Today was a visit to Pulicat, home to tribal and fisher people. Pulicat used to be only accessible by boat so access to the mainland was much more restricted; however, due to the fact that people have died crossing by boat the government has now built a bridge making it accessible by road. After a couple of hours on the bus we stopped in a small village for a toilet break and refreshments, which was really welcomed, being on a bus driving through India is not the most restful activity.
We finally arrived at Pulicat, for me personally it was amazing to see the change to the community. The last time I visited was in 2007, the damage from the tsunami was very evident, people had lost homes and livelihoods, today we saw the housing provided by the government for those who had been left homeless, we saw a multipurpose centre built by the diocese for the community on the island.
We had so much fun with the community, the children danced for us and a group of boys performed a skit, it was then our turn to perform. It is at moments like this that I realize that our culture is watered down if not non-existent. I realize we have a culture, by default we all belong to a culture, but when it comes to dancing and singing, I think, we have lost our creativity, so there was need for innovation, that innovation came in the form of the girls and boys on the island teaching us their cultural dance. This created an atmosphere of great joy, with laughter and clapping, as I have said before it is really liberating to let go and have a go, not concerned with whether “we can do it,” but concerned with let us share in this fun together.
You can never escape the emotional roller coaster when out and about with the people and the children. Regardless of how difficult life may be or we may perceive it to be they shine with hope, they present with a smile and deep eyes, their eyes filled with that shine of hope for their future.
After the frivolity had finished we went down to see the beach and dip our feet in the cool water, because today in particular the sun beat down on us, the rays burning some and the sweat just rolling down – the humid air was hot to breathe, so stepping into the water was just a cool sense of relief as we splashed about with the kids from the local community.
I think this has been a highlight for all of us, we had so many interactions and spent most of our visit with the people we were visiting rather than walking and looking. Today will be a day that I am sure we will all take with us into the future.