Post Cyclone Pondicherry

Everyone is working so hard to deal with the destruction caused by the cyclone. the first task was to clear a strip down the middle of each street so that cars and people could move about. this took almost all the first day, although many of the streets were impossible for everyday people to deal with as the trees were so huge and un-movable. the already crowded roads (people, carts, bicycles, trucks, cars, cows, dogs, beggars etc) were all squeezed into these small passageways and we only went out as necessary. each day there are more and more passable streets, big trucks have now been brought in to be filled with tons of broken branches and trucks.

the wide walkway and road that runs along the sea was covered with 3-6 inches of beach sand and dirt and in the ensuing hot sunny days has become a very hard and packed surface. all day long groups of women are bending over and hammering at the packed dirt with rocks to break away little pieces and then haul them over to the beach and throw them back in. it is taking so long – the stretch is about 1.5 km long and each day about 30 feet more is cleared. meantime, cars are packing it down in the day and the hundreds of people that still come out in the evenings and stroll along the sea are packing it too.  it will be weeks before this stretch is cleared of its debris.

yesterday we walked our usual route to the internet cafe and noticed that the streets were being cleared – which is wonderful – and —- that the shade is gone. these treelined streets were so beautiful and cool as the green branches arched over us. now they are barren and hot and dry. everything and everyone has been affected by the damage. the birds are fighting for a place in the reduced availability, the plants that once grew protected from the sun are being burned and blackened, the people who usually bring food and services from the outlying villages are not coming in and I suspect it is because of their home situation.  we have been told that the tsunami ‘missed’ Pondicherry but this cyclone has caused damage and devastation that has never been seen and that will take years to recover from. we are so grateful that we did get 10 days here to enjoy the meditation hall, the peaceful atmosphere, the conversations we have had with people of all walks of life and the quiet time to study and relax.

David and Kelley, who were in Auroville when the cyclone hit still do not have power and it is expected that it will not return for weeks. Most of the roads are still blocked by trees and there is only one place where they can eat (they are running their own power and cook on propane). The places they were volunteering have no power and no work is bring done there. OVer 70% of the trees have been damaged or uprooted. the crops of cashews, coconuts and spices have been ruined. the buildings have sustained wind and water damage. 50 years ago when this village was born, this area was a barren wasteland. over time and with much effort from people from all over the world it was transformed into a lush, vibrant and productive community. over one million trees were planted and everything has been designed to preserve and protect the environment. to hear that so many of these trees and work has been damaged is very sad.

In light of the situation there they decided that they would move into Pondicherry and that we would all leave for Mysore a few days earlier as this situation is not likely to change for some time.

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