Inner & Outer Recovery from a Cyclone

It must be emphasized that to survive a cyclone physically is not all; to survive the inner trauma of it while it it is happening and after it has happened is another major challenge, and one that lingers on for as long as:
– either things have become again acceptable by being repaired, renewed, etc;
– or, much worse, one has become used to things being unacceptable, and one just accepts them being in that sorry condition for an indefinite period of time.
Finding myself since two months and a half in a ‘ Disaster Zone’, I understand better than ever how miserable and discouraged and bitter the people of Haiti can be, who more than a year after their horrendous earthquake still live under shabby tents with sorry sights of destruction still visible all around them and practically everywhere else they might go to on their island.
Here in Auroville and in the surrounding area of Tamil Nadu, South India, which has also been hit by the cyclone on December 29th, 2011, the disaster hasn’t been THAT severe, so we shouldn’t complain. But having the sight of destroyed trees everywhere, for us who have regenerated this land and planted these trees and cared for them since more than forty years, for all those weeks since end of December it has been hard not to hurt and cry inside.
But at least no one died, no one was even hurt, and destruction of buildings was rather rare, roofs only were gone or damaged,- mostly.
Lots of crops of all kinds were lost, though, and that too hurt.
Here in Repos itself, everything became suddenly bleak and colorless overnight. The bougainvilleas that normally form the fence of this place and are a riot of colors most pleasant to look at, were torn out of their roots on the full length of the beach side of Repos, probably by one or a few strong waves, some mini tsunamis, which also covered with a thirty centimeter thick layer of sand the whole half of the place, all along the shore. The torn out bougainvilleas had already turned all brown by the morning when dawn came and I discovered them in that terribly unusual position, powerfully pushed as if by some giant hand against my windows and walls downstairs, and in the same way against all the other buildings on the side of the ocean.

My house in itself was fine, except for some of the glass sliding panels that constitute the facade of my room upstairs.

The casualty I found out about last wasn’t the least: it was my beloved laptop, a little Apple ibook, ten years old but still going faithfully until the night of the cyclone: the next day, when I tried to start it, it wouldn’t work at all; and one week later the Auroville specialist I had given it to informed me that it was unrepairable: the mother board itself was the problem and for such an old model would be nearly impossible to find.
It is three personal donations by friends from abroad that have enabled me later on to replace that dear laptop I lost to the cyclone, after the Aurovilians at the Cyclone Help Desk had told me this kind of need (like also the repair of someone else’s bike crushed under a hut) couldn’t be covered and we would have to find funds ourselves.
When some funds did come, though, I realized that paradoxically Aurovilians working in the administration didn’t always see those specified donations as a good thing, but as the unfair result of egoistic and separatist fund-raising…

This was not true in our case: such specified donations often come spontaneously, without anybody having asked for it or done any  fund-raising; simply people around the world who happen to know and appreciate Auroville through some specific Aurovilians they have met and learnt about the work and place of; if they cannot or would not give for Auroville as a whole, at least they will give for those Aurovilians they have befriended. It was the case for the donations we were sent, and I don’t see any harm in this.

In other occasions, while some of us travel, we may mention to the people we meet some project or place or aspect of Auroville we are aware needs money, and later on when a specified donation comes for that project or place, nobody will even know that those Aurovilians were actually the origin of that donation. It has been the case for some of us in Repos, although we kept quiet about those individual spontaneous but successful efforts at actual fund-raising to help Auroville at large.

Most probably, even when it is not a disaster time, quite a lot of extra money comes in this way to Auroville, that is very useful in helping cover very legitimate needs that Auroville itself wouldn’t have had enough funds for.

When it happens, as it just did, that some donations come specified for us in Repos, which shows actually that some people elsewhere do appreciate this little place on the Auroville beach and want it to continue to exist and be able to welcome them again in the future, it feels really good.

We had been told earlier that Auroville couldn’t help us repair our guest-huts now or in the near future, as there wereso many more urgent needs to attend to; but in the specific case of Repos, where the guest-huts are the only source of income and where the very survival of the place depends on it, these unexpected donations coming in such a timely manner have been a total blessing, a divine Grace helping us out directly when Auroville couldn’t. Auroville should simply be happy about that, it seems to me.

After the first month finally electricity was restored to our place and the pumps started functioning again, which was just great as we could have running water again; in the meantime we had been very happy to have at least a few hand-pumps to draw water from… Some remarkable, adventurous guests – a young Indian couple from far away – had cheerfully braved the conditions and insisted to stay in the extra-room I have upstairs. For the ten days that they lived there with me, they remained cheerful like two real pioneers, in spite of the candle light and torchlight at night and the scarcity of water for all daily normal needs.

It was really comforting to have them around during that particularly difficult time, just like the two young and strong Italian guests who had deliberately stayed on like I did during the night of the cyclone, had become welcome companions in my house when their huts had finally given in to the fury of the elements. In the prudent absence of everyone else from the place, except the little family that lives slightly more inland, my house for the next three days remained a nice and almost comfortable Refugee Camp for the three of us:
During the cyclone, they helped keep in the right places the thick towels preventing the glass panels around the top of the staircase from being shattered to bits against the high granite posts that bar the way to thieves in my tall windows; then later on we worked together to dry the flooded floor downstairs; and still later  when daylight came back they ventured outside on foot among the fallen trees and the unusable roads everywhere, bringing back the food we all needed in our common refuge, and the first news we also longed to have of what had happened and was happening in the other parts of Auroville and surrounding region.
For communication wasn’t obvious:  no telephone lines any more, of course, and cell phones do need to be recharged after a while; my house, with the precious UPS and solar panels I have, has been for a few weeks the place where employees just like other Repos residents were all coming to recharge not only their cell phones but also their torch-lights and anything else of use in such emergency situations.
Being without a fence was the next ordeal, with hundreds of curious passers-by quickly turning into as many petty thieves in that welcome opportunity, if necessary breaking open the houses temporarily unoccupied to steal whatever seemed still in good enough condition. Because of the sudden administrative complications that soon interrupted the rebuilding of our fence by ourselves with the funds provided immediately by Auroville, only half of the fence is up yet; in the other half of the community we still find constantly Indian couples hidden in any propitious corner, or full groups of noisy men pick-nicking inside the compound in the pleasant shade of the remaining huts and cheerfully littering the whole area with the beer and various other alcohol bottles that made them drunk, plus the empty aluminum containers and  colored plastic bags that before contained their food – the smell immediately brings crows and dogs to fight about the left-overs, and with the help of the wind the obnoxious plastic bags end up in no time at all everywhere in Repos, a particularly ugly sight.
At night obviously the poor watchman does what he can, but mostly sleeps, desperate in front of the impossible task falling on him: to guard several hundred meters of still unfenced Repos perimeter on the beach side… with several areas inside not properly lit again yet and not easy to cross, with all the piled up branches or pieces of trunks still lying here and there on the ground and providing ideal hiding spots to would be thieves – or, even worse for the watchman: snakes.
I have made my peace finally with the Divine Will that allowed that relative catastrophe to happen to Auroville, but at the beginning my heart was just torn and mute with shock and consternation. Although personally I didn’t have much to  complain about, for several long weeks I felt so much pain seeing all that apparently absurd destruction all over Auroville, I couldn’t even talk inwardly to the Divine as I usually do all the time.
This is why, even though since fifteen days I have had again a means – my new, mini-laptop – to go on at last with this interrupted blog, I didn’t do it. I kept silent. Now I feel all right again, healed somehow, and able to start speaking meaningfully about it all: blogging doesn’t seem too much of a luxury any longer, I am coming back to meet again those of you who might still want to follow this Research blog of mine, this blog on Conscious Evolution, whatever the outer circumstances…    

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jackie Paulson
    Mar 11, 2012 @ 18:04:45

    Wow amazing story you really know how to write well…



    • Bhaga
      Mar 12, 2012 @ 10:49:28

      Just went to your blog… and loved your ‘Hearts, hearts, hearts’ little story in pictures!



    • Bhaga
      Mar 12, 2012 @ 10:52:40

      What I wrote down below was actually my first answer to your kind comment, but I hit the wrong button and so it doesn’t appear as a reply to you, but as another comment altogether, sorry about that…



  2. Bhaga
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 07:22:04

    Well, thank you very much for your so positive comments about both the contents and the style of this post, but actually I am quite French, my mother tongue is French, and i am only writing as best I can in English for this blog as it is the language most readers will understand, rather than French!… I am very glad and proud if now it seems to you that I “really know how to write well”…!!! 😀
    I’ll go and check your own blog as soon as I can, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it yet.



  3. Explorations in Sacred Space
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:08:10

    … and Bhaga, you have spoken meaningfuly and beautifully. Thank you for sharing this experience with us that we may all have compassion for people caught up in acts of nature. You are right about how things must effect the people in Haiti.

    Holding you and heart and prayer for healing and community.

    Jamie Dedes



    • Bhaga
      Mar 15, 2012 @ 04:54:18

      Thank you very much, Jamie!
      And in the meantime I also remembered the people of Japan, those hit by both an earthquake and a tsunami… all compounded by a nuclear leak on top of it!!! My heart really went out to them then, but probably even in Japan they didn’t manage to make that area truly livable yet again, so the population there must be still feeling rather bad… *sigh*



  4. Bhaga
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 13:27:22

    To Jamie still:
    What a beautiful way to put it…



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