Chennai won’t forget this past week any time soon, and, as I sit down to write this, I still can’t believe the ordeal we’ve been through. What is really amazing is how the city came together, all differences forgotten, everyone helping in whatever way they could. The list is a long one, but I’d like to make a few mentions. Many have been featured in this column for their parties, wit and hospitality, but this time they were out there in the thick of things, rescuing people and animals from the floods. Abhimanyu Prakash, Ishani Appaya and Rohan and Shannon Prabhakar braved the waters in a lifeboat to get people, including my folks, from their homes. With many houses underwater in T Nagar and Kotturpuram, Arun Vasu and his amazing crew from the Covelong Point surf school in their kayaks, and Vinayak Shankar from Krishna Mines along with his team in his 1943 Ford GPA Amphibious Seep, brought people to safety.
Meanwhile, across the city, different groups of people ensured that food and other supplies were distributed. From people making food for hundreds in their own homes, to collecting and delivering water and medicines, to opening their homes to strangers and stray animals, the kindness that was shown was unbelievable. The couple known to be the life of every party, Lakshmi and TK with help from family and friends fed more than a thousand people, as did banker Vijay and his wife, Shilpa Rao. Actor Karthik Kumar and his wife Suchitra along with the entire Evam team, worked tirelessly for days, handing out supplies, putting together bread and jam sandwiches, doing whatever was required. In another part of town, designer duo Satkrit Krishna and Sruthi Sai have dedicated themselves to a clean-up project along the Adyar River to deal with the aftermath, the banks of the river covered in trash. They’re also working on involving the 3000 families in the area and spreading awareness.
Meanwhile, a shout-out to entrepreneurs like M Mahadevan of Oriental Cuisines and to SPI Cinemas for opening up their offices for relief work and coordinating with groups from all over the city. The restaurant at SPI Cinemas was closed and converted into community kitchens and clean water was provided from the RO plant at Sathyam, as groups like Real Image, Bhoomika and Chennai Micro helped provide food and shelter to the people in need. It was a disastrous week, no doubt, and the months ahead will be rough. But we now know that the city stands united.