We were in tremendous tension when we lost complete contact with our elder brother and family who reside on the banks of Chalakkudy river which was in total fury.
I had asked him to come over, but like many he was comfortable with the three levels of his house, even in case of water entering the ground floor.
No one expected such fury and electricity, landline and mobile batteries died down.
Approach roads were flooded with river flowing rapidly through the roads making it difficult even for boats to go.
We were devastated when the teams coordinated by my nephew in police could not reach and returned by night.
I have been less religious and neglecting prayers, but willingly obliged when my wife asked me to join her in prayers. We said rosary and novena of ‘ Mother of Perpetual Succour’
And I told my Mother’s photo on my bed table, ‘take care of your favourite son’. (I lost my mother in 2001).
Within minutes, my wife got a message from a friend in kuwait saying that she knew the Naval official in charge of rescue operation. He was given the location coordinates of the house.
Almost simultaneously my brother’s son got a call from my brother saying that they are safe and that water has started receding. Also they were given water and bread by an aid boat. The landline worked briefly for him to send the message.
An intervention indeed.
Yesterday I wrote about my frustration of being a passive donor to the flood victims. I am yet to find an active way of getting involved to satisfy my wounded pride.
I looked at my wardrobe again and there are numerous outfits that I have not worn for a year or so. And they are in good condition, washed, ironed and kept. And they will move now to a collection centre.
I want to talk about some amazing people who mostly use Instagram in coordinating relief activities. I can see only those of my connections, many of them in our blog community.
And let me stand up while writing about one of them. She’s just amazing. She coordinates everything. Asking for specific assistance, posting help related links and even prescribing medication for aid workers who get in contact with contaminated water.
I got connected to her when a friend shared her post and since i knew her family name, i got her Instagram contact also. I can’t give her identity without her consent.
There are many others like her. True angels.
It’s heartening to watch the dedication and efforts shown by simple people in the flood relief activities.
Clearly, I have a feeling of being the lesser of those many ordinary people, who brave the floods and rain to see that fellow human beings are taken care of.
Particular mention is of fishermen who voluntarily pressed their boats into rescue services all over and they very well match the efforts by armed forces. A big salute to them.
While me, with a lot of international experience and better resources are stuck in my place, watching the relief operations on television.
I wish I could be part of the relief team going deep down into the affected areas and participate in providing relief. I am, a swimming expert, claiming to be the water expert, but I am a nothing in the current grave flood situation in Kerala.
The only thing I am doing is donating money to the distress fund and giving some provisions and clothes to those relief workers collecting for the flood victims.
I should join a relief organisation and get trained so as to be pressed into service at the time of need.
Right now I have this complex of being an inferior person.
The silver lining in a situation of unprecedented natural calamity is some touching stories of bravery and empathy.
I am not talking about the commendable rescue operations of the trained personnel from the military, police and other aid agencies. I have some incidents narrated by aid workers.
Two of them are in stark contrast to each other. One is when the aid and rescue boat reached a big house which was ravaged by flash flood.
Two cars parked in the house were partly submerged in mud and lying somewhere in the compound. When the people reached the front door, a lady came out in wet clothes and asked if they would have a nightie. When they didn’t have, she asked for any dry cloth.
An elderly lady inside the house said ‘we have always given in this house, now we are asking’. That’s God’s decision.
Another very touching incident was when food aid essentials were distributed to an area of upper middle class houses. The aid worker notified a very poor looking lady sitting on the roadside and watching the distribution.
When asked why she is not joining the queue, she said pointing to a small tin roofed hut, I live there and water has not entered our house’. ‘We are poor, but right now they are in need’. Take care of them.
The girl I am mentoring came home last evening and brought these with her.
I love fresh dates and the best ripened one is evident as the packet was opened right away. It’s divine to have the ripe fresh dates melting in the mouth.
There are four verities of dates, two packs of Nectarine which is my favourite to have with oats and few pomegranates.
It was raining heavily but she also loves rain and watching rain from our balcony over the backwaters with the loved ones is again divine.
Of course, we had to postpone one of her wishes for another time. She wanted to go to a Toddy Shop and eat prawns. And I had selected the one made famous by the late Anthony Bourdain.
I am privileged that she selected me as mentor. Such a sweet and intelligent mentee.
I am mentor to her on her and her parent’s request and I am happy to work with such a brilliant mind.
She’s currently doing her post graduation in a premium institute in the USA.
After her internship with a UN agency, during vacation, she’s coming home today.
Good enough reason for me to be super excited.
The recent floods in Kerala (not over yet) have caused immense damage, taking lives and destroying property and agricultural land.
There are several aid organisations doing commendable work in providing relief. The question came up in a recent gathering as to what is the best way to donate.
My recommendation is clear. The best of work with required resources is by the state government and funding is from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund.
Donate wholeheartedly to the chief minister fund. The donor is eligible for 100% deduction of the donation from income tax.
That means, liberal donors get an additional 33 to 35% of donated amount as savings on tax.
Use this amount to assist someone we know have suffered in the floods.
I am not a fan of random private agencies as I can’t be sure of the end use.
And those who have moved from their houses to shelters when water reached inside, will need some clean clothes and sleeping materials.
Let’s open our hearts
Unprecedented and heavy rains continue in several areas in Kerala and some adjoining places and flood water levels are rising.
There was a stage when water levels in the numerous dams were rising and getting full. Planned and controlled release of enormous quantities of water are taking place
I wish to praise their efforts in seeing that the rush from one dam does not mingle with that of another. Commendable.
And the resilience of the people affected by the floods! My sympathies for their misery and salute to them for a brave stand.
The relief preparations are also very well managed. And i pray that the fury will subside now.
And I dedicate my challenge to flood waters by swimming upstream (posted earlier) to all these wonderful people.
My river in my hometown Thidanad is flowing in full force and it was a pleasure to swim in my favourite spot and refresh some sweet memories.
It was great then to lead a pack against the rapids in the youth years.
And it’s wonderful to do that now. Swimming against the strong current over some eight feet of powerful water flow to land on the rock upstream.
Yesterday’s trip to Thidanad was fulfilling for this reason alone.
And I must go again.
We took our guests to the waterfalls yesterday. It rained again and it was good to see an increasing number of tourists enjoying the falls, mostly from the Middle East.
The main falls were in full flow
And the Cherpa falls further up is something you can nearly touch.
Not that Jackfruit Icecream and Kerala Tea are the best combination. Just that both were on hand.