Aileen Salin, Coach Community Champions of Change 2
Life Project Center, Chennai, India
The lockdown has been for us a perfect opportunity to get to know our direct neighbors better.
At block 52, the one in front of the center, two families spend most of their time outside - cooking, playing and chatting - on what has now become an extension of their apartment.
Lockdown or not, the people of Kannagi Nagar live outside. Not surprising when you know that they live in 15m².
So, outside of the fact that the men of the building are not working anymore, the lockdown has not changed their life habits so much.
On our end, things are quite different : we used to leave the center as much as we could to discover our city, meet our friends or play volleyball. Today, we spend all of our time at home (obviously) and we are craving for human contact !
Without even realising it, we have hence settled a new ritual: we spend ages on our terrasse, observing and interacting with our neighbours from 52 Tsunami. They seem to like this new relationship as much as we do. To be honest, we don’t have much to say to each other and the communication is difficult as their english is not much better than our tamil. But we try, we guess, we laugh and step by step we are starting to know them better. Today, we know most of their names, their job and who is married to who. We also know who are the funny ones, the shy ones, the angry ones…
Among these 2 families there is the amazing Dhurga, who joined LP4Y 3 months ago with her little Shabrish. Luckily, this cute baby helped us to break the ice : when you don’t have anything to say, a funny face addressed to a baby followed by a laugh for the parents will always do the job !
On top of being so kind and welcoming to us, they are incredibly beautiful. Hence, I was happy that they accepted to participate in my photoshoot last week. With Clarisse, we thought it could be a good way to show how the lockdown looks like in Kannagi Nagar, without miserabilism and far from the images portrayed in the media.
Of course, it does not mean that life is not tough for these 2 families who can now only count on Dhurga to bring money home. But life goes on and it is probably not the first hard time these families had to face. As a reminder, we are located in Tsunami : the entire area has been built to welcome the families who have lost their house (and maybe some loved ones) when a tsunami hit the east coast of India in 2004.
These pictures are also for us a way to always remember this new funny relationship that we now trease very much.
When all this will be finished, we plan to install bamboo fences all around the terrace to gain some privacy : today we know that the bamboo fence will definitely need a window!