Muddy waters run deep in Chennai: Give us a hand

Now that Chennai’s immediate dangers are temporarily at bay, the public has begun expressing extreme displeasure over the city’s poor infrastructural standards. They are baffled at how our buildings crumbled like a stack of cookies in the recent floods. They are outraged that rabid urbanization was prioritized over safety regulations. Shocked that real estate greed, along with political corruption, has led to environmental imbalance. I wish I could hug them and tell them that roses are red, violets are blue and if it takes a natural disaster to realize how much damage we cause on a daily basis – well, fuck them. You and me too.

Each one of us have to take the blame. It isn’t a matter of existential guilt. There’s blood on our hands. My palms look more wrinkled today. My stomach – a lot fatter. My eyes hurt. I feel more human than ever before, ashamed that I am not just a silent observer but an active contributor to the decay of our ecosystem. It isn’t as though I have been blissfully unaware of it. It just never struck me as being important enough until it personally affected me.

Having said that, I refuse to get into water-cooler conversations about our negative impact on the environment. The only thing less obvious about urban existence is the frothing in our mouths during Black Friday.

Most of us don’t ride bicycles to work. We think and talk green, we just don’t live it. How often do we help plant a tree without some company’s logo in the vicinity? No, please. I don’t want to talk to you about going green or being environmentally-friendly. I will not chastise you for using plastic. I am not that person. Go ahead and keep ruining the planet. Exit left from here for a discussion on climate change.

Baya Weaver Nesting Tree

I am jaded enough to believe that it is too late to implement drastic changes at the grassroots level. We should learn to live with the amount of harmony, safety and comfort that can afforded without compromising on anyone else’s quota. Natural disasters will continue to strike. We just need to be more prepared for it. No matter what – damage will done. We just need helping hands to pick each other up.

For instance, you can help the dearly affected of the recent flood crisis in Tamil Nadu to reclaim their lives.

Chennai floods (PTI)

(credit: PTI)

The broken roads, the crumbling bridges, the public properties will take care of themselves over time. The worst-hit districts in the state and the city of Chennai have received aid from various corners of India. Politicians and celebrities and have lent their photo-shopped faces and wallets; only a handful – a lot more than that. As I had mentioned in the earlier post, the good people of Chennai are still doing wonderful things for each other.

We still need your love though to back up our efforts on the ground. It doesn’t have to be in the form of financial assistance. It really doesn’t. Give us your best wishes. Hell, you can even call them “prayers” if you want to. Be assured that we need every ounce of positive energy you can muster up. And I thank you in advance for it.

However, if your life has afforded you the liberties to donate money for relief measures, I would like to encourage you to do so for those affected by the recent devastation in Tamil Nadu.

(credit: Blue Cross Facebook page)

The links posted below have been verified, so fear not of having your hard-earned money nefariously passed around. I am not affiliated to any organisations / websites below either so feel free to pick any of them. If you are going to ask me , I would probably suggest the Blue Cross of India – a not-for-profit animal welfare charity.

I sometimes volunteer for them. I take my niece there once in a while to help wash the puppies before the weekend adoption drive. And I know some wonderful people who run the daily rescue operations. They have been having a tumultuous time during these storms, given the number of species of animals and birds they take care of – not just feral / abandoned cats and dogs.

For blog readers in India, donations can be sent to:

Account name: Blue Cross of India
Account no: 419318361
Account type : Savings
Bank name: Indian Bank
Branch: Guindy
Bank Address: PB no 3171, Sidco building, G.S.T road, Guindy, Chennai 600032

For those in other countriesplease visit

http://www.chalusa.org (mention in the remarks as “Donation for Blue Cross of India”)

You may write to sathya@bluecrossofindia.org if you have any further queries

If you would rather help out human beings, check out this list. Or pick some other donation option you may find on social media and contribute. Just make sure you can differentiate branding from actual charity.

Thank you.

Like bewildered nethilis,
we press our snouts
against a broken fish tank, with
our gills – gasping for the sun.

Baya Weaver, Ponneri

*nethilli – anchovy

(Photographs: Chennai / Vedanthangal / Pulicat)

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25 comments

  1. The grass roots co ordination to help the affected people in chennai gives hope that the city still has great character. If only we could somehow channel them into political institutions (not sure how).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me neither Madhu, I can’t imagine how it would politically transit given the very nature of politics. Like songwriter Beck once sang “in the time of the chimpanzees, there was a monkey”. Let’s hope for the best, comrade.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Muddy waters indeed! I have had multinationals approach me to promote charities on similar one for one campaigns. I ended up posting a widget and banners on my blog that link directly to a charity bypassing the brand.

    I meant to post donation links on my blog as well but needed time to filter out the worthiest. Blue Cross is a no brainer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sigh!

    There’s an albeit small amount of money to be made by submitting such immaculately written stuff for publication.
    I prefer not to insult our distinguished and so beautiful and handsome Equine fellow being on the planet but an old saw has it that “You can drag a h… ”

    Ah well

    Like

    1. Sorry Anna! And to the Equine fellow too for having been dragged in to beat some sense into this “bird-brain”. I wanted to reach out to my blog readers and seek their help, Anna, if that offers some justification!

      Like

  4. I think about everyone I know in Chennai every day. such a disaster. and the lack of any preparedness or disaster plan is mind-boggling! a city built on a floodplain — gee, what could go wrong with that? I will be AMAZED if Chennaiites don’t call for Jaya’s head on a platter when this is over!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah Linda, in fact most Indian metropolitans are unprepared for it, earthquake, flood or wild fire. Regarding the politics of it, call for her head and then what, dear comrade? Put the other family in charge? We are stuck between choosing the lesser of the two evils, without a clear understanding of the proportions of evil at stake.

      I see no immediate solution, only a need for urgent action, which may hopefully lead to sustainable change in the future.

      Thank you for thinking about us!

      Like

  5. Politics sucks. I like the idea of a local community sticking together to help each other out, instead of waiting on the bureaucracy to wave their magic wands or cut their red tape. Togetherness is what held us together after Hurricane Ike in 2008. Some of our neighbors had never met each other before that storm! With no power for several days straight — some of us, abandoning our very homes — we leaned on each other more than ever.

    Now? Seven years later and all nice and back to normal? We ignore each other daily, with impunity. Psh. Such a short memory. I guess we’ll see how it goes when we get hit with the next major disaster (we narrowly escaped one already this year).

    My best to you and your (Madrassi?) brethren. Be proud of your heritage and help each other…always. It will get better, and I hope…I really do hope…that the restructure is more sustainable and safe for future dwellers. I’ll bet you’ll be glad when it’s all over. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Shannon ❤

      I am quite torn apart in the way I am emotionally processing this. On one hand, I am touched beyond imagination that people in my city stuck to each other like kindred glue during such dire circumstances. On the other, there is just so much anger. We didn’t want to rely on Twitter to protect our families. We didn’t want strange comforts. We are so incredibly moved and grateful that we got it, but we (I am) are still frothing in our mouths that we were put in that position. The blame is on a lot of people, starting with each other.

      And for no reason other than I am a child of pop culture, I watched Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke, and felt disturbed about the last 5 minutes. It’s on YouTube, do give it a watch. I shall reserve my other comments on it when we next discuss Mr Antony Cumia (smile).

      Like

  6. On a very banal note…going around Chennai tells me just how much plastic we are throwing away…and borrowing your words, my hands are stained too.
    Is there anything we as citizens can do to clean up the garbage (apart from the other aids you mention) without relying on a less than efficient government?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It isn’t banal at all, LG. Certainly, not to me. I just throw a hissy fit after having read something about the Human Rights Day. It got me thinking about World Environment Day, Water Day, et all and how so may select a particular day to care about a critical issue and spend the rest of the year forgetting about it.

      I am glad you feel that way, and given how jaded I am about positive messages have a major social impact – my advice would be to find out new ways to dispose garbage, manage plastic and use water to the extent we need for your house, and tell your friends, neighbours and digital acquaintances (maybe IIT campus too?).

      I am quite uninformed about being green. I am sure I am just as horrid as the rest regarding how much I pollute the environment.

      Tis an opportunity for each of us to perhaps share information!

      Like

      1. We do have garbage segregation at IIT and people adhere to it to a large extent. So, our campus is relatively plastic free, except for outsiders who visit and throw plastic into the woods, which gets me livid.
        It is the outside I am concerned about. While attitude changes will take time, I wonder if there is something we can do to clean the city now. I make it a point to pick up plastic strewn around, but the floods have created mountains of them that cannot be picked by a single hand.
        I don’t think our corporation will do a piddly ass thing about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah I remember the heaps of garbage during Saarang festivals. I am pretty sure I would have been guilty at that too. Great to hear though about your campus being lean and green.

        On the outside, measures need to be taken but again – the cynic in me refuses to acknowledge the sustenance of goodness in our species. With every trip to Pallikaranai, I believe in us a little lesser.

        I hope you keep thinking about what it would take to change attitudes around here, we certainly need people who can help do that.

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      3. As for IIT and Sarang, it is up to you youngsters to do something. Our voices are never heard because we are the “always disgruntled oldies”. Perhaps next sarang (which is around the corner), you can rally around your friends and go around bonking people who are littering our campus on their head? I will provide refreshments to you people (in stainless steel tumblers, if I may add).

        I feel that the solution lies only with youngsters. When I was growing up, there was an organization called Exnora, which did a good job of helping people keep the city clean. I wonder what happened to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yikes comrade, I am no youngster. I am one of the disgruntled oldies too. My last visit to Saraang was about 11 years ago, when I was in college (pretty sure there was a band called “The Killer Tomatoes” headlining the main stage that year).

        I agree with you that the onus is on the youngsters. As frightening as it sounds, it is true. Hope is a throwaway word, but it is the only thing afloat in these murky waters.

        Bonking litterers with utensils sounds lovely, it really does. Can we also shame them in some way? Even if it doesn’t resonate, it would make for a fun-sized conversation later.

        Like

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