Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Of Tsunamis et al

I am one of those people who believe strongly that an individual can never be bigger than an organisation. The power of collective effort always supercedes individual brilliance. I also believe that not all people truly appreciate the value of synergy. No, I am not trying to throw together a few catchwords in order to sound impressive. This is something I have really experienced.
The reason all this is coming back to me is be cause of the recent disaster that has struck South-East Asia. The quake and the tsunami have wrecked havoc that has hitherto been unseen by anyone. I still remember the Bhuj quake and the impact it had in our lives. However these 2 tragedies had very different effects on my life.
In 2001, I was preparing for my 12th standard exams, as well as for IITJEE, in Calcutta, which was the other end of the country. Despite my other commitments and otherwise busy schedule, I still found that talking, thinking and doing something about the quake victims did occupy a significant position in my life.
Now nearly four years later, I am in Chennai, close to the scene of action. I am on vacation with seriously nothing to do. Yet despite countless phone calls to NGOs I still haven’t found anything I could contribute except for cash! Not that I wouldn’t give that, just that I would like to give more.
When I was in school, I was part of this much-abused organisation called Interact- the student wing of Rotary International. In the 4 years I was associated with it, I participated in various projects- from visiting cancer victims, orphanages, old-age homes, raising funds through innovative schemes, organizing health camps… it was all very enriching. True most people used Interact to socialize, make money and conduct fests, but then there was a wonderful avenue for students to contribute to society and understand their duties towards those less privileged. I understand that this social responsibility is being overlooked nowadays – but I don’t want to get into that.
Let me quit digressing and get to the point. Last night I was thinking of all the projects that could have been undertaken in order to help the tsunami victims if only my Interact club was here in Chennai. For starters we could go on a mammoth collection drive for clothes, medicines etc. (we once collected nearly 500 kgs of newspaper in 2 hrs). That is the most rudimentary thing though. The forte of Interact lies in raising money through fun. Since its New Year, we could book a pub/nightclub, sell passes, and donate the proceeds. Movie shows with tickets at a premium are another easy way of raising money. We could also sell merchandise with messages – form t-shirts to coffee mugs for the purpose.
The most important aspect is that the people who are giving should not feel that they are giving too much and that people who are involved in collecting should never feel like they are begging for alms.
But any sort of relief effort must be hands on. So it’s important that there are enough people around to help rebuild the houses that have been destroyed and help the displaced to re-establish roots.
Any support that is purely material is, I believe completely immaterial. I know this from experiences of this little orphanage that our Interact club had a tie-up with. We didn’t offer them much in terms of financial support, but we did go to spend time with them on weekends. To sing and dance with them, play games… and that I know meant far more than clothes and food- that could come from anywhere.
Even today I know that what I really want to be able to do is to go spend time with those who have lost their loved ones and share their grief. I want to help them to recover from this tragedy that has hurt them by experiencing it first hand. And that should not be a one-off effort. It needs to be a sustained process, where there will be someone who can see them each week and monitor their condition- for believe me, these wounds will not heal soon.
It is impossible for someone like me – and I have no qualms in admitting this – to dedicate themselves 24/7 to this task. The only way to maintain some sort of continuity in our efforts is by making it an organizational effort. That way people shall have the reassurance that X group of people can be counted upon.
I know there is nothing new in what I am writing. But the reason I am writing it is because I feel lonely and incapable of doing something to gain the trust of those stricken by this disaster. Because I cannot as an individual assure them that my undying dedication to their cause shall take priority over everything else in my life.
I know my limitations, but I know my abilities as well. So all I am hoping for is an opportunity to do my best.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

long time no blog....

i know i havent posted anything in like a century.. but thats coz o technical problems more than anything else..

this is just to confirm that this blog is still alive.. shall surely add blogging everyday to my now evergrowing list of new year resolutions!!!

for a teaser - here are the top 5:

1. no sugar in my tea/coffee - a very learned prof told me that this is the best way to ensure i have no problems with my blodd sugar level when i approach 50. that and the fact that my family has a long drawn history of diabetes...

2. i shall learn to enjoy draught beer - simply coz i am in blre for the next 6 months and will surely end up pubbing a lot.. its the cheapest thng on the menu u see!!

3. gonna learn to drive - will need that at gurgaon

4. master the art of microwave cooking.. my mom's got me a new one - and i plan to seriously use it for purposes other than heating food and making pop corn..

5. walk around blre- i seriously believe thats the best way to enjoy the city but haven't found anyone to give me company yet.

6. save money - very very difficult proposition - but am gonna do it

thats a bak grounder - whole list to follow