Many years ago, I moved to India with Bollywood stars in my eyes and a loud, strumming beat in my heart. For someone who was born and raised overseas, this was going to be my big Indian adventure.
But like in most Indian movies, first you’ve got to hate each other before you find true love.
I fell in love with my country reluctantly at first, and then in a mad rush.
The closeness in my grandparents’ small town of Nagercoil. The freshly washed sun in Kerala, every morning. The smoke and independence in Bangalore’s air. The feeling that someone hit the fast-forward button and lost the remote control a very long time ago, in Mumbai. The indomitable, infectious positivity of Chennai, through heat or rain.
About the time when I was crushing hard on India, I stumbled upon this ad.
I watched it every single day. Later, when I moved away from India, I watched it every time I missed her. It reminded me of an India we all dreamt we could be part of. One that was film-y enough to be us. One that seemed impossible and yet, something that could only happen in India.
One that we’ve been seeing over and over again for the last few weeks during the Chennai floods.
No vigils, protests or petitions. No time for controversy or negativity. No blogs, logos or inspirational quotes.
It has been action, action, action. Go, go, go.
Food, clothes and medicines are being handed out to the drowned by the drowning. Phone numbers and home addresses are being shared openly and urgently. You need a car, they have a car. You need a doctor, they’ll bring you a doctor. You need to charge your phone, they’ll take you to a clean, dry power source.
If power blackouts and dead phone & mobile lines weren’t going to stop Chennai-ites from helping one another, then what was a little waist-high rain and drain water. No one waited to see what the government would do; they were out long before red-tapism permitted it and will be there long after the media circus ends.
The Chennai floods have wrecked havoc upon her people, but her people have given themselves the gift of time and faith.
Through ruined homes, lost belongings and threatened health, the Chennai-ites have inspired the world with their unwavering and unstoppable fortitude.
It’s far from over and far from perfect, but this is humanity at it’s best. If there was ever a starting point for a better world, this is it.
It didn’t take a calamity for the people of Chennai to band together, they’ve always been that way – it’s part of the whole Tamil charm. But it did show the rest of the world how to move forward.
By getting shit done.