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Odyessey Book Store, Adyar, Chennai on April 17, 2016
Stories of the Deluge Now in a Book
New Indian Express, April 20, 2016
CHENNAI: It’s been over three months since the disastrous floods. We have talked about the losses, debated over the causes and expressed sympathy for the victims. Journalist, writer and blogger Meera Raghavendra Rao found another reason and decided to pen it into a book — The Spirit of Chennaiites.
“I came across two domestic maids who were affected by the floods. I asked them how they were. In their ill-fitted clothes, they told me they had lost everything and had lived on the roof for days. I pitied the two but then they told me not to feel bad and that they would work harder and earn it all back. That got me thinking. I was foolish to pity them. Chennaiites don’t brood over loses, we act!” says Meera at the launch of her book at Odyessey Book Store, Adyar.
In conversation with chief guest Pravin M who is an architect, the author shared another reason for book. “Yes, a lot has been talked about again and again. But I wanted to document it in my own way. A book is permanent and this is my reward to all of us.” Meera is a compulsive writer and blogger. She loves writing people-centric stories and spent 10 years writing about bureaucracy and crime facts. “I am inspired by what I read and hear. Also, I believe the best way to report is to get everything from the horse’s mouth. I got people to talk about their experiences.” The Spirit of Chennaiites is a small 75-page handy book written in three months that not only documents the trauma but also holds first-person excerpts of flood victims.
Towards the end, the audience began to share their experiences too. For some, the power shutdown and being deprived of technology was a wake-up call while for others it turned out to be an epiphany — about family and love. There are survivors who revealed their nightmare and also the stories of the dead. “The floods acted as a leveler; eighty to eight-year-old came together to help and support each other. I wanted to air my grievances and celebrate the united strength of our people,” smiles Meera.
December deluge chronicled in book form
News Today, April 21, 2016
Chennai: “I was inspired to write a book which will add permanency in the form documentation to the incidents and unforeseen happenings that took place during the November-December deluge in the city,” said journalist-writer N Meera Raghavendra Rao at the launch of her latest book, ‘The Spirit of Chennaiites.’
In a conversation with chief guest, architect Pravin M Aiana, organised as part of the launch function last evening at a famous book store in Adyar, she said that was how the idea of a book on the Chennai floods – the first book to record the deluge, was born.
She got the book, her seventh, ready in less than four months after the great deluge. Meera said she was moved by the plight of many people who were greatly affected by the torrential rain and resultant floods.
Not only that, she said, she wanted to prove that just as there was praise for the spirit of Mumbaikars, she wanted to establish that Chennaiites were equally resilient “I understood the real pain of the deluge when I met two maids who had lost everything to the floods… even their clothes. When I expressed pity for them, they said, “Madam, why do you feel bad? We will earn back every penny that we lost.” That is where I found the real spirit of Chennai – not in the place that is well-off, but where people didn’t have anything.”
That led her to call her book ‘The Spirit of Chennaiites’.
The 75-page book that also has photos, contributions/articles by the editor and reporters of ‘News Today’, carries three real-life experiences of people who were the worst hit by the deluge.
Said Meera, “Since all three were real-life experiences, I decided that the best way to describe the incident would be in first person narrative. I also know that many more went unreported.”
Once the floor was thrown open to the audience – the room was packed – there was a deluge of ‘stories’ of what they went through or did not go through.
While one youngster said hey had bonded as a family at the time of crisis, another person narrated the moving tale of an elderly woman being found dead by her son on the 15th floor of the high-rise in OMR and battling for two days to solve the problem of doing her last rites.
One person in the audience stressed the need for going the solar way – as he did – and said that bailed him out during the December floods. The first copy of the book that is pocket-friendly in size and price, was received by Professor K N Rao, a retired professor of Botany from a city college and an author himself.
About Just Li’Es:
Life is not all sugar and spice and all things nice. Life is a bitter-sweet pill enriched by variety and creativity and often swallowed with self pity or piety. It all depends upon the liver (pun intended) whether he/she looks for sympathy or empathy at unavoidable unpleasant situations life presents.
It is little wonder that features which are also known as “people journalism” are increasingly becoming popular in today’s tension filled world as people would love to read about experiences of others like them and feel they are not alone to moan and despair or feel helpless.
As a feature writer of long standing and a columnist as well as an optimist looking at the Lighter side of Life, I would like to share my thoughts on a variety of topics through my site “Just Li’ES”(Life’s experiences) which I hope kindles the mind of my readers especially students pursuing journalism courses to give expression to their creativity, be it through prose or poetry. Feedback to this site is more than welcome.
Experiences are classified under categories: Lighter side of Life, Travel, Book Launches/ Reviews and Chennai Potpourri. The categories are sub-classified as sub-pages under each of the categories for easy readability. Enjoy the experiences. Comments are welcome!
N Meera Raghavendra Rao