Humans of Chennai: a hopeful Deepavali in the city after a tough year

On Deepavali, the city wakes up hopeful for a higher, safer and happier year. Team MetroPlus speaks to individuals who have labored via the uncertainties of the pandemic, on what the pageant means to them now

A relaxed cup of tea

Biju VG got here to Madras in 1992 to work as an operation theatre helper, a job promised to him via a letter from a distant uncle. The year he completed faculty, he took the practice from his native Pattanamthitta and landed right here clad in a veshti, his shirt sleeves rolled as much as his forearms in attribute Malayalee trend.

Much has occurred in the 29 years he has labored at Padma Clinic and Nursing Home, Kilpauk; he’s now a educated emergency paramedic, radiographer and technician overseeing the upkeep of all hospital gear and an OT assistant for neuro- and ortho-surgeries, learning whereas working full-time.

But for the final year or so, 47-year-old Biju did lengthy hours of pandemic-related responsibility, when the clinic was a designated COVID-19 centre. He spent almost six months in a PPE swimsuit, throughout India’s second wave this summer season, his shirt sleeves nonetheless rolled up underneath it.

Biju VG, emergency paramedic, radiographer and technician
| Photo Credit: Ravindran_R

“My family lives three kilometres from the clinic, in Aminjikarai. But I never went home for four months, when COVID was at its peak,” he says, with a mild chortle. “Even otherwise, hours are long as technicians are needed to run the preliminary tests, EEG, X-rays, ECG… sometimes CPR. In the mornings I leave home after a hurried cup of tea. I haven’t celebrated a whole day for Onam or Diwali with my family for nearly three years now. Since staff here is mostly from Kerala, we take turns to head home for festivals. At least, my family lives here,” says the father of two youngsters.

Biju says holidays are strictly for marriages and funerals and hardly for festivals; it hasn’t gone down effectively typically. “I try to make my family understand that patients’ relatives come in looking for reassurance, to put in a word with a doctor, point someone in the direction of the right specialist. That gives me immense satisfaction.”

“This Deepavali I will be working, as always, but hope to squeeze in time for bursting firecrackers with the children, treat them to their favourite food and enjoy a relaxed cup of tea with my wife.”

And, perhaps alternate his PPE swimsuit for a festive veshti.

Deepa Alexander

Like father, like son

Satish Kumar is busy giving closing touches to a pair of slippers he has simply completed designing. This footwear might be worn by common actor-comedian Yogi Babu in one of his upcoming movies.

Last month, he labored on particular footwear to be worn by actor Karthi in an upcoming film. He additionally equipped leather-based materials to be worn by Andrea in her subsequent manufacturing.

It has been a hectic final couple of months for the 32-year-old leather-based designer. And he’s most relieved, for it’s far completely different from final year, when the pandemic broke out.

“I had absolutely no projects last year,” says Satish, who give up a profitable IT job in 2015, to help his father DJS Kumar, one of the hottest cobblers in the movie trade, who subsequently handed away.

Satish Kumar, a leather designer

The years that flew by had been a blur for Satish, who was confused about what to do with life. “Thanks to my father’s reputation and my enthusiasm, I got a few orders from film production houses. I was learning the tricks of the trade, when the pandemic broke out. Most projects were stalled.”

Satish’s recollection of 2020 primarily revolves round the time he went via, questioning profession selections and observing a bleak future. “Last year’s Deepavali was a washout. There was no motivation or money to even think of a celebration.”

But he did do one thing helpful throughout that part: strengthen his abilities. “With a lot of time in hand, I went through all the older material my appa worked on,” reveals Satish, referring to the work his father put in iconic Tamil movies like Aayirathil Oruvan, Karnan, Baasha and Aboorva Sagodarangal. “I brushed my skill sets and taught myself how to design armour and cuffs.”

All this got here in useful when earlier this year, the makers of a Prabhu Deva fantasy topic, Abhishek Films, approached him to work on a particular costume for the star. “I was thrilled when he (Prabhu Deva) put it on, and said, ‘Nalla pannirka pa.’ (You’ve done a good job). This Deepavali, there’s atleast enough inclination to celebrate.”

Srinivasa Ramanujam

One for the workforce

Last Deepavali, U Premkumar was in Beawar, his hometown in Rajasthan for a humble ceremony: his daughter’s much-awaited marriage. On coming again to Chennai, little did the proprietor of Ramdev Hot Chappatis, a tiffin centre in Adambakkam, know that he could be shuttling between hospitals, railway stations and streets serving free meals to first responders, sufferers and the homeless, in the thick of a brutal second wave. But it was not new to him: funded by volunteers and city residents, he had been on the area since the first wave of the pandemic, serving meals to stranded migrant staff ready for Shramik trains.

U Premkumar

“During the first lockdown, since the business was bad, we were planning to go to Rajasthan to be with family, but we felt that there were more important things to take care of here. Thanks to the help we got, we were able to help those in need,” he recollects.

This voluntary work walked the household via the first bout of lockdowns. And with the second wave, as extra orders had been positioned by volunteers, it saved him busy.

Now, Premkumar runs a second department of the restaurant underneath the title Kesava Bhavan close to his first. And so, this Deepavali could be very particular. Perhaps the most particular, since his father first moved to Chennai in 1982 in search of a livelihood.

“In the beginning, it was just me, my wife and kids. We have 19 employees now. We have become ‘steady’,” he provides with a smile. This time, he plans to rejoice the pageant in the city, alongside together with his restaurant crew and their households.

Ramdev Chappatis at Adambakkam

“For us, Deepavali is the beginning of the new year and so we will do Lakshmi puja in both of our shops. We will start afresh, whitewash the walls and clean the spaces. We will eat together, maybe burst some firecrackers as one, big family. We will also get new clothes and distribute sweets,” he says, including “It’s important that they are happy too, not just us.”

Gowri S

End with a fish-heavy meal

The growth of a firecracker set off by an enthusiastic early-riser is the very first thing Pulicat fisherman A Mugan will get up to this Deepavali. “For us, Deepavali begins after we come back home at 8am with a good catch,” says the 29-year-old, who’s the chief of Pulicat Youth Federation.

“Things are looking up,” says Mugan. Last year this time they may not even got down to sea. “We had a quiet Deepavali,” he recollects. “Most of us remained indoors.” But this year is completely different. “There is so much demand that we are working hard to keep up,” he provides.

The previous few months have been eventful: fishermen have invested in new nets, a number of weddings have occurred at Pulicat… “A lot of celebrations are in store,” he says.“We will head straight to the market to sell it,” he explains, including that he expects each bit of the catch to promote out.

A Mugan, leader of Pulicat Youth Federation

“A meat feast for lunch is mandatory that day,” factors out Mugan. “But people living along the coast prefer fish.”

Today, after a arduous day’s work, which begins at 3am, the Pulicat fisherman will go dwelling to rejoice Deepavali his type. New garments, firecrackers, and the pageant’s star: a fish-heavy meal.

Mugan says that households with the capability to spend whip up each fish dish one can suppose of. “There will be a kozhambu (curry), a thick thokku made of squid or prawns, crab fry…” he lists. They will comply with this up with sound sleep, the form you expertise if you find yourself at peace with the world.

Akila Kannadasan

Deepa Alexander, Srinivasa Ramanujam, Akila Kannadasan, Gowri S , 2021-11-03 16:06:27

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