The normally blue California skies are under a gray pall of gloom, as cold winter rain beats steadily against my window. A rude reminder, perhaps that even heavens are crying at the tragedy that has left us, a wounded planet. A planet submerged in the tears of those mourning hundreds of thousands dead, millions lives shattered, and a sense of grief that will envelope us for a long long time. How do you deal with it? Where is solace, where is hope?
Surprisingly, I found hope in Silicon Valley. Normally, I have accused technology industry of living in a digital utopia disconnected from the real world. Today I stand corrected. Last few days, I am proud to be part of the business which has so generously opened its hearts and wallets to come to the aid of the tsunami victims. Whether it is a $3 million pledge from Chairman Gates, Cisco or Apple or Amazon.com’s campaign to collect funds for those in most need, it is good to see that the industry has stepped up. Their efforts cannot hold a candle to the efforts of individuals, and bloggers who are doing their best to help fellow human beings. While the governments and bureaucrats waffled and tried to get relief efforts going, I am glad to see it is people helping people. In this sad tragedy I found hope for our planet.
Tonight many of you might have planned big festivities, spending hundreds of dollars on an expensive dinner or a jazz concert. How about not going out, spending time with your family and perhaps donating the money to those who need it more to just restart their life. Here is how you can help!
Meanwhile, my friend Jason Overdorf, who often writes for Newsweek International from New Delhi is out in Madras reporting. You can read the full findings of his trip over on his weblog, DelhiBelly.
In Chennai, where I did my reporting, the people who were affected almost all lived in illegal squatter colonies on the beach. In 1991, the government passed a law called the coastal regulation zone notification which mandated that nobody should build anything permanent within 500 meters of the highest high tide line. But because none of the poor can afford to rent apartments or buy land away from the coast, slums made of thatch huts mushroomed on the beaches anyway.