An intellectually-engaging form of humanism runs through Western literature, and it is a form that pulls off the impossible with elan: Reconciling nihilism with hope. It portrays humans as being placed an unequal playing field against nature.
While they cannot decisively rein in the forces of nature which would act up often and upset their best-laid plans, they could justifiably pat themselves on their backs if they put up a spirited fight and barely managed the situation. Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man And The Sea slots neatly into this mould.
The activity log-book of Greater Chennai Corporation — as also those of other government agencies — can hardly be equated with the flair of literary humanism, but it talks about the same old issue, in less-romantic terms and hard-nosed numbers.
The elaborate stormwater drain work was essentially an effort to rein in nature, and of course, also undo the effects of ill-advised development-related decisions. And here is another example, also related to the season.
On the morning of December 24, a diminutive Bobcat JCB and a mid-sized load-carrying lorry were moving in tandem on Marina Loop Road, having been tasked with a hugely responsible safety exercise.
Under the gimlet eye of a Greater Chennai Corporation supervisor, the drivers of the vehicles were forging ahead, stopping by mounds of soft sea sands that had piled up along the carriageway.
The safety of motorcyclists is incumbent on how regularly these sands are cleared. The sands had piled up on one side of the carriageway, the vertical half that is cheek by jowl with the seashore.
The reader may recall the post-Mandous report in these pages that highlighted through images and text how sections of Marina Loop Road were caked with sea sands, both sides of the carriageway being affected noticeably.
In contrast, the current accumulation is restricted to just one side, just the median serving as an effective bastion against the wind, and preventing further dispersal of sea sands.
The GCC supervisor notes that during this month — he was obviously referring to Margazhi (mid-December to mid-January) — ground-scraping low-level wind (tharai kaathu in Tamil) blowing inland from the sea is common, and that explains why the sands did not make it to the carriageway on the other side of the median.
He further reveals that every four days, an elaborate exercise to clear the accumulated sea sands from the road, in toto, is carried out.