Wrath of the Raijin

Wrath of the Raijin. Sounds cool, eh? It won’t be, if you read through- rather, live through the experience.

Yes, for those who can understand, I am talking about the Chennai floods of December 2015.

No one could have imagined a water-scarce state like Tamil Nadu getting so much rain, that the capital drowns. And I am not kidding. Buildings drowned as if they were Titanic getting hit by an Iceberg. It was plainly horrible to watch the situation here.

I have been through many disasters- no, not psychological stuff which you might be imagining right now- but natural disasters which wreaked havoc on people. I have witnessed flood, 2 times in Gujarat (2006 & 2007), again in 2009(Andhra Pradesh), and 2015 (Chennai). I have seen an Earthquake smashing down a building (2000 Gujarat), and I guess I only remain to see a blizzard and a Volcanic eruption.

Coming back, the floods of Chennai weren’t exactly natural. There was the Hand of Human behind it. Traditionally, Chennai has had many lakes around it- and all of these lakes were converted to land for construction of buildings, malls, etc. The existing lakes were never made deeper in Summer, neither is the garbage disposal efficient. Fault lies on both public and the governments(s), but its not the time for blame-game. So what exactly happened?

Excessive rains started to fill the lakes of Chennai, and the administration let the water loose once the threshold was crossed. One or two lakes just broke, causing highways and flyovers to be washed along with the water. This caused water to enter the low-lying areas, drowning buildings till the 3rd floor in some places!

So how was it for me? It was exam time – yeah, IIT doesn’t give a shit about whether the world apocalypse is taking place or not- but, our Hostel drowned. Yeah, drowned till the 1st floor. Mandakini hostel has been well known in the institute to be the most low-lying area, and predictably, it got drowned due to the rains. Students were to shift from Mandak to Bhadra, a tower hostel till the bloody exams got over. I mean, seriously? Exams? When your laptop might have almost drowned? Lol.

Thankfully, after our exams, I came back home (Chennai! Lol), to find no electricity, no water to drink, but ample on road. Following water pumping and shit, we had a power cut for nearly 7 days. No food for people in our neighbourhood, and all we had at home was Upma, Maggie, Chai and Papad. That’s all for a week.Huge-ass telecom idiots failed to provide communication when it was most needed, except BSNL, the government organization, and I will not even get started on the advantage taken by people to claim they had “predicted” floods beforehand.

Slowly, as it happens in India, things started getting restored. Things started to come back to normal in a week or 2, and almost no one had any enthusiasm for the upcoming New year or any party- even our technical festival got postponed as a silence to those who were lost to the floods.

Things were pretty bad at IIT Madras. Inter-IIT tech meet, which was to be held here, got cancelled, Shaastra postponed, and placements done on candle light.

This fury by nature was to show us (Humans, and people of Chennai):

  • We have destroyed lakes, converted them into houses, malls, etc. It’s high time we stop doing that, and look into alternatives.
  • System is inefficient. This cannot be eradicated, but the people will need to make sure the system works, and contribute to it.
  • No matter what everyone says, Indian Media does not care what happens in South India. The apathy exhibited by the media initially, and after a round of booing, giving a pathetic coverage, shows the media is interested in TRPs, not on news.
  • Chennai youth may be called good-for-nothing, but this generation of people were the most helpful, and without their initiative, the damage would have been much more.
  • All are equal before nature. We had not electricity for 7 days, and neither did the actor Kamal Haasan. Millionaires were rescued from their drowning houses by the same boats which rescued people in dire poverty.
  • In the end, its people;  societal divide is just a sham: I know people, who were devout Hindus, housing Muslims, and know Muslim youth, trying to rescue Hindus trapped in a temple. Now what would this be called? People need people, and any people empathize with others when every one is in the same situation.

All in all, a lot of damage had been done- from Industrialists to small scale workers, from students (10th and 12th Boards!) to kids who got affected psychologically. But this actually strengthened the people of Chennai, and I hope it would serve as a reminder for people, on what would happen if one tampers nature.

I have been meaning to write this for a long time, as I would like to document all these floods and stuff that have happened, and the kind of handling present in different places. The way social media was used for handling the relief efforts is to be greatly appreciated, though I would say the weakness in our technology was shown in this disaster. I will go ahead, and narrate the Gujarat floods next, and the Andhra Pradesh floods (if you call it as flood, i.e!) later. Keep watching here for the next post! 🙂



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