When I look back at the year gone by and think of someone who’s inspired me, a lot of faces come into the frame, and choosing one is difficult. However one of them does stand out. And that is the nameless, the unknown, the faceless- The Common Man of Chennai.
It was a cruel joke played by nature on the people of Chennai when massive floods hit the city last year. It also was largely a reality check for the country at large, for every citizen, to think how prepared one was if something of this magnitude strikes his/her own city.
When any natural calamity strikes, the news channels have their heyday. Isn't it just wonderful (for them) not to have to make up juicy stories to sell, when tragedy is readily available off the streets for free? So also it was this time. From trying to highlight how the disaster was not ‘well-covered’ and was being ignored compared to say the Kashmir floods or the Uttarakhand floods, to trying to say how the state has never really been considered ‘Indian’ enough, we had vultures from the main stream media trying their best to outdo each other. No stone was left unturned in their quest to prove who ‘covered’ the flood situation completely. Everyone wanted to be the first one to report. At times the reporting was so insensitive, it was disgusting.
Next came the two-faced blokes, the politicians. It requires a certain amount of stone-heartedness for one to feast on human tragedy, and these people seemed to be blessed with ample amounts of this particular quality. Each wanted to emerge as the messiah who was there at the right place right time, ‘serving’ the people. There were reports of how their photos were being forcibly imprinted on packets carrying relief material to the people, leading to criminal waste of time. Narcissism at its best!
And in between all this chaos, emerged a hero. (S)He was the Common (Wo)Man of Chennai.
Reports started trickling in, and then slowly gained momentum, of how each person was doing their bit to help, to be of some use to people around. Responsible journalism did help in letting the rest of the country know. People were making the best possible use of available resources, simple methods to purify water to make it portable were being popularised- there was practical application of science. Like Rancho practically applied the fact that salt water is a good conductor of electricity.
Social media did help a lot too. Photographs were being circulated across the length and breadth of the country. Of how ‘stars’ and common man alike, were working tirelessly towards rescuing people. Many people reportedly threw open the doors of their houses to the public, to accommodate as many people as possible. No one checked the background of people when they took in displaced people- be it slum-dwellers, or people from different faiths. Hotels/bakers worked continuously to ensure supply of food. Women with children, elderly, the ill, etc. received all possible help from people around.
And this was not done to grab media attention. Not done for votes. Not done to click pictures (selfies!) to upload on social media sites with mindless hashtags. Not done for fame or to appear cool. Not done to invest and to double and quadruple bank balances. It was done to help another fellow citizen. It was the most basic of all instincts of man coming through the mess- the basic instinct of survival. Even before help poured in from the rest of the country, people of this city helped themselves.
In those horrifying days, Chennai showed her resilience. She showed how much collective power a common man could have. And the common man showed what we could achieve if we stood united. Even in those trying times, hope wasn’t lost. People spoke about the ‘spirit of humanity’ when certain unfortunate incidents shook places thousands of miles away from the country. Much closer home, Chennai showed us what ‘spirit of humanity’ truly meant. She refused to bow down, she refused to give up.
Which is why Bane's thoughts on Gotham apply here very well: This Great City Will ENDURE.
Share your thoughts on someone who inspired you in 2015. Spread the Vibe!