Far-flung benevolence: Youths gather around a statue of C N Annuradai, gathering donated clothes and gobbling donated bread, Seepudupettai.
Photo Credit: Dilip D'Souza
The thing about great disasters that most fascinates me – inspires, repels, intrigues but always fascinates me – is the way people respond to them. There is tragedy, yes. But also, whether it is volunteers or victims, administrators or doctors – whoever they are, there are tales to tell, lessons to learn.
When talking about disasters, I often begin with two vignettes from tsunami-hit Tamil Nadu. The first, from a tiny village called Seepudupettai. Five days after the wave, I get there, walk around, speak to some of its still-stunned residents. Then I see an old woman. I see the old woman lift up a polyester dress. She holds it against herself, shakes her head and drops it back into the pile. No, it won’t fit. No, it’s not me. No, I don’t like polyester. No, I don’t wear dresses, I wear saris. No, not even a tsunami will make me want to wear someone else’s discard.
Romila Thapar addresses invitees at the
Southasian relaunch of Himal Southasian,
IIC, New Delhi, January 2013.
Flickr / girl.from.melbourne
An early monsoon
On June 16 2013, the India Meteorological Department confirmed the early arrival of monsoon rains across the whole of India. Full coverage was not expected until the middle of July, making farmers hopeful for a bumper crop.
From our archive:
C K Lal discusses the fixation of Southasia's political leaders with 'monumental waterworks.' (September 2007)
Somnath Mukherji explores the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that monsoon evokes. (June 2007)
Venu Madhav Govindu notes the 'fundamental importance' of a good monsoon for both city and rural dwellers. (August 2003)