The Third Place

Author – Vignesh

Everyone likes to lament about how life was simple when they were a child and how it only got more complicated as they turned into an adult. All of us would have come across someone saying ‘It was just me studying in school, playing cricket in the playground and then back to home! Ah, wish I could go back to the simpler times!’. Truth is life is still the same three things. Like the school, the playground and the house, all of our life still falls into three categories. We just don’t bother to sort them into three distinct parts and project it to be too obscure when it truly isn’t.
Town planning principles and urban designers have to rely on a basic concept that dictates how people use space. All of us live in just three places.

The first being workplace where you spend your time exercising your skills in exchange for money that enables you to make a living. Horrible bosses, and dirty politics between team mates or simply hating the job you got could make you hate this place. It’s very important that you choose a field of work that you have a reasonable interest on and work in it whole heartedly. Choosing such field is not difficult in this age when you have source of inspiration everywhere! Inspiration to become a sports player, a car racer or even a cop are plenty out there from movies to coaching centre advertisements. What you do and how you feel in your workplace gives you a sense of purpose in life, and it keeps it going.

Second place is your home. It’s the place where you don’t have to put on a mask, a place where you can put no effort towards anything and feel comfortable lying in bed, eating the usual food thinking about nothing at all. It’s your bed, your room, the place where you sleep sound, the kitchen where you cook while listening to your playlist worrying about, of course, your next day at work. Horrible neighbours, rodents and the wrong person you’re married to could make this part of your life undesirable. Sure, it is common to hate your workplace. Its common to stare at the calendar and inch your way towards the weekend but it’s highly uncommon to detest your home, the second place.

Birds mate and build nest. So do mammals. They all get territorial and sexual. We are no different. These two things are all your parents talk about. ‘What job are you going to get? How much will you earn? How soon should you marry? What kind of family should you marry into?’ You’ve heard of all this. These two places of your life are hence very important. Hospitals, railway stations, school, college campus, banks, any government or private organisation buildings where people go to work and those that make up a developing city falls under ‘the first place’. The residential zones on the other hand, the nest we build for ourselves and live inside with our family like a pair of birds protecting their eggs will come under ‘the second place’.

Well, the most overlooked part that is facing major challenges nowadays is ‘the third place’. The cricket ground of our adult lives. What’s the third placed that you go to other than the classroom and your hostel? It is the café, the restaurant, the cinema or the newly opened Max or the usual spot for the fashion shopping spree that you go to. It’s the mall where you meet up with your friends, the park or the beach depending on where you live. It’s the tea shop, the cafeteria in the first floor of your office where you talk about your favourite movie star or about who’s dating whom or what Modi did was right or wrong. It’s the central perk from FRIENDS. Whatever you talk in this place usually dictates your social life. Think about it. The most important fights, realizations and reconciliations you had with your friends and even your ex must have happened in some public recreational place.
What defines a third place? If a person from Chennai enjoys having the beach as the go to meeting spot with his/her friends and a person from Bangalore has parks or malls, what makes the third place? The one thing that’s common between all third places is that you go there and spend money. Malls, cinema theatres and parks all have small shops for snack food, right? Going by that logic any place you go for shopping is a third place. Even the super market where you buy your groceries, the market where you neither work nor sleep qualifies to be the third place. If no one in your family is a doctor and you visit the clinic or the dentist, it becomes ‘the third place’. It’s basically everything else other than your work place or home. The age of the internet has now become a serious threat to this part of our lives. How? Silk and cotton traders used to bring the latest clothes they made to the market, greet their customers with a ears wide smile, offer complimentary foods, gifts and what not. For consumers, visiting clothing stores for Sarees and Dhotis before Diwali in on itself was a one-day trip with family. Both meet up in one location: The market street. These streets were the locations where sellers and consumers meet each other and exchange goods and money. You see where I’m going with this. Online fashion sites removed this place from existence. From theatre chain owners’ growing concern and fear over online streaming services to every other apps like BYJU, ZOMATO, FACEBOOK and other fitness-based applications removing the needs of cinema theatres, schools, restaurants and gyms, we can see the pattern. Although, that’s the virtual world the internet promised us. There will be teachers and students but no schools, and there will be doctors and patients but no hospitals. The USA and many other western countries are facing a massive closing down of a large number of malls in a short period just like how commercial markets and bazaars in India are recently observing dull crowds even during the Diwali week with disappointment. These ‘third places’ are put into question as to their purpose of existence, thus in a way the existence of a city or the urban culture itself. All of this is just an observation. Clearly, these kinds of online sites and apps generate revenue, so no one’s complaining. But is it comforting? Is it comforting to be one of the hunter-gatherer species and receive food on delivery without moving? Is it comforting to not go shopping for a whole day with your family as a pre-Diwali or pre-Christmas ritual but simply scroll down pictures on your phone?
Steam engine trains enabled mass transportation of goods thus encouraging large scale production, thereby kick-starting the first industrial revolution through transportation. Electricity meant that we could make machines to do the mass production and so we got conveyor belts and robots taking away the jobs of the daily wage workers. The third industrial revolution is the beginning of the digital era. This revolution that came rushing to the early 90’s India was the reason why we got banks. Can you imagine a bank lending home loans and maintaining your account safely without computers? These banks lending loans for most of India is the reason why we grew as an economy without mismanaging information of such a large number of participants. The challenge to the existence of ‘the third place’ discussed so far is only the effect of the fourth industrial revolution. Digital era is not the same as the age of internet that we have now. Back then you had to sit on a desk and wait for minutes to have the CPU boot. The amount of time an average person spends in front of the screen was limited to a couple of hours. Now we spend the whole day in front of the phone screen, so it’s not the same. This time, the jobs are not only taken away, the whole of infrastructure is threatened. Should we stop it? No. Is it the right direction that we are going? Only time can tell.

Losing sleep

Author – Afreen Ahmed

The scream, the purest song of the soul
Unconquered monsters in your mind
Can’t bury your demons, a twist of the blade
Gets under your skin, a tempest wild.

Run away, there’s no calm before the storm
You won’t see, your reflection looks back at you
The song of sirens, a dirge of a million voices
Pulls you down into the darkness of the blue.

Fire burn, cauldron bubble, the blood moon rises
Fear, your imagination plays tricks on you
The trees bleed, the sky turns scarlet
More than just shadows, they come for you.

Save your tears, open eyes seek you out
Scratches on the wall, caged inside
Tear down the ceiling, must make it out alive
Your worst nightmares, buy a ticket, join the ride.

A small dose of art

Author – Aditi Chandrasekar

Art ,in its traditional sense, can sometimes be conspicuous by its absence in our daily lives. So it can be pleasant to stumble across some thought-provoking pieces occasionally. Here are two interesting art pieces I came across today.

Conviction by Gigi Scaria

This was one of the pieces put up in Gigi Scaria’s art exhibition ‘Ecce Homo’. This exhibition presented a bleak future that is, in some ways, already in our present-the whole exhibition itself felt like a bunch of singular pieces that didn’t quite come together for a larger narrative which portrayed a feeling of anxiety. In his book ‘Ecce home’, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche addresses the necessity to create ‘redemptive’ men-this comes to mind when we look at Scaria’s conviction, a set of three paintings depicting torsos. The protagonists open up their shirts to expose their chests possibly imitating Hanuman’s episode in the Ramayana where he rips his heart to reveal the image of Lord Ram and Sita. Scaria shows up no gods in his work but we are instead confronted by the symbols for pause and play-the figures require external forces to activate their beliefs.

That quiet corner by Yardena Kurulkar

This art piece in Yardena Kurulkar’s installation ‘So it goes’, consists of a cast iron structure that looks like a tomb pretending to be a bed. That quiet corner was born out of an attempt to capture the effect of death in the spaces that surround it. Yardena laid down amongst the tombstones in a Jewish cemetery to capture the world around her. While she did point the camera up at the sky, the lens bent the world around her allowing the tombstones to peek into the picture. Instead of a mattress on the “bed”, there is a 3D form of her skull unraveled to be laid flat on a 2D surface, superimposed on the image she captured at the cemetery. This is a piece that embodies Kurulkar’s whole show as it is a bit overwhelming, and leads to interrogations about death.

Faith

 

Author- Divyang Arora

There is no liberation, no?
The smoke that surrounds us, with no end.
The pit that we are falling in, with no bottom.
The stink, that no perfume can cover up.
The lock doesn’t have a key
and the prison, it doesn’t have a door
The hope, exists only in our minds.
The saviour, only in our dreams.
The soul stays famished
and the heart, littered.
Not broken. No. Only littered. Spread. Confused. Wild.
There’s a difference.
The mind, it’s not allowed to roam, is it?
The essence of it, wrapped in a bottle
when it should have been the one littered.
The world stands inverted
and the sky, crushing upon me.

But maybe.

Maybe the smoke clouds light
light with age old dust swimming in it, but light indeed.
Light from a hole
and maybe the hole is in a door
Maybe the pit has no bottom
because I am shooting to the sky, amidst stars.
Maybe the stink, is just my nose acting up
Maybe the lock is already open,
and the door is just shut for me to grab the handle.
Maybe I have been standing on the other side of the prison bars,
foolish enough to only look straight.
A lot of maybes they are,
but the hope has a spark of fire to it
hidden in the burnt debris and ashes.
Maybe it’s all in my head,
but why should that mean that it’s not real?
One only needs to stand down with his faith
and remember,
that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times
if one only remembers, to turn on the light.
And maybe, I think as I excite myself,
the saviour is no one but me.

Fair Fashion

Author- Aditi Chandrasekar

When people think of plastic, they rarely think of their clothes, However, be it the sequined tank top thrown away after being worn to one party, or the micro-plastic fibres that are released while washing our clothes, the things we adorn our bodies with are slowly destroying our planet by adding to the threateningly high plastic accumulation. The fashion industry is eroded by sizeable issues, ranging from factory workers’ conditions, to the psychological weight that the demanding industry throws on models; so it’s no surprise that its (albeit, big) contribution to polluting the environment often goes unnoticed. Polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fibers-all of which are forms of plastic-make up a scary majority of the material in our clothes, owing to its cheap cost and easy abundance. Thankfully, awareness about our fashion footprint on the environment has grown exponentially, over the past decade. Fast fashion brands have been called out on their unfair practices promoting clothing waste, global consumers are collectively making more conscious decisions when it comes to their clothing choices and habits. and more eco-friendly brands are coming to the spotlight. One such home-grown brand is ‘Bodice Studio’, founded by Ruchika Sachdeva in Delhi. Bodice Studio’s focus on sustainability and technological innovation makes it a trailblazer in India’s journey towards sustainability. Ruchika studied fashion design at the prestigious London College of Fashion, which boasts of industry giants Jimmy Choo and Patrick Cox as some of its notable alumni. But it was only after her ‘International Woolmark Prize’ win, that she started her slow fashion brand. Her merino wool masterpieces, which won her the coveted prize, were inspired by her grandmother’s habit of up-cycling old saris into quilts. From the cloth materials and dyes used all the way to the application and everything in between, the clothes were so thoughtfully made, that simply reading about it made me ashamed of the ignorant attitude I usually employ towards my clothes. Even the buttons on Ruchika’s pieces were made from the waste generated from a South Indian toymaker’s practice-out of coconut shell and wood. Bodice Studio, since its inception, has been breaking barriers of the sustainable fashion domain. Ikkivi, Brass Tacks and Doodlage (among many more), are other clothing brands that are leading the sustainable fashion movement in India. So this plastic-free month, you don’t need to splurge on these brands’ products or attempt to make clothes for yourself out of cashmere wool and silk. Doing anything small you can- like, repairing damaged clothes instead of dumping them, or discussing the issues that fast fashion brings about can make a significant impact, and there’s no denying that it soothes your conscience as well!

Too many mouths

Author – Vignesh

‘So, while I’m here being confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m really nervous about…..Loud and proud, right? So, I’m going to need your support on this….’ It was 2013 Golden Globes awards. A famous Hollywood actor standing on the stage along with fellow actor Robert Downey Jr. as a hall full of famous figures sit and watch her fidgeting ‘I..am…’ she holds the mike as well as her breathing, as the crowd leans to the edge of their seats expectantly. ‘single’ she says and the hall erupts in laughter. This was Jodie Foster trying to explain that she indeed was homosexual, yet shying away from even uttering the word ‘gay’. Today we know that the USA and the rest of the world which includes India has come so far.

TEDx Talks releases a video on Youtube on November 16, 2016, named Homosexuality: It’s about survival-not sex. The speaker: Dr James O’Keefe MD tries to justify that same-sex marriage and being gay was only nature’s response to the overpopulation of humans. He says ‘You all have gay genes in you!’ as the crowd gets really uncomfortable. He goes on to say that homosexuality is not against nature but rather a part of natural selection. A loving couple that doesn’t reproduce but takes care of its herd is exactly what an overpopulated planet like ours needs and that nature knows it.

On 15th March 2019, Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who the media describes as a white supremacist walks into a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and guns down 51 Muslims. Minutes before his attack, he posted a 74-page declaration text that serves as a “justification” for his act whose details were disturbing and bizarre. He details that all the environmental problems that we face including global warming were a consequence of overpopulation and the world is in a desperate need of population control. The reason why chose a mosque was because, in his own belief, Muslims were the ‘highly fertile’ group. So why is a well thought out and a profound doctor and a terrorist worry about the same thing? Overpopulation is a recent concern that is brought up by endless pop culture releases in different media, from the books like Dan Brown’s The inferno to the movies like Kingsman and of course, Avengers: Infinity war but is it really a problem?

population bomb.jpg

The whole argument that too many mouths to feed equals a problem hinges on the fact that we have limited food. Any resource is professed to be a zero-sum which is the concept that anything that is gained on the consumer’s side is lost by the other side: the source, that is the planet that provides us with the resources. It’s not wrong to think that way. After all, with the water crisis that our country is facing right now and we are told that there is only a constant volume of water existing on our planet and we are running out of it.

It still begs the question: have we really understood the problem though?  Yes, there’s no denying that an increase in demand at a short period of time calls for attention but is population control really the solution? Well, no.

There is another resource that we are running out of. Fossil fuel. We have fuel rates increasing and the government to put the blame on. After all the cold wars and the fight against terrorism paraded by the USA in order to obtain control over oil for years. Now, all that has settled down a bit and now the talk is shifted towards making Electric Vehicles and how to pioneer a way to be oil – independent. Statements that water will be the resource that the countries would be fighting each other for in World War 3, not oil have gained attraction. It is intriguing to think that both oil and water are limited. Yet, the fight for oil has settled down a bit. How did that happen? That is because, while in a technical sense resources are limited, they are really not.

We used lamp oils derived from seeds of canola, sunflower and in extreme cases, by killing whales from the oceans to light our homes. We had our existing populations do the heavy lifting such as moving wheels and machinery, that mined coal which in turn powers up printing machines that would imprint news texts on papers made out of uprooted trees to pass information. Did that lead to an inevitable doom? Did the trees and whales go extinct as the population exploded? The truth is, what we call resources is only limited by our very own imagination. Anything has value only we value them. If we just start to think differently, we may never run out of resources.

In the year 1879, Thomas A. Edison takes credit for inventing the bulb which turns electric energy into that of light. Transistors are invented by American physicists Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley right after World War 2. Now, we have the unlimited source of electromagnetic waves that power up industries and offices letting people work 24/7 through electricity and the transistors revolutionising the same industry with computer electronics and automated machines as well as of course, the smartphones we use to share information. We didn’t stick to the papers or the oil lamps. We innovated. We developed. More population doesn’t mean just more mouths to feed, it also means more minds to think and more hands to work. The real solution to the problem of overpopulation is not genocide or homosexuality, it is, after all, education. Enabling the existing population to think or work is enough to find new resources as we go.

Have you ever heard of the meme that everything in the world is invented by Indians? The invention of diodes followed by that of transistors was by Jagadeesh Chandra Bose. The invention of ‘zero’ of course is credited to Aryabhata. Endless new areas on mathematics unexplored to this day were claimed by Srinivasa Ramanujan. Even the advances in optical fibre technology, on which the today’s internet run on owes the fundamental optics starting scattering effect of light, a phenomenon that was first discovered by Sir C V Raman. Why is it that all the groundbreaking ideas originate from the land that is the second most populated? Countries around the world are making new efforts to eradicate carbon-emitting businesses. India is pushing its automobile industries to make electric vehicles as it is seen to be the future. A future that is independent of oil. Engineers are looking for new ways to produce fresh water every day in labs through researches. The future is not dark. Apocalypse is not nigh as long as there are researches, universities, labs and funds. It’s us, the students who think, create new ideas and innovate!

Profanity: why we need it

It was Friday, I was visiting my home as I do every three weeks or so. It was my bad luck that this time I didn’t get a window seat but the train journey was only two hours. As I didn’t get a window to look outside at, I was peeking at the person sitting next to me as one does. She was watching Game of Thrones on her phone. I cursed myself for not charging my mobile beforehand. With twenty-three percent, I can only listen to songs. Soon enough, my eyes went back to her phone screen shamelessly. It was the Battle of Black-water episode, a brilliant one yet my instincts went alarming. ‘This one has nudity in it! Like a lot of it!’ I remembered immediately and looked around.

Naturally, the person sitting next to her, a man in his forties was peeking just like me. As expected, the scene came up and I was curious what she would do. She kept watching not minding the next person.  I observed that man who noticed a college girl watching nude scenes in a public place and he gave the most judgmental look I’ve ever seen. The awkwardness went away as soon as the episode moved on to the action scene.

Smiling at the situation I put on my headphones. I was listening to Eminem, a rap singer who curses a lot to express emotions. My parents used to give a similar look when I listen to him on loudspeaker, so I had to switch to headphones. Grown ups were always hypocritical about youngster’s line of interests.

The train reached the destination and I took a rickshaw, got down at the edge of my street and walked home.

Usually the street looks alive filled with children playing hide and seek or badminton. I was one among those children a few years back until studies became a priority. Although, this Friday the street was unusually dead. There were no playing kids, no one was around.

After entering my place, having some food and rest, passing some time, I looked at the street again. It was still deserted. I asked my mother as to why there were no children playing. ‘Oh, you didn’t know? Lakshmi, from the next building died yesterday. It was a suicide’ she broke the news

‘What?! How?!’ I asked shaken

‘She had to write Quarterly exam the next day. Her parents were in the AC room while she was studying in the hall or at least that’s what they thought she was doing.  The next morning, they woke up, they saw her hanging by her mother’s….’ My mother went on to explain the details

‘Yeah, okay I get it. Stop’ I stopped her as I felt the back of my neck thinning and filling with uneasiness. ‘I used to play with her’

‘She studied Eleventh standard, in your school only. Your school is infamous for students ending up like this under stress, you have no idea how concerned I was when you were there’ my mother explained but I had to disagree immediately ‘My teachers are nothing like that! I mean, there was stress, anxiety and problems but…’ I wanted to argue but I couldn’t finish the sentence. I wasn’t able to tell her exactly how I didn’t end up killing myself even though I too had my fair share of dark days.

That night I couldn’t sleep but think and wonder, what would’ve happened to her to make her take that decision and why something like that didn’t occur to me.  I remember my first day in eleventh standard, my new maths teacher gave an introductory class of maths in general and he took an example sum of infinite series. He explained how one could easily get the answer for nine plus ninety-nine plus nine hundred and ninety-nine and so on. When I walked out of the class after it ended on my way to home, I looked at a BMW car and it’s hot engine, I looked at beautiful house where a gardener was watering the plants that had roses of different colors and all of them melted into the number nines, the infinite nines all crowded and standing in my way like a giant spider made of nine’s.

‘All of this? That car, that house, that garden. I can get all of this only if I go through this complicated maths?’ I thought, confused, stressed. ‘Did my mother and father go through this so that they can feed me? Is there no other way?’ I asked myself as the thought of finishing the assignment before the deadline was killing me. It was almost like Math was choking me and telling me I am the weakest person in the world.

I grew up in the same school for the first ten years with the same set of friends but I had to join the bigger school because the IIT coaching there was better. Being the new fish for the first time in my life didn’t help either. I had to face bullies for the whole first year and deal with them.

Thinking back about all of this in my bed that night made me wonder how, how did I get through all of that?

The age of 16 is very confusing. You are not an adult yet but you’re not a child anymore either. You use curse words or talk about sex, it’s inappropriate. You talk about free things that come along with Kellogg’s Chocos or dolls you wanted to have, that’s inappropriate too.  I remember seeing a video of a baby when given a candy or a favorite toy, the baby would stand up and clap its hands in excitement while jumping up and down. The same baby would cry aloud spitting everywhere and agitate in frustration if the same toy or candy is taken away. There is no shame is saying that adults come across similar situation all the time but crying or jumping as you clap is seen as straight up bad behavior. Well, for a person who’s sixteen and has been treated as a child up until that point, he or she have been expressing their emotions one way all this time, now they’re expected to express it another way but are never shown or taught how. Continue reading

We are all responsible.

2017

It was a partially sunny day. The wind was strong but there was no rain yet. Joshua was waiting in the queue with his KTM RC 390 in a petrol bunk somewhere on the East Coast Road twenty kilometres away from Chennai.

‘Last year, around this time, it was sixty-six rupees per litre! I remember it very distinctly’ Joshua said frustratedly.

Vicky, sitting behind him, replied ‘Now it’s eighty-one per litre. I know’

‘Greedy rich shareholders and spineless government’ Joshua cursed.

‘If the fuel was cheaper, what would have happened? ‘Vicky asked.

‘We would’ve visited Pondicherry more often, have fun more often’, Joshua replied.

Vicky sighed with a smile, ‘Yeah, but you would have turned more fuel into greenhouse gases. You will be contributing more to the climate change that’s happening. Any commodity that is harmful to the environment should be costly. That’s the only way you would use it less’, he explained

Joshua moved the vehicle forward as the queue moved and then he turned to Vicky ‘I agree Mister Civil Engineer. Enough with your environmental advice’ he jested.

 

It was unusually a sunny day in a developing locality somewhere in Ernakulam district, Kerala. Mohan Raj was looking around the construction site for the Senior Engineer. ‘Engineer Sir!!’ He greeted him outside the construction site.

The Engineer came walking through the busy site among the brick workers and cement heaps all over the place. ‘Hello sir!’ he greeted back ‘How are you sir? How is Chechi?’

‘All are doing well! My wife also came to the town with me, actually!’ Mohan replied as the both walked towards the nearby tea spot ‘Now she is in her brother’s house here’.

‘Oh, okay sir’ The engineer replied ‘Two glass tea! Both strong!’ he ordered as the both sat down on the old wooden bench painted blue.

Mohan Raj took out a bunch of affidavit papers from the file holder he carried. ‘I have brought all the originals and xerox of the approval certificates sir! All the approval work is done and I brought it as you asked.’

The Engineer checked the papers ‘Okay sir. The work will be complete within two months. Your Resort will be ready!’ he promised

‘Two glasses of strong tea!’ The chai maker called.

The Engineer took the glasses and gave one to Mohan ‘So, are you leaving Bangalore after the Resort is opened sir?’  he asked.

‘No, no’ Mohan laughed ‘I work in public sector sir! I can’t just leave the job. My wife’s side of the family will take care of the resort. Her brother will oversee the hotel’

‘Oh, okay’ The engineer sipped the tea

‘Sir, the materials used in foundation are effective, no? The final cost is less than estimated which is good, but still’, Mohan asked.

‘Sir, there are no land slides reported in this locality for the past fifty years. It’s just one floor building, there nothing to worry!’ The Engineer sounded confident

‘What about the drain?’ Mohan asked

‘I suggested typical Kerala style roof, but you wanted flat roofs. All the rain will reach the ground as per my design and moreover your hotel is built in a land area that is slightly higher compared to the neighborhood, and the rainfall is getting lesser every year, there will be no flooding problem even if you ask for it!’ The Engineer replied with a laugh

‘You can’t be sure about the rainfall with all the Climate change and global warming sir’ Mohan said worried.

 

2018

Vicky focused his phone camera. The pottery wheel spun round and round as his grandmother pressed her four fingers tightly on the clay to bring the pot into shape. He was finally spending his vacation in his native as he wanted.

‘Throw the phone away!’ she said annoyed

Vicky pressed the ‘add to story’ button and slipped the phone in his pocket.

His grandmother held his hand and pulled it towards the clay. ‘Wet your hands with the clay! Don’t assume it’s dirty. Clay is not dirty!’

‘I know Aachi, I study Civil Engineering!’ Vicky said smiling as he pressed the edge of the clay.

‘We have to bring it to shape as fast as we can. Soon the sun will dry the clay, and when it dries it will be strong as a stone!’ she exclaimed

‘So, then wet it more. If you add more water, it will take longer time to dry’ told Vicky’s little sister sitting next to them painting dried out pots.

Vicky was curious what answer his grandmother would give.

‘It doesn’t work like that! The soil is strong without water, it is weak, out of shape and can be molded when you add a little water, the more water you pour the clay itself will become watery and flow away’ she replied

‘That’s exactly what my Soil Mechanics sir told!  So it applies to all soil.Not just clay!’ Vicky said stunned.

‘So, if you pour more water, all the soil will erode like water? Even all the sand in my school ground?’ Vicky’s sister asked

Vicky was lost in thoughts ‘All you need is to pour more water’ he thought.

 

Mohan Raj was standing there not knowing how to answer his wife. He kept on calling to the phone number of the Engineer, but the number was unreachable. He was nowhere to be seen.

His wife was sitting in the corner along with her mother in the corner of her native house crying out loud, mourning in the pain of loss. In the middle of the all the crowd of relatives that surrounded, was the body of her brother wrapped up and ready to be taken

The unusually heavy flood that hit Kerala didn’t exempt Mohan’s brother-in-law. The ground level of the Resort building which was higher than the neighborhood dissolved into eroding soil and moved the Resort building along with its shallow foundation causing the single floor building to collapse. There were no guests at that time. Only two servants and Mohan’s brother in law.

If the authorities didn’t approve the construction, if the Engineer wasn’t that dumb, would the dead be alive?

If there was no climate change, if there was no such unusually record-breaking rainfall this year, would all the built-up structures that have collapsed be saved? Can we even blame anyone in particular?

The severe rainfall was two and half times the usual rainfall and it’s the highest recorded in the last hundred and eleven years. The Indian government was formed only seventy-two years ago while the state of Kerala was formed sixty-three years ago. Although the causality was not dangerously high, the property damage is about twenty thousand crore which the people of Kerala cannot recover from for years to come. This year’s flood is one of the obvious phenomena that happened as the direct result of Climate change, the human induced climate change. We are all equally responsible to take care of our planet and all of its changes and challenges.
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