I had planned to write this in the morning before the second episode of the unseemly spat between Narendra Modi and Shashi Tharoot broke out on Twitter.
A Cyclone is set to cross Tamil Nadu border possibly by tomorrow (Wed, 31st Oct, 2012) evening. The English Language TVCs and their fans & foes on Twitter are busy discussing the Hurricane in East Coast of U.S. I initially thought even I have two cousins there. Then I realised I had a third one. That reminded me of her brother moving in into same city. Then I realised my Uncle & Aunt are visiting my cousin who had just given birth to a child. Then I realised another….. Then I realised I just did not care.
What has been bugging me the last few days in the enormous slums that are tucked away in various corners of our city. All those who give us support service live in these slums – the silent majority. It is this silent majority who would be suffering the next few days in this cyclone. The home less or those living in slums would now be wet and jobless. To put things in perspective – Yesterday’s minimum temperature in chennai was 27.1 Deg C. Today’s maximum is 28.2 Deg C. May not look very low to people like us who are used to Air Conditioners but imagine a child who has never been in an house, wet and roofless in the rain.
The first time i realised the enormity of this was around 1986/87. A vacant plot next to my house was being converted into an apartment building. There were four floors, just a shell without the walls being constructed. That year we had a few cyclones and those living in the slums moved into this building when ever there was a cyclone. I had a revealing experience watching their misery from my first floor room.
Every time there is a cyclone, the Government does its best to accommodate the homeless or those living in low lying areas in Government Schools. The little that they own are sometime washed away by the floods. It is the Politicians from the most decent ones to the most corrupt ones who step in and do their bit for this silent majority. We sit in our cosy rooms and outrage.
Was reminded of this story in the morning. Now it seems even more relevant:
Three very learned men got into a small boat to cross a river in spate. They tried talking to the man paddling the boat. The first man asked him if he was aware of Tharka sastra. He replied in the negative and pat came the retort – You have wasted 25% of your life. The Next scholar asked him about Vaana Saastras and came to the same judgement. So did the third> But soon the paddler asked them if they knew swimming. When they replied in the negative he commented – you are about waste your entire life. We are having flash floods.