December 2nd 2015 – A day I will remember in great detail. And by that I mean like Sheldon – eidetic memory and all that! For the rest of my life! Why? Because I learnt a lot of lessons. Life lessons. Hopefully positive too!
December 2nd 2015 was a Wednesday. A very rainy one. The previous night was a bummer because there was a really long power cut. And we had to make do with no TV, low charged mobile phones for mindless whatsapping, and no microwaveable hot dishes.
Many near and dear ones called us in the morning to find if we were ok, thanks to tv reports, rumors and truth on social media, tamilnadu weatherman forecasts and the panchaangam (traditional methods of hindu astrology). Well, we were ok. We smiled. Reassured people. And stocked up for the rainy days ahead. And then it all began.
Lesson 1 . You think you have a plan.
I surely did. My plan was to live a “simple”life during the badly forecast days of rain. I prepared myself mentally for power cuts. So I had stocked up on provisions that would not be easily perishable (read rotis, dal and eggs). I had my work cut out. I was going to do a lot of written work that did not include electricity. Letters to write (Yes, I have a bunch of pen friends and we write to each other the pen and paper way), assignments to prepare for and the like. Priding myself on being ultra organised, I was relaxed that Wednesday morning.
But what did I really learn?: I thought I was preparing myself for a simple life. Turns out my version of simple was not simple. I should have thought minimalistic. Couple of hours down the line – I had no thoughts of food perishable or non perishable, no fancy words to write in my letters, and no creativity to showcase in my assignments. All I was thinking was how to creatively salvage what we could and how to get out of my house.
Lesson 2 . You think you are connected.
John Donne said ” No man is an Island” More so in today’s world where we are connected through Whatsapp groups, private chats, phone calls, Face time, Skype, Facebook, Instagram and what not. And you think that all these will help you in case of an emergency. I can upload on Facebook, tweet about it, send a message in groups – that’s what we take for granted every single day.
But what did I really learn?: News Flash : You need wifi and there is no power. You need mobile data (Yes all the 3G and 4G the pretty girl tells you is unlimited on TV!) But the network operators decide to shut down. And you are relying on your senile memory to desperately grasp at phone numbers that are just an illusion in your head. Arrogantly displaying your useful as a brick smartphone. Pity, the landline is the only thing that works. But sadly redundant in our heads and homes. Sorry John Dunne. Man was indeed an island on Dec 2.
Lesson 3. You work hard so that you can afford stuff.
You buy a house. And then a car. And do it up well. Look up magazines, hire an architect. Paint it. Lights. A lawn. The works.
But what did I really learn ? : None of these matter. You cannot take them with you. You may have to leave it behind. All of them. The things you waited so many days to buy. Or saved up for. The envy of others. Anything. When I left home – I carried my wallet, mobile 2 sets of clothes, my grandparent’s photos, an ID proof and a couple of certificates. That’s all. None of the books I heavily invested in and thought were the reason for my life. Not the Laptop. Nor the Tablet. Nope. Din’t think of them even once.
In a way – the Chennai floods taught me a lot more. That you are never safe. That things change. That the things and people you thought you could rely on, may not be so reliable. But that random people you din’t think of, step up to the occasion. That people help. That some like to see you struggle. There are more expenses than you imagine. But it does not seem important in that minute.You are powerless against Nature. Or stupid bureaucracy. That you yourself are not the person you thought you were. You are extremely strong on auto pilot. And can be really more arrogant and self-obsessed than we realise too.
Surprisingly, when people were clicking their tongues and enquiring about all the material damage (read vehicles, electronic equipments,cleaning, plumbing, carpentry ) – I feel like I have some clarity. Or maybe I am just zombied out.