On a recent business trip to India, I was stranded in Chennai because of massive flooding everywhere, including the airport, due to the worst rains the city has seen in the recent century. I shall skip the details of who, what, when, where, why and how I was trapped and escaped, but focus instead on what I felt during my time there.
The Rich vs The Poor
It was Day 3 since the heavy flooding started. I could see helicopters distributing food and water supplies both via the television and more acutely, from the window where I was staying. The news was reporting that many people (especially young children, elderly, and the sick) are trapped in the second floor or roof of their homes without access to food or clean water because their first floor is completely flooded. Electricity has also been cut to prevent electrocution.
However, for people staying in five-star hotels like I was, apart from the slight inconvenience of being unable to leave the hotel due to flooding of the roads, there were hardly any changes within the hotel. I still had the same five-star international cuisine buffet breakfast on Day 2 and it wasn’t until Day 3 that they started to reduce the variety, but it is still a King’s feast by emergency standards. Rooms were all fully stocked with bottled water and food, and we could still take baths with no disruptions. Save for the temporary switch to the backup generator, there was no interruption in electricity and we could use our laptops, sleep in our fluffy beds with the aircon running at full blast, and even use the gym.
In essence, life went on as normal within the hotel.
But step outside the hotel, and I might as well have been teleported to another dimension. The roads, strewn with rubbish, were still flooded, and there’s a sense of despondency in the air. There were many people standing along the roads, looking dazed and wandering aimlessly. Their houses have been flooded out and they have nowhere to go.
We are all in the exact same situation, at the exact same time, at the exact same place, but the difference in living conditions could not have been more different. The sole distinguishing factor: money.
While I have always known that the world have always been so – the rich over-consuming while the poor barely having enough to survive – but the impact of experiencing it firsthand has left a profound impression on me.
P.S.: The hotel stay was provided by the company I am working for. As of this writing, sadly, it seems like the situation there have not fully recovered. I hope that Chennai can overcome this soon.