work as a well oiled machine. In most places now, it looks like life is back to normal. Relief work has moved to rehabilitation – people talking about how we can help for longer (& self) sustenance. That said I was just amazed at how from my friends to the autowala first inquired about how I was, how things were at home.

Yes, all this was not without hitches. There were instances of how goods provided were being sold in the black market. Instances of relief being done only for the show & name ( well we take them in cos they still do something! 🙂 ). Politicians failing (no surprises there).

Lessons learnt. Though we as a city have risen, with loads of help from outside, it is clear that we lack disaster management (keeping apart whether it was natural or man-made). All are worried about how we are going to manage epidemics, the garbage being collected with all homes being cleaned out. What next? What do we do? How can we help – really help? Relief work happened haphazardly. The army came in with no clue where to go. Volunteers poured in and reports of the same area being helped came in. People donating stuff without much thought into where and how it is going. All good yet lacking thought. Instant gratification is what we all are looking at. Finding people not wanting to wait and see what more needs to be done, some not even realising that we should move on from relief, find out what the government is going to do further (if they are as they are supposed to) so we can pitch in where it is not or help where it is needed.

This calamity has brought people together and hoping that it stays that way. People were being patient on the roads, without the incessant honking. Though, now as a sign of normalcy, they are back on.

Irked by those who want us to keep wallowing in the disaster. We are moving on and getting to semblance of normalcy while doing what we can to help those in need (without selfies, photos splashed on social media and any other fan fare…..). This comes along with us wanting to get into the festive mood of Christmas which comes along with giving that we are doing. So shoot us those of us who now appreciate more of what we have and could have while you supposedly play the messiah!! [Of course I am going to rant about the few who have managed to push me off the edge while appreciating the scores of people quietly being awesome. One bad apple!!] –Rant!! Sorry!

I told my grandma that now I believe in miracles. I believe I must live my life to the fullest while I can. Don’t know how long this will last before I am pushed into depression by something/someone!

I am thankful I am there for A [ this is a totally different reason not related the flooding, may be will write a post & may be not!]. I will strive to make him feel as happy as I can.

PS: Didn’t realise I was going to write such a long post and I still have another in mind!!
PPS: This is entirely my experience. It is not harrowing just felt like the rains would never stop. The shockers were meeting and hearing stories of how they were affected. Proud of how they just are looking ahead and don’t know if they are spiritual when they say, those are just stuff – we are alive!

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Hindu

I have written many a post talking of whether I believe in God or not. About whether there is any reason behind many of the customs we follow (or at least read and commented on many posts on my blog hopping!!)  I have also read a lot of posts on all this -why must I follow these customs in the name of tradition/religion? What is the meaning behind the way something is being done. Way too many questions.

My mum is not some one who used to say “This is the way it is done so do it.” She was one who used to explain when she knew or she would find the answer. We have had many discussions on lots of such topics. One book that P made me read and said that my mum would like (ok! bring those eye brows down….we have been married close to 8.5 years of which we have been together for 6.5 years of those – so we did have some good talks too!! 🙂 ) was Am I a Hindu? by Ed Vishwanathan. Not a bad read.

Now, my mum is hooked on to something on TV. Initially I did not bother to find out what it was though I know she is not the kind to watch soaps. Slowly I ended up watching the show with her. Obviously the show has something to do with my long winded introduction. I find the show pretty good. It is in tamil by Cho Ramasawamy. Features on Jaya TV  at 8 pm IST. Name of the program ” Engey Brahmanan” (Where is the Brahmin?) 

I find the series very informative. Down to earth. Cho explains various concepts in Hinduism, being a Brahmin and lots more using a story as a baseline. Quotes from various scriptures, explanations in lay person’s terms. So suffice to say I am hooked on too. Feels good to watch something with my mum, followed by discussions (sometimes heated arguments even 😉 )

If any of you is interested, do catch it. I know that Laksh  & Ms CP might be interested…. Catch it 🙂

proof!

I have always maintained that either God does not exist or is deaf.

Now I have proof that God is deaf!!

Sunday (that is tomorrow) is one of the holy days in the Hindu calendar. Especially for devotees of Lord Muruga (or Kumar in the north) here in Tamil Nadu. It is Thai Poosam.

So, what are the devotees doing? They have put up speakers like the one above (pic taken right outside my home). They blare music (supposedly devotional). They have set up a network all over the neighbourhood surrounding the temple nearby. This noise pollution started yesterday and will end tomorrow.

We complained saying we don’t approve of it when they came to collect donations for these “celebrations” The response – “It is only for a day!!”  Dad said well, it would not even take a day for us to go deaf with the speaker right in front of our home. Don’t even want to think of the plight of those living right behind that monstrosity! Though it does feel like we are the only ones complaining. Are we the over-sensitive ones in the neighbourhood?

Anyways, I have concluded God is deaf and people are stupid! If God were deaf, one should use sign language. Peace and quiet – more effective right?!May be everyone here thinks that only such a disruption would turn God’s attention here?!

Whatever it is – the answer to the existence of God, hearing capacities, stupidity of people around – result is that our sanity is being tested, hearing is going for a toss. Waiting for this to end! Well, there will be some quiet till the next event. Dreading election time!!!

Rant over!

First time in years!

This is the first time in my 30 odd years (yeah am gonna be 32 this year 🙂 ) that I did not do the “nombu” for “garuda panchami” – a telugu equivalent of say Raksha bandan. I did feel a tinge of guilt but not as much as I thought I would. Having been brought up with the thought that being the only sister that my brother and cousins have, it was something I liked to do. Thought it was significant to pray for their well being. Do the puja the right way (of course eat all the food that goes with it…this time none of the food either cos we get food from a caterer!)

My mother did the puja. I did not even get up from bed! My steps towards atheism?! or is it because I feel that these pujas actually have no significance? Am I writing this out of the tinge of guilt I wrote about or just as a log of what happened? I am rambling here! Even when I was in the US, I did every puja…so much so some people actually said I was a pukka maami or way too traditional and the likes.

A step towards change in life? for better or worse? Again I don’t know! I wish I could just let go of so many other things (or people/memories!) Sorry…rambling again!

Enlightenment?

Been reading the Spiritual Research Foundation. It hit me that we are going to leave our physical body here on earth (duh! right? :)) So, should we not take better care of our souls than we do our body?? It would help by not hurting others by our words or actions. Be courteous, understanding.Be a good friend.
As a friend of mine said, in the end; people don’t see how much you have earned/studied…it is how many people remember you for the good person that you were.
So, I resolve to try be a nice person….have been trying to reduce my short temper for ages now…but have a long way to go. Of course, a great body to go with the good soul would help too 😉 what say? Guess I do have a looooong way to go.
Well, I just hope that I don’t fall sick and trouble others in any way in the end!

Spirituality

When one undergoes stress and has nothing to do but wait for what one wants, spirituality seems to be the inevitable answer.We go check our horoscopes out for some sort of solution. Repeatedly, we had been told that our ancestors were unhappy that we are undergoing all what we are!! We had to do certain rituals and stuff…my question was how can our ancestors do us harm? Don’t they want us to be happy?
Vasu directed me to this site on Spirituality Reasearch Foundation
Very informative.Explains a lot of things…Made me understand things on a different level. Have not really started chanting…but at least I have put a step forward in understanding! 🙂 Hope that is a start to better things 😀