In General

This is a long overdue post. Yeah, the pics been seen before but I figured I still owe my views on the journey. I’d like to call it a really long bloggers meet. A bunch of us got together and wanted to help out the tsunami affected people in our own little way. The team included Anita, Arun, Joshi, Suman, Chitra, Nanda, Shravan and me.

Pretty much on an impulse, we decided to head to Chidambaram late in the evening.

We had two contrasting cars. Joshi’s ‘plastic-sheets-still-on-the-seat-cover’ new Santro and my squeaking ‘wheels-about-to-come-off’ 800. There were 8 of us.

We landed in Pondicherry a little after mid-night. Stopped for some rejuvunating Chai.

I’m a Pondicherrian (a proud one at that) I always find the red thopi of the cops pretty fascinating. I’ve also found the Pondy cops to be more tolerant with visitors and tourists. If it was Tamilnadu cops, they would’ve enquired what a bunch of yuppies in cars were doing in the middle of the night.

The cops had mosquito coils right under their bums.

We continued driving further and a few kilometers before Chidambaram, my car had a flat. Myself and Nanda changed the tires so quickly that folks joked we did a F1 pitstop.

We booked into a guest house and it was kinda funny to see my neighbour’s mode of transportation !!

I took my deflated tire to the puncture shop when Arun reminded that we need to inflate the footballs and volleyballs which we had bought to be given to the village folks. Each of us took turns at the handpump. We even momentarily thought of keeping a competition on who inflates the fastest.

We drove further towards the villages. Passed through some brillant sceneries.

We stopped to join the village boys for a game of cricket. I became the full time wicket-keeper. While few of us joined the game, Nanda and Suman started gathering important info from the boys about the damage and ensuing relief. After the game, we gave away cricket bats and tennis balls.

At one stage, the roads were extremely damaged. Too much for my car to take. So we played safe and hitchhiked a van carries medical supplies.

While travelling towards Muzhukuthuram, we could gauge the level of inundation of water into the land. I mean, the sea was nowhere in sight, yet the damn place was flooded. A sign of how far water had come inland.

The MGR statue at Muzhukuthurai

This is the view of MGR thittu from the mainland. The small patch of green beyond the waters is the MGR thittu island.

There is another island called Chinna Vaikal. You need to get your head closer to the monitor and squint your eyes. Ah! Now you see it. Yup, that small hazy patch is the island. I so much wanted to get to this island but couldn’t. One of my regrets is not making it here. The other regret is not visiting Pichavaram.

We had to take a boat to get to the island. The journey reminded me so much of Swades.

This is the couple who were ferrying people to and from the island. I wanted to get the conversation going and asked them if they lost anybody they knew in the tsunami attack. I regretted asking the question. The lady told me their only daughter died. My question seemed to flood back their memories. Sorrow written all over their face. I could never look into their eyes again.

Getting down from the boat and walking into the island with play materials to be distributed.

This is the first sight that caught my eye. I call it the skull of a boat. Eerie.

Things have remained untouched even after two weeks of the tsunami. Ruffled school books, overturned grinder, smashed tv, mangled nets were all lying around.

This photoframe had photos of happy family members. I wonder how many of them are now alive.

One of the most unforgettable moments of my trip. As I as walking inland, I saw this lady along with a few guys collecting coconuts. I approached her so I can strike up a conversation and get some details. She offered us tender coconuts and since we were anyways very thirsty, said yes. She kept insisting we drink more coconut water. She looked like any lady in Chennai selling cocounuts. I figured she really needed the money. After all she lost everything. After we had our fill, we asked her how much we had to pay for the coconuts. To our utter astonishment, she refused the money. That’s nearly Rs.200 worth of stuff we had. She said she offered us the coconut water because we must be thirsty and she wanted to help. I was touched and… embarrased. Embarrassed because I mentaly labelled her as an opportunistic lady trying to make quicky money from the visitors. She then showed us around her house, or what’s left of it.

These are the coconuts that she offered us.

This is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen. With no habitation around, it looked like I was transported back in time. Never seen such powdery whitish sand. It had a highly different texture as compared to the Chennai beach sand. It’s so beautiful that I’d like to call it the Phuket of the east.

The surf was bigger than I’d imagined. Strangely, it was a shallow beach and even after walking in 50 meters into the sea, the water is only waist deep. It’s very unlike the sea in Chennai which dips in deep. I couldn’t resist getting into the water. Quickly stripped down and waded into the cool waters.

An abondoned anchor makes for a great b/w shot.

Brilliant view. The green leaves and the azue skies made for fantastic contrast.

Nanda came up with the brilliant idea of buying crayons and white sheets of paper.

The time we spent with the kids is easily the most satisfying moment.

A boy drawing an India Flag

The trees started to dry up because of the salty water.

It was heartening to see this police chap. We asked him what he was doing on top of the building and he replied that he was there to announce on the Public address system incase there was another tsunami attack.

Anita, Arun and Joshi had collected money from their friends in Bangalore. This money was used in buying fishing nets to the villagers from Pillamedu. The person you see at the extreme right is Sathyamurthy, the guy who owns a fishing net shop. A very well known guy amongst the fisher folks. He was pretty helpful and even gave a decent discount on the Nets.

Nets was one thing that the fishermen want. There are still many who are in need. There are people in hamlets like MGR thittu, Chinna Vaikal who really could do with help. If you want to help, please offer your assistance to these folks.