My first documentary film on Cuddalore environmental issues. It was a great experience for me. I learnt so much during my travel and interaction with people in Cuddalore. Leading a daily life in Cuddalore is really a big task. LINK for the documentary:
Today shunning all
my laziness, I took a bold step to cycle all the way from my home to
office. Mustering courage I peddled a few steps from Tiruvanmiyur signal
to Adyar LB road. OMG it took 15 mins. I recollected how I would vroom
through these roads without giving any thought to look at tiny shops on
road and men who cycle. With full determination, I cycled on battered
roads and counted 100 to hold my spirit. hmm... I reached Greenways
road, I am dead tired. No looking back. Pulled up myself, I was singing
all heroic songs to energise my legs. right from MGR to Rajini to the
latest watched movie-Utthama Villan- I sang it all!!
No words to explain the atrocity''of two-wheelers and the fourwheelers.
A kind bus driver on TTK road slowed down and allowed me to ride at my
speed. I was forced to stop for two minutes at the CP Ramasamy road
because of the signal. The journey continued as the drops of rain
drenched my soul. I am happy. I think, peddling is a problem at the
initial moments; then the rim of the tyre takes you on all pathways!
When I was riding via Poes garden, a serene locality, my humming became
clear for the pedestrians. But to myself its not enough! charged up and
telling myself that I CAN DO IT!! I reached gemini. From nowhere I got
the strength to easily ride the long stretch of the crowded Nungambakkam
to reach my office. WOW- I broke my record of laziness!! I should thank
the rain for giving a shield from heat waves of Chennai that helped me
It was my latest expedition to yet
another kingdom of the underprivileged. This time I went to Kodungaiyur,
where exists the massive mount of Chennai's garbage dump. As per the
Chennai Corporation records over 4,000 metric tonnes of the city's garbage are
dumped here every day. Truckloads keep emptying the stinking toxic wastes
through the day, every day.
Some 20 kms from my News7 studio, I
was there with my crew to film the kids at work. It was for my Saturday
show- Maiyam. When I informed my cameraman and driver that they should have
their breakfast before entering Kodungaiyur, they did not understand why and so
they did not follow my advice. But once we were there, they were
shocked to see that several streets were filled with garbage on either side.
And in some streets, people were literally living on roads in small huts
that were surrounded by garbage. After a lot of search, they
managed to find a small street side food shop but their appetite seemed
On the road, I inquired an old man
about the road to Panakkaran Nagar (meaning – a colony of rich men) that would
take us to ground zero of the Kodungaiyur dumpyard. Ironically, for some
reason, the cluster of houses of the below-poverty-line people had earned that
name, Panakkaran Nagar. I recollected my meeting with India’s
venerated environment journalist P.Sainath sometime back, when he
had mentioned that while presenting the news, one must always talk about
two extremes so that people would understand the difference.
While climbing the garbage mounds,
my cameraman and driver were moaning and cribbing that I always
took them for a ‘ride’. (I don’t seem to be interested in covering press
meets at five star hotels and meetings in lavish resorts was their
complaint!!). Anyhow, when I climbed the top of the filthy mountain of toxic
garbage, we couldn’t breathe properly. Though the pathway was filled with dry
waste, the closer spot where children and adults collecting and separating the
waste was full of wet waste. And the dusty air, grease and grime on our faces
seemed to revolt the two men in my team.
After many attempts, I was able to
convince a little boy to talk to the camera about his Kodungaiyur career.
Kumar, a class five dropout, enters the dumpsite at 10am and works hard till
about 2pm. He would rest for a while in a little tent there and have his
lunch. He then works till about 4pm. He would sell his day’s collection of
plastic bottles and get a few rupees.
I told my cameraman to capture the
shots of how these garbage pickers run behind the huge trucks that
bring fresh loads of garbage. And how easily they pick out the kind of waste
that they specialize in 'merchandising'. For example, there are teams
that would collect only pet bottles, a few others would look for e-waste, yet
another team looks for thick cardboards...
After three hours there, the dusty
air and smell from the garbage became too much for us. We wanted to wrap
up the shooting. A kind woman came to me and offered water. I turned to my crew
and they were aghast. How would they use any water from that place? I smiled as
I accepted the water and washed the grime off my face and quenched my thirst. A tea-seller appeared from nowhere, climbing up the garbage
mountain on his two-wheeler that carried his huge can of tea and several
paper cups. As the garbage-pickers gathered around him, one kind soul turned to
me to ask if we could have some 'nice tea'. We tried hard to smile and mumbled
an answer--we are very grateful but we must go because we have a deadline.
Actually we were feeling very tired and very suffocated.
On the way down, two little kids ran
behind us for the send off. Though the Kodungaiyur smoke and stench gifted me
with a terrible cough that drained me the next couple of days, I was glad
that we could get some good shots on the camera and also the
crew could understand the tough living of those garbage
pickers and the poor inhabitants of Panakkaran Nagar. When I narrated the
Kodungaiyur trip to my dad and told him I must thank God for granting me
good life, he replied, 'No, fight with God. Ask Him why he has made life so
tough for those people'.
I was just surfing the net going from one extreme 'o kadhal kanmani' film songs to flipkart to journalism fellowships to articles in the OPEN magazine; meanwhile checking out my official mails! As the songs were flowing through my 'headphone', I got to read the article on forgotten controversy of writer Perumal Murugan.
To me the following part that recorded the version of historian Theodore Baskaran made sense:
Some of these experiences would be lost to us if they weren’t preserved
so well in the amber of literature. “In another 50 years, they will say
‘untouchability’ never existed,” says historian Theodore Baskaran, who
is among the intellectuals from the Kongu region to have stood by
Murugan. “Denial of history and culture go hand in hand with in-
sensitivity to literature.”
I believe writer Perumal Murugan presently living in one of the corners of the Chennai city, should actually give a second thought and get back to writing. We need people like him who are repositories of knowledge and actually report on historical issues that the GEN Y should know.
LINK to OPEN magazine article: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/art-culture/delible-ink
As I had finished reading the article, I had already heard the mental manadhil song - Music by ARR and lyrics by Vairamuthu in the film by Maniratnam' four times !! chillax