The rains in Chennai have been devastating. The stories and news of one disaster after another including, among other things, the exorbitant price of milk, lack of drinking water, the litany is long and for the moment looks like it has no end.
However, as often happens at times like this there is good news too. The news of people helping people. In spite of everything, here’s a story that was shared on my email that was truly heartwarming.
Here is the email, reproduced from the original,
From Biju Verghese The Spirit Of Chennai
While the entire nation is debating on the “Non-sense” called “Intolerance”, there is humanity at its best in Chennai. I can tell this for sure because, I stay in Qatar and my family (wife and 2 kids aged 11 and 7) are in Chennai. With all the floods and problems, I am getting the message from them, “We are safe”.
In the wake of calamity, Chennai is “One”. It has only one religion, “Humanity”; It has only one enemy, “Water”; there is only one aim “Help”. And they did it in style. When they were offering help, they didn’t ask whether you are “Hindu” or a “Christian” Or a “Muslim”. They didn’t ask whether you are “Rich” or “Poor”. They didn’t ask whether you are a “Tamlian”, “Malayalee”, “Telugu”, “Kannadiga” or “North Indian”. Only one question they asked; “Do you need any help?”
The rich people; my neighbors who never interacted with anybody in the neighborhood in last 4 years; opened the gates of their huge house. The man stood outside and welcomed people to his house. “We will eat whatever we have. We will share whatever we have. You can stay here until the water recedes”; that all he had said.. He accommodated around 35 people in his house. He is a Hindu Brahmin. He provided mat for the Muslims to do Namaz. He allowed Christians to pray in his Pooja room.
There were volunteers outside helping people to reach safe places. They used anything and everything as tool; until the army people reached. Once the experts came, they gave the leadership to the more experienced and helped them to help others.
My wife told me that, there were group of people going through the streets with neck deep water and asking “Sir / Madam, do you need any help?” In front of every house. They provided whatever help they can and they distributed food and essentials. There were groups providing cellphone batteries for 5 minutes to anybody who want to talk.
I have seen people fight for food when there is a calamity. Even the most modern countries, when there is a calamity, people fight for food. They think only about themselves at that time. But, when the food was distributed in Chennai, it was calm. People stood in queues and they have given food for the people who are not able to stand in queues (elderly, mothers and kids). They brought boats. They made temporary rafts and just went on helping people. On top of all these things, this is what my kids are seeing. This is what they are learning. How to help each other at the time of need. It goes straight into their brain. The images gets implanted there. And then, when there is another calamity, they know what to do.. How to survive. How to get help and how to help others… This is what I want my kids to learn.. Humanity, without boundaries….There is no wonder that, Chennai is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has survived everything thrown at it.. It will definitely remain so for ever. They are united. They can beat anything.. They can survive anything… I am a proud Chennaite… I will never forget this in my life! A city which gave me and my family safety in the hour of need.. Thank you Chennai!.. Thank you Indian Army! Thanks you India!!!
I remember more than 40 years ago there was a flood in Mumbai (worse than usual) and we saw the same thing: people in neck deep water helping others with inflatable tire inserts if one couldn’t swim.I was there and this happened to me, this is no third person account! I could swim but the water was filthy like you wouldn’t believe.
It is true, when a major calamity hits I think most people rise to their highest level of humanity. And that is comforting to see and know. My son was in New York during 9/11 and the support and fellowship shown by so-called hardened New Yorkers blew him away. We saw the same in Japan a few years ago. It really is wonderful to be able to post a ‘feel good’ story right now.
God bless everyone in need. And may God help us all.