No year has ever gone by without its share of obstacles. Except when I was 8 years old. Yeah, that was a good year. It must be the same with you, right? I hear people talk about their ups and downs. Isn’t that how things work? At least, I hope so. I will feel a little better knowing that your life, consistently, has shitty moments in it too.
I didn’t exercise my right to vote this year during the State elections. Because I don’t pee in public anymore. See, I am already doing my bit to improve the community. Next year, I hope to stop wasting water while shaving over the washbasin.
Today, I am just flexing my right to complain about the sweltering summer. It’s getting hotter in Chennai. The weather is like an alarm clock going off at full volume. Except it doesn’t have a snooze button. Hell, there are no buttons. The tune sucks too. It’s really hot. To make matters worse, we keep talking about it.
If it wasn’t for Grey-Headed Swamphens, I might have found posthumous fame as the first recorded case of spontaneous combustion. Or jail time for brandishing a homemade napalm gun.
I am pretending that summer isn’t in a fierce mood. I am ignoring the sweat dripping down my forehead. The constant buzzing of air-conditioners. The humidity in the air. But I am painfully aware that birding season is over. Many of the migratory birds are gone. The endemic ones are vacating regular nesting grounds in search of water. Last summer, I felt really bad about it. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to wait until November for the next season.
This year, things are looking up. I know this because a birdie told me so. And not just any birdie. But one with tail-feathers so curvy that it can be mistaken for a dance recital that came to life.
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.
As I was stranded for over 5 hours in traffic due to the flooding in Chennai, two things occurred to me. One is that I cannot wiggle either of my ears. The other is that Chennai is as much a developed city as the whale is a fish. Even if it looks, sounds and smells like a metropolitan, it will never be one considering how uneven its infrastructural development is.
There are no sustainable benefits in striving to be global when progress has been historically stalled at the grassroots level. It is clear that my city isn’t ready for such rapid expansion. It now buckles under the smoldering weight of its cumulative greed. In the event of such disastrous events, because of this, each of us suffer a lot more. Irrespective of our income levels, at some point – we all feel helpless.
I hope the people of France are safe. I wish them a speedy recovery. But today I support my state of Tamil Nadu. She has been ravaged by heavy storms. People have been losing their homes and livelihoods, and others – their lives.
For the past 12 hours, there have been nonstop thunderstorms in Chennai. My city has turned into a helpless, soaking-wet mongrel. Her roads have turned into death-traps and her buildings – into dirty sponges. Trees have been falling by the wayside. Electricity is a problem as is public transportation. The rumour mill has been working overtime, spreading paranoia.
Utopia is where
odd fellows rest,
with blank stares
and babysit blue orchids,
bearing stars for seeds,
that come in pairs.
I have lost interest in keeping count of the number of birds I have spotted. I let it go around the 300-mark. But I still obsess over spotting new birds during every trail. If I don’t, it’s not as though my heart loses purpose. It just sports a stubble and drunkenly fumbles.