The Skeptic Tower   Leave a comment

Temple Tower Haiku edited

From The Land Of Temples!

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Brewing A Revolt   Leave a comment

Haiku Tea

Tea Pruning is a widespread horticultural practice followed in Tea Gardens. It involves the selective removal of branches, roots or buds of the Tea Plant. It controls and directs the growth of the Tea Plant.

Karl Schmidt Memorial   2 comments

The Karl Schmidt Memorial is an architectural landmark commemorating a European sailor who drowned in 1930 trying to save the life of a girl. It is located at Elliot's Beach in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

The Karl Schmidt Memorial is an architectural landmark commemorating a European sailor who drowned in 1930 trying to save the life of a girl. It is located at Elliot’s Beach in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

The Doughty Warriors!   Leave a comment

new legendG_20170120_163856-01_edited_edited

To The Lion-hearts Of Wagamon: Its Pine Forest!

 

I Am Madras!   4 comments

 

This Short Video by “Fully” Beautifully Captures The Emotion That Is “Madras”! 

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Madras Day is a festival organized to commemorate the founding of the city of Madras (now Chennai) in Tamil Nadu, India. It is celebrated on 22 August every year, 22 August 1639 being the widely agreed date for the purchase of the village of Madraspatnam or Chennapatnam by East India Company factors Andrew Cogan and Francis Day from Damarla Venkatadri Nayaka, the viceroy of the Vijayanagar Empire. 

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Information Courtesy: Wikipedia.

“Fear, Loathing, Hindsight & Hope In A Flooded Kerala!”   98 comments

 

 

 When It Rains, It Pours! Kerala During The Monsoon in 2018. The post is a humble attempt to capture the whole episode of the unprecedented floods which lashed Kerala recently. It was put together hastily but has attempted sincerely to portray what I went through personally and what the people and state experienced! (Image Courtsey: manoramaonline).

 

#1. A STRAW IN THE WIND.

My childhood in Kuttanad, Kerala had many quixotic adventures. I vividly remember one of those exploits because I can still smell it! It always happened during one of those balmy afternoons. As a kid I could precisely spot the moment since it involved a dramatic switch in the settings. All of a sudden the sky, which was azure, turns dark, winds blow faster and after a thunder or two the first rains arrived. This sudden drizzle created a hullabaloo in my home. Women of the house ran out to pick the dry clothes from the clothesline to avoid negotiating damp clothes inside the hall. Men ran out for a different reason. They would cover the firewood with tarpaulin or to guide the cows to the shed. This pandemonium, all of a sudden, ensured that we were out of their thoughts for a while.

 

#2. THE MANGO SHOWERS!

For us, this was our moment in the sun. The moment the wind blows, we would run with all our might to the backyard. We knew that the naughty winds would’ve done its job for us. Because the winds always had a score to settle with the mango trees. It would leave the latter shaken and stirred. The mangoes, by now ripe and ready for the plucking would’ve inevitably kiss the ground. And by the time the noisy bunch of Don Quixotes’ came running through the mud the winds would’ve done the job. We could skip to picking up, quarreling and eating the mangoes rather than aiming for it. As we scurried to the backyard, all along, we could smell an eclectic mix of scents wafting across the premise. The winds carried the fragrance of the rain, the sand, and the mangoes and it was a heady mix! We would pick up the mangoes scattered all around, sit under a tree and before eating them all sniffed the mangoes incessantly. We felt like accomplished men and women even-though we were kids! Later, I went on to learn that this phenomenon is called as the “Mango Showers”.

 

#3. THE MONSOON!

The Mango Showers, also called as the Pre Monsoon Showers, is the harbinger of India’s future. Because a good fiscal year for India hinges on a good rainy season. And for rains to fall we need Clouds. Clouds and Kerala have a long standing affair which dates back to the time when the Indian subcontinent came into being. Every year, the sorcerer called Sun heats up the Tibetan plateau which garners the attention of the winds blowing across Australia. The bewitched winds, under a spell, voyages across the Indian Ocean and reaches the Malabar coast after snubbing Africa. The mighty Western Ghats throws a challenge preventing the winds’ rite of passage! Then begins the ascent and somewhere along while climbing, the winds would’ve transmogrified into clouds!! When these clouds rain down, we call it “The Monsoon Showers!” This phenomenon is as old as the hills! The Farmers expect it, the Poets know it, the Weathermen sense it, the Children love it, the flora and fauna feel it and We dismiss it! Little did we know that we were in for a surprise this year: 2018! Not even in my wildest dreams did I fantasize that We would sit up and take notice of the Rains!

 

#4. WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE,

Far from the ones in Kalidasa’s epic Meghaduta, the clouds which reached Kerala lately were ominous to the core. These Shape shifting Globetrotters had another plan in store for us. Sensing that we inhabited a tiny strip of land between the mountains and the deep sea, the clouds summoned its partners in crime! The thugs drew the first blood by giving the Sun a hiding! Then everything went like clockwork! Lightnings brightened up the land so that thunders could come down roaring! When you thought they were done, the clouds exploded unleashing the torrents! Along came the howling winds and soon the God’s own country turned demonic! The landscape looked as if it was possessed by a mean witch on whose command the hills glided down the slope like a river on fire. The rivers flowed beating their breasts, the trees shivered like dry leaves, boulders turned smithereens as if on command and the earth shattered akin to wreathing in pain! Buses Turned Turtle, Trains came to a grinding halt, Airports, especially the International ones, were defaced and the Boats were swallowed by whirlpools. Instead of  celebrating our State Festival,Onam, and sing songs in praise of the visiting mythical king of the underworld Mahabali, we sang a new song – “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner”.

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

 

#5. AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Yes! we don’t drink water but we produce electricity with it instead: Hydro Electricity we call it! Because until that point all the waters were getting collected and stored in the dams. A tiny state with more than 35 dams thought for a moment that it had systemic plans in place to control floods. The strategy was simple but not systemic: Dam the rivers and the store the rains in the reservoirs. Very smooth! Nobody wore their thinking caps. “What if we had to open all the shutters of all the dams?” “At what point would you release the waters if it rains cats and dogs?”. Before anyone raised these questions as part of a scenario planning, we pulled the plug on our flood management and assumed that all is fine! An Inconvenient truth can’t be ignored forever!

 

#6. RAINS IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING

Because we live in the 21st century, and one should know that the “Rains In The Time Of Global Warming” can sometimes throw surprises at you! Thiruvananthapuram had witnessed the rains pulling Chennai down into the depth. We failed to realize that the Journey from Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai is short and swift! Eyebrows arched when the rains didn’t stop. The legend says that the open mouthed onlookers are yet to close it when they saw the reservoir fill up to the brim. Authorities knew that they were in for  sleepless nights when the shutters of the dams opened one by one which they thought was impossible!

 

#7. DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES!

After all, it was in 1924 that a deluge happened which left the state shaken. Oh,  we could do nothing back then because we were, you see, slaves under the British! And back then there was no such thing called KERALA! 1924 was a distant and a bleak memory! All our elders had not witnessed the floods of 1924. Hence there were no myths about the survival tales from the floods of 1924. I sincerely wish now that someone from 1924 could come back to life and warn us about what they endured and help us prepare for today! Alas! Dead men tell no tales!!

 

#8. RUMOR MILLS ON STEROID

The opening of the shutters of the dams literally threw the cat among the pigeons! Because we had no Hans Brinker to put his finger in the dike! This is Kerala and not Netherlands you see!! Instead of allaying fears we create new horrifying stories! Our wannabe Hans Brinkers resurrected the ghost of Mullaperiyar which spread like a wildfire. Fodder for the rumor mills started flowing thick and fast on the social media! Hail Mark Twain for saying: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes”. Authorities pressed the panic button chastising the social media vigilantes. They admitted that Mullaperiyar is safe and sound and it will not break! Everyone breathed a sigh of relief!

 

#9. WRATH OF THE CHRONIC BACHELOR

Imagination ran amok when one of those warriors floated a conspiracy theory that a Bachelor God who sits in a remote hill was pissed off by the decision to let menstruating women inside the sanctum and hence he unleashed this fury upon us! That’s the height of creative thinking one can reach during the deluge. Looks like the flood had already washed his brains away! Mythical Gods who stay inside the sanctums of temples, churches and mosques too were not spared! Devotees who doubled as Scuba divers could only pray to them! The masked vigilantes of Social Media built a fortress of lies destroying which took precious time away from the men in charge!

 

#10. MEN & WOMEN ON A MISSION

Forget the mythical men, the real men knew that the disaster was turning into a catastrophe now! They were exhausted by now but the rains showed no signs of waning and was coming down with a vengeance. Cometh the hour, Cometh the Army! State Police, NDRF and Coast Guard needed desperate help since rains were pounding every inch of Kerala! By then the clouds killed the daylight!We had nothing to eat and had cold, darkness and rains for company. Drenched, marooned and hungry, almost all Keralites spent that night on terraces awaiting rescue personnel who couldn’t come due to the villainous weather. That night, perhaps the darkest and the longest nights of our lives, was set for an encore! We were hopeful that the rains will go away by the end of that night and the water levels will go down. Huge Mistake!

 

#11. THROWING CAUTION TO THE WIND

The next morning, during an interlude, boats and jeeps announcing the people to leave their homes for safe camps came in. None of us moved out! Because we are way too smarter than the men and women of IMD! They were accused of crying wolf. My neighbours, walking encyclopedias, claimed they knew the terrain and the weather like the back of their palms. They pooh poohed the authorities! And this contagious attitude spread throughout the state! Nobody wanted to leave the safety of their homes! Home is a sentiment! Safe Camps are Not! Clinging onto our homes we collectively said: “We’ll believe it when we see it.” And what we saw that day, we will never forget it even after our deaths!

 

#12. THAT SINKING FEELING

Rain drops, the size of cherries, came down thick and fast! Rivers roared back to life and defeated the banks! We secured ourselves on tables and chairs, but by then the waters had breached the gates of our homes. We were shaken but not stirred. Seething in rage, the waters swallowed the cars in no time! We panicked and ran to the safety of the first floor! From there I saw, through the window, that the waters were stopping at nothing and was baying for our blood! We ran for the terrace! Water had conquered the safe place we called home by now. Once on top of the house, we saw no land! It was as if we all had built houses on top of a river! The river had breached every barrier and found new inroads into paddy fields and even small lanes!

 

#13. MAROONED!

We had meager food to survive that night! Some floating coconuts saved us from hunger! Fortunately with me were agile beings. For the older and younger ones and their guardians this was a nightmare! Finally We Saw It And We Believed It! The terrace too was filling up steadily! We cursed our decisions to pay no heed to the warnings! A respect and admiration for IMD and the authorities stuck with us for a while! When the rains stopped momentarily, there was silence all around! The occasional silence was broken by the gushing rivers! And for the first time we thought about DEATH! Death was just an arms  length away from us!

 

#14. FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL

As an unprecedented disaster was raining down upon the most literate part of India, they were left wondering what on earth went wrong in a routine Monsoon season! This Monsoon was different because it brought along the Grim Reaper and he spared none! Death went on a hunting spree sparing neither the  maze of backwaters nor the majestic mountains! While death licked the life out of unsuspecting beings, fear and dejection were enough for the rest of them. Farmers couldn’t see their crops getting destroyed, NRIs’ couldn’t bare the sight of their savings disappear in a jiffy, Housewives weeped when they lost their diary animals to flood, The Youth couldn’t bear to see their machines lying dilapidated in dirt. Pets lost their Babies, Babies lost their Fathers, Fathers lost their Mothers, Mothers lost their Daughters, Daughters lost their Husbands, Husbands lost their Sisters, Sisters lost their Brothers, Brothers lost their Friends, Friends Lost their Neighbors, Neighbors lost their Relatives, Relatives lost their Homes, Homes lost their Community, the Community lost its Society, the Society lost its Representatives, the Representatives lost its State and The State Lost its Identity.

 

#15. WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS

A sense of Loss pervaded us all! We were We looked up at the sky not as an appeal to the sky daddies but for the Air Force Helicopter to appear out of nowhere! We expectantly gazed at the horizon for a rescue boat of the Navy to reach us! Nobody came! Cell Phones were dying a slow death! We were able to connect with our relatives and they tried to alert the rescue teams! Water was rising and the currents were getting stronger! Even rescue boats could not withstand them, we thought. But still we were hopeful! The sound of rain hitting the terrace felt like giant thuds, waters were bloodthirsty and winds were vengeful! I closed my eyes, and I fell on a meadow! I felt as if the world around me was getting bigger and I was becoming a midget! I wanted to dissolve and sink into the nether world! I cursed myself for coming down to the wrong place at the wrong time. I imagined myself sitting on the sofa at my home in Chennai.

 

#16. BREAKING THE SPIRIT

I couldn’t teleport myself to Chennai. My fantasies were not helping me overcome my grief. Thoughts gushed through my mind like the waters. I thought: “Why wasn’t I born like a river! There was nothing to worry and you could flow wherever you pleased! Why was I not a wind for I could go anywhere and accelerate as I please! Why was I not a thunder for I could land anywhere as I pleased! I looked at my hands and they were wrinkled by the water. My feet too were no different. I felt the wetness climbing up and gripping me. One of my relatives threw up and I saw water come out of her mouth. I too had cupped my hands and drank rain water for survival. It made me think that water and not blood ran through my body. “Aren’t we all made of water?” A voice inquired.

 

#17. A STATE OF DELIRIUM

I went to the edge of the terrace and looked at the roaring waters flowing gleefully without a care in the world. I wanted to jump in and evaporate becoming one with the water! Sensing my desperation and fear, the voice shouted at me from inside: Why are you not Water? We all are Water! Its Water everywhere!! Why are you not Dead yet? Why are you even Alive? Become one with the water! I found it hard to put those voices from emerging again! I witnessed hope leaving my body and merging with the river!

 

#18. A MIRAGE?

I was Hungry, Thirsty, Confused, Hopeless, Selfish,Regretful, Hopeful, Angry,Melancholic and Selfless. All at the same time! Like the rest of them I too was getting confused! “Why are you not water?” asked the voice again! Floods had broken me apart! All I had was that last ounce of Courage with me. Just as I was about to answer my demons, I heard the faint noise of a mechanized boat from the distance!! I saw a fishing boat, my messiah, appear on the horizon like a speck! I trained my eyes on the boat and saw the speck turn into a boat emerging from the horizon. And at that very moment I realized who am I! I answered at last: “I am not Water because I am a Human. I am not Wind because I live and not float around. I am not thunder because I want to steal it. I am not Rain because nobody controls me.”

 

#19. WE ARE SURVIVORS!

As I boarded the boat along with my dear ones, I was saying to myself: ” I am human. I live. I struggle. Others wound me, I wound myself. I heal. But my scars are a reminder. I learn. I survive. I never forget. I live to tell my tales.  I am a martyr,a wounded Survivor!”  After two days of deluge and existential crisis, I saw a Tarred Road and felt euphoric! I saw a sea of humanity for the first time, after three days, inside a Government School. We were alive! People came together despite all odds. We all were taken aback by the magnitude of the crisis. But once we got a hang of it, the people started coming together to help each other. Everybody thanked the brave hearts who risked their lives to rescue us! Safe Camps had food and clothes donated by selfless people! It is through these trying circumstances that humanity comes to the fore. Some were seen consoling the desolate ones. Some were happy to be alive and the others waited expectantly for their relatives to join them. But the magnitude of loss was huge. Many were left homeless and clueless as to what to do and from where to begin! They were consoled by fellow survivors. It was then that I heard these lines: “We will find a way! We can start all over!”

 

#20. THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

Right at the beginning of this decade, a gentleman from Pune warned us all about the wanton abuse we are committing in the Western Ghats. Instead of giving him a patient hearing, a combination of politics, business, power and faith rallied together and muzzled his voice out! His name is MADHAV GADGIL and his appeal to leave the ecologically sensitive Ghats alone fell on deaf ears. We were digging our own graves back in 2013. A few years before, when a young IAS Officer called Sriram Venkataram questioned the encroachments in the hills, these forces came together again to drive him out of the district. The state was a mute witness all the while!!

 

#21. VIOLATION IS THE NORM

A myopic leadership, who fell prey to greed, promoted incessant exploitation of the verdant hills over the years. Rampant deforestation saw the forest cover dwindle which was replaced by Mushrooming quarries, Fancy Resorts, Illegal Settlements and Hill Cutting which doubled in no time! The latter earned them profits! But only forests could’ve ameliorated Landslides! Those Rocks of Ages could’ve easily doubled as water storehouses! And even those unassuming grasses could’ve held the soil together! Many inhabitants in the low lying Kuttanad region are resigned to the fact that there will inevitably be fund misuses from the Kuttanad Package!

 

#22. DO OR DIE!

Cosmetic changes won’t help the state from here on! We need to thoroughly overhaul the way we govern our natural wealth and summon able help from all quarters. Our backs are against the wall!Map the terrain digitally, warn the wrongdoers, demolish encroachments, adopt best practices, promote sustainable living and stay alert! If we want to survive between the deep sea and the great mountains in an age of global warming and unpredictable weather, we need to re-imagine ourselves and our state! The decisions we take from now on will become the template for the future!

I walked away from the commotion and stood at the banks of river Pamba and stared at the horizon. The floods were a great leveler for us. It cleansed our souls. I could sense the waters carried away the prejudices and pride we had about us! A cool monsoon wind blew my face and this time it didn’t carry the smell of mangoes!

#23. THE END
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Posted August 19, 2018 by Aneesh in The Motley Crew

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“After Me, The Deluge.”   Leave a comment

 

real only only cloud_edited

Water gushing out of The Anchuruli Tunnel Into The Idukki Reservoir. This picture was clicked during this Monsoon which turned out to be a Deluge in Kerala. A myopic leadership, who fell prey to greed, promoted incessant exploitation of the verdant hills over the years. Rampant deforestation saw the forest cover dwindle which was replaced by Mushrooming quarries, Fancy Resorts, Illegal Settlements and Hill Cutting which doubled in no time! The latter earned them profits! But only forests could’ve ameliorated Landslides! Those Rocks of Ages could’ve easily doubled as water storehouses! And even those unassuming grasses could’ve held the soil together! Just when they thought they were safe in their Potemkin facade, Nature showed who is in-charge! The Quote attributed to Louis XVI is relevant here: Nature seems to be saying “After Me, The Deluge!”, foreshadowing the difficulties that would fall upon Kerala after years of intense insensitivity towards nature!!

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