The city of Chennai was hovered with big bad dark clouds for weeks together until they saw bright day light. The infamous Chennai floods of December 2016 had brought the city to a standstill. Like many others, I was stuck too.
Day 1: It was raining hard when I left for work, but staying close-by to office had its perks. The office was rather empty that forbidden day. To my surprise we were all requested to return to our houses before the weather got worse as the forecasts were rather alarming. Happy to have let off work so soon, I returned to a powerless apartment. “Damn it! office was much better than this dingy room”I thought to myself. In this era,where one is happy at the lap of comforts like unlimited wi-fi and air conditioner. My roommate and I agitatedly got out of our apartment and found resort in a nearby cafe.
We returned by evening to be greeted by darkness again in our apartment. We ask around to be informed that the transformer has been shut down due to the rains, and that power will only be restored when the rains ceased. Cursing the rains and mosquitoes that hovered around us like warriors with swords,we put ourselves to sleep.
Day 2: My morning ritual is checking whatsapp texts and other updates on the respective apps. I’m appalled when I find out there’s no network. I try putting my phone in “airplane” mode trick and that doesn’t work either. It’s still pouring outside and then it was raining continuously for over 24 hours.Like sincere employees we freshen up and leave for work only to find that DLF IT Park’s entrance and the basements are submerged in water and there’s no way inside. And that ended our hope for charging our phones,accessing wi-fi and light.We return to our apartment with long faces. We pass time by sleeping and going to the same cafe and playing snake and ladder to distract ourselves. The question “when power would be restored?”,kept looming over us. We asked whoever we saw, but nobody knew the answer. We learnt that other parts of the city were submerged and people were been evacuated from their houses. We thanked lord for our safe and sound condition. Hoping for a better tomorrow we called it a night , listening to the sound of rain and the buzzing of the mosquitoes.
Day 3: There still isn’t any power or network and the rain continues, 48 hours and more and no name of stopping. Not been able to talk to our loved ones , had taken its toll and adding to that is the moody weather. We walk around the house like depressed souls. And lay on the bed, thinking to ourselves when things will be alright and when we can go “home”. Home, which looked like a distant dream. Rays of sunlight pass through the window , and that make us happy. That rays of sunlight gave us hope that things would be normal,soon. Two days of uninterrupted water supply has finally dried up our water tank and we had to rely on the primitive measures. My roommate, Sanjana and I filled buckets of water from the well, using a bucket and a rope. And carried the same three floors up. Huffing and puffing, taking haults in between the flights of stairs, changing positions. We managed to get sufficient water. We then had a ration system implemented on the use of water effectively. I’m sure most of you must have seen Kenny Sebstian’s “taking a shower in a bucket of water” the mallu way. Well, that’s exactly what we did. We visited our saviour cafe in the evenings , when it’s dark and since our hot cash was less, we implemented the ration system there too. We would order one soup, and tell the waiter to give us 1/2 portions each. The buzz in the apartment that night was rescue teams are in the city, and that buses are plying from Koyambedu. The nights were longer, but our hard labour of drawing and carrying buckets of water put to sleep soon.
Day 4: We wake upto the good news that, the weather would get better, power and signals will be restored. With a smile on our faces and prayers in our mind, we got to our work. In the evening around 4pm, power was restored briefly and networks were also up. We immediately called our loved ones and exchanged greetings but our happiness did not last long. The signals and the power , both went off after a while. Sanjana and I would take long walks in the evening on the lookout for a functioning ATM or if we could cross our area and maybe get a bus to Koyambedu. But the walls were always in vain. We would perch ourselves on the terrace looking at the sky for rescuers coming in their helicopters. But sadly, none of that happened. That’s the night when we decided that , regardless of what happens tomorrow we are leaving , even if that meant swimming across, we would get to Koyambedu and take a bus to Bengaluru. That night,we slept after packing our bags and made plans for waking up early and getting to Guindy and taking the metro from there to Koyambedu.
Day 5: We are up and about and by 8am.We leave our apartment. A friendly neighbor, lent us some money, with that we were going to pay for our tickets and leave the city. We get to Guindy and the metro station only to find a jam packed compartments of the train
which had no place at all. We squeezed ourselves inside and prayed to get to our stop. Since the networks were working by now, we could be in touch with our loved ones and give them updates. We get our tickets and board the bus and leave the city. The sigh ofrelief that I had when I sat in the bus’s seat and the bus started moving is inexplainable.
Four days , which seemed like four months had finally come to an end.
Now the Chennai floods did teach me some valuable lessons as well.
Lesson 1: Never rely on technology, your phone, SIM card, wi-fi and ATMs all can stop working if something happens.
Lesson 2: Save money and water.Always save for unforeseen circumstances.
Lesson 3: Humanity. Always strive to be more “human” in the human being. What pulled me through the 5 days was my roommate , who was my companion throughout, the kindness showed to us by all the helpful aunties who offered to give us rice, milk and fruits . And the uncle , who lent us money to leave the city.
Lesson 4: Never lose hope.As the famous lines by Percy B Shelley envisages,”O, wind, if winter comes,can spring be far behind?”