Normal is Boring – Bring on the Crisis

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Isn't normal boring? Often times it is.

Look at Chennai ten days ago. A quiet little city, deep down in the South of India, with the only news hitting national media was some comment or the other by some politician of one hue or the other. So what's new? Life carried on. And then the rains came and normal was shoved out in the swirling waters of the flooded city and a crisis loomed large. How exciting!

One cannot but help marvel at the outpouring of selflessness that is being witnessed on the streets of Chennai currently. The city is submerged thanks to the gazillion gallons of water pouring from the skies. Houses are under water, roads have disappeared, bridges have collapsed, an open shop has become a memory and people are hungry, thirsty, cold and in many cases without a roof over their heads.

The citizens of Chennai, along with the Government have opened their hearts and their doors. All kudos to them. Food packets are being distributed. People are starting food banks to feed those who are hungry. The Government has distributed over two million packets of food. People are singing praises to the Army, NDRF, police, local administration, etc. In times of crisis, people do forget their differences and come together as one to provide whatever help they can provide. It is providence that allows this opportunity to come to the help of a fellow human being and this gives us the opportunity to attain for some of the sins we might have committed in our lives. We Indians are very devout and any opportunity at serving people is a God send.

The media is not left behind. Print, television and social media is also being flooded (pun unintended) with photos and videos of the devastation and of people coming to the help of sundry other unknown people. Phone numbers of food banks are being exchanged. Those living in comparatively drier areas are extending support, offering to reach food and water to those who cannot move due to the waters.

This is what makes life exciting, isn't it? Sure does.

Imagine how boring life would be for the citizens if they were akin to the person on the right of the picture above, who posted this hypothetical tweet. This family was actually enjoying themselves in the middle of all this devastation and calamity. Enjoying their holiday forced by the rains and the floods. They delved into their stock of food and water and other beverages and were enjoying an impromptu picnic on their terrace.

And imagine, like this family, if every other family did the same. If everyone had a stock of packaged food or at least dry rations in their larder. A couple of cases of drinking water stored away under the bed for just such an occasion. Board games to keep the kids occupied. Some charcoal to fire up the barbecue and bingo, everyone could have had a party.

So, the entire city would be enjoying the holiday while the authorities would be left to do their job of cleaning the city of garbage, health workers would ensure that disease did not spread, the electricity guys would work overtime to get the grid back up.

Everything would be like clockwork, with none of the pandemonium that is existing currently because no one is prepared, stocked or ready. The media would have nothing sensational to report - citizens not dying, no panic in the city, no boats rowing from one colony to the next distributing food packets, children happy not to have to go to School, and the parents catching up on some quality time.

How boring can life get?

Ah, but this is for the affluent, isn't it? Is it? How about the ones who are poor, who live in slums, who do not have the luxury of stocking mineral water bottles under their non-existent beds? Can they at least have some potassium permanganate tablets to purify the water they are drinking? If not potassium permanganate, at least some iodine drops to disinfect the water? Are they so poor that they can't even horde 50 grams of rice and dal every week? (If they are that poor, in a metropolitan city like Chennai then the Government sure has a lot to answer for.) Can they find some tarpaulin sheets and construct some kind of shelter to sleep under and be warm? Do they really have to wait for the rescue boat to come in? No, they do not.

We, over the years, have become used to having things done for us. If it rains, it is the Government's fault. If it floods it is because successive authorities have done nothing. If the drains and sewers are clogged it is because the municipal corporation did not dredge like they were supposed to. And when something happens (it is really "when" and not "if") we wait for help to arrive. We wait for someone to give us food and water and shelter.

When will we learn to take responsibility and do just a little bit for ourselves to stay safe during a calamity. It is not about Armageddon or the Apocalypse. It is happening in the here and now. There was Kedarnath. There was Vadodara. There was Srinagar. There was Assam. There was Mumbai. And there is Chennai today. And it will happen again come the next rains.

But then, if we are prepared it will be really boring watching television, won't it? Normal is boring. Let us bring on the crisis and wait for help like manna from Heaven.

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