Who cares about Chennai floods anyway?

Chennai

With only a few days left in Ann Arbor, I was telling my mum over FaceTime that I have met so many incredible people here at Ross in just 3 months and made a lot of friends (this is an achievement for an introvert like me). She exclaimed “Oh Indians in the US are like that, it’s a great community to be a part of” (Her reference is all the kindness her daughters have been showered with and the many stories she’s heard from friends). I quickly responded saying “Hey, that’s not true. Indians anywhere are an equally strong community”. I don’t know why I said this despite having met so many Indians (myself included) across my travels who desperately try to avoid eye contact with other Indians. Some part of me wanted to believe that there is truth in what I was saying and so, in order to put that to test, I decided to post a message on the Indian community whatsapp group urging people to organise a fundraiser for the Chennai floods back in my school in Barcelona.

Fundraisers are a huge part of the MBA – be it for someone’s baby or for the homeless in Barcelona (I didn’t know they existed until I saw a few of them sleep in the ATMs). This exercise builds understanding and empathy amongst students regarding a diverse set of underprivileged across the world. Of course, on the other hand, it compels people who genuinely do not have the capacity to participate in charity to give in (non-sponsored students, people from countries of weaker currencies, those whose families aren’t well off). Nonetheless, you learn to support others even when it’s difficult for you and that’s what the world needs today and not war!

To my absolute horror, not one single person on the group responded to my message..not even people from Chennai!! I couldn’t understand at all. Let’s just say that the cause is bigger than any of us and it doesn’t matter if half the people of this group of 42 don’t know who I am (I haven’t met the first years since I am on exchange). It’s ok if people don’t want to contribute monetarily, but I wondered why such a big disaster to one of our own states didn’t kindle an inkling of a reaction. Maybe we don’t have friends or family stuck in the floods. There’s no Facebook display picture changer for the Chennai floods. The floods in Chennai are not going to affect the odd south Indian restaurant in our non-Madras cities. Maybe we don’t have to travel to Chennai for a visa. It’s probably too inconvenient to start explaining what Chennai is to people in Europe. Or, we probably don’t care enough? Although I’m secretly hoping they care enough to think about this, even if they don’t care to reply to my text.

I have only been watching, reading and hearing news about Chennai in the comfort of a home thousands of miles away, but I have never felt more admiration for a community that has come together so harmoniously to help Chennai brave the floods. All the voluntary rescue workers, people on social media, several start ups, young and old people in and around Chennai – Hats off! I can only hope for the same spirit to ensue if my city were in any kind of trouble someday (touchwood)!

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