Friday, January 27, 2017

December and Chennai

We have seen and have now got immune to collective apathy, you know that ignoring what happens around and going on with life has been happening everywhere for long. If you are from Chennai however December seems to be a month when collective apathy is kept aside and people come together for the good of the other. If you have been in the Chennai floods or cyclone Vardah you will know what the emotions behind this post are.

This year Chennai added one more page to it's growing list of encomiums, the jallikattu protest. Much has been written about the protest and this post is not about the protest but the day when the protest ended. If you were in Chennai and in some parts of the city that felt the effects of the police action you would remember the paralysing traffic jams that threw the city out of gear. I was affected too, because my daughter was stuck in the van for over 3 hours without food.

Though I was upset at the mismanagement of the events by the powers that be, I observed that like me many others did not blame the students for the hardships. It will be grossly unfair to pain the entire protest as a student activity for it was not just the students but their parents, few grandparents, relatives, neighbours and many others who converged on the beach. The Marina has been the venue for many landmark gatherings and public meetings till the historic and monumental Seerani Arangam was demolished but this was a spontaneous demonstration of pent up feelings of a large section of the citizens of the city under the collective banner of jallikattu.

         (The Seerani Arangam where many historic speeces were given - pic courtesy Vikatan)

I digress from the post but I observed that many like me did not blame the movement (better than protest) because maybe they were also a part of the movement by deed or in spirit or maybe they have developed some empathy from two Decembers gone by. What was heartening was the relative absence of anger and road rage that you will see on the streets of Chennai, those who usually break every traffic rule were silently waiting it out. Many helped to regulate the traffic and I noticed a few youngsters sharing a few reassuring words to the rare harassed motorist. I observed one bride in her finery and wedding gown sitting in a car and I noticed the lack of tension on her face despite been stationary for a long period, her bridesmaid on the other hand was visibly nervous! Motorists who were getting diverted from one crossing to another smiled in resignation and kept going, something that was unbelieveable to see.

Chennai, you are changing for the better and it seems that December brings out the best in you, more than the music festivals, the kolams and the Christmas festivities. This year the goodness seems to have flowed over into the New Year. Here is a silent prayer that this goodness grows and spreads through this year.

 P.S. The picture is my fooling around with MS Paint

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