Not Enough Time In So Large A World

The 13th month after Hurricane Katrina and the flood has flown by as swiftly as it came, and it is now time for your New Orleanian friend to bid adieu to the North Dakotan bunker. My final post was to be an interview with Anjali Niyogi, a young Tulane University physician who stayed behind for the storm and flood to help area first responders. Her idea has now garnered the newly-established Community Health Center a $5 million grant from the nation of Qatar.

The Community Health Center was founded last September when Tulane physician Anjali Niyogi set up a card table in the street to serve Hurricane KatrinaÂ’s first responders. Since then the center has established itself at the Covenant House [at] 611 N. Rampart Street, and served more than 7,800 patients with free adult primary care, mental health counseling, geriatric care and health education.

However, I will end my posts here with an homage to my paternal grandmother, who unexpectedly passed away last night in her Chennai home. Despite never having spent a substantial amount of time with her, I know Bhavani Patti (Grandma Bhavani) because I am her – she is the storyteller, writer, historian, people watcher and mocha-colored, Rubenesque pear-shaped woman in me. She was the inspiration for VatulNet and her death has kicked my rear into working harder on the genealogy portion of the site.

Patti’s children and grandchildren are almost everywhere in the world – India, Europe, Australia and the United States. Now, more than ever, is when we wish we could all miraculously converge in space and time to commiserate and grieve. But, time zones and logistics do not always militate in our favor. Venues like Sepia Mutiny serve to make our diaspora smaller through online discussion, debate, consensus and a forum to make like-minded (or not) friends. It was on SM that I met so many who are “my kind” but their individual selves in oh! so many beautiful and interesting ways. My kingdom for more days in the year to meet and interact with all of them in a befitting manner, at least something more than emails, cards, IMs and the occasional meetups. Multiply that feeling by a hundred and you may understand my chagrin at not having had or made the time to spend with the woman who created and raised my father, uncles and aunts. Yet, during this blink of a geological eye, I was privy to her company and advice whenever possible and grew a hearty appreciation for home and family. For that, I am grateful, and similarly thankful to have met you at all.

Gratitude to the mutineers for making like Bruce Springsteen and pulling this Courtney Cox out of the crowd and onstage, except in a lot less dorky fashion. A flying kiss to Siddhartha for helping highlight my lovely Crescent City and its current woes, which are far from over. I insist that each one of you visit here to witness the still-uncleared devastation firsthand and to act as ambassadors for the rebirth of a great American city, the cradle of its musical culture and culinary taste.

Au revoir, mes amies! Laissez les bon temps rouler encore!

Happy Navarathri, too!

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20 thoughts on “Not Enough Time In So Large A World

  1. my dear maitri: i’m sorry for your immense loss… your words of remembrance to this great lady are superb.. thanks for your month here…

    warm hugs… the bean.

  2. Sail away sweet sister, sail across the sea, I hope you’ll find somebody, who will love you half as much as me, My heart is always with you, and you know that’s the truth, So sail away sweet sister, and we’ll always be in love with you.

    -Axl Rose, Prelude to November Rain, Gn’R – Live in Tokyo 1994

    My hearfelt condolences for your immense loss Maitri, and that too during this joyous Navathri. Your brief stint here was measured yet gripping in its raw portrayal of love for New Orleans. We hope to see more of you.

  3. My condolences, Maitri. I had a similar bond with my paternal grandmother, and so it is particularly touching to read your tribute.

    And it was great to read your work here, albeit for two short a time.

  4. Maitri, I am so sorry. I wasn’t lucky enough to meet either of my Ammachis– my heart aches from such a sad truth, so I can’t imagine what it must be like to be you at this moment, you, who actually saw and was kissed by (or if you’re Mallu, sniffed by) your Patti’s face.

    May her memory be eternal, may you never be a stranger. Thank you for sharing your words with us.

  5. Au revoir, brown. Keep fighting the good fight. Were I nearer, I’d raise a glass in honor of two great ladies I’ve never met: the one for writing what she does the way she does about a particular where I love, the other for inspiring her to write it.

    You’ll be missed.

  6. Moving tribute to a lady easily discerned as Great by the beautiful fruit of her love and labor. My condolences for what must be a painful yet honored time for you. Too short a blogspan by far, my dear, but so nice while it lasted. Thank you for sharing this and everything. What Salil said!

  7. My condolences Maitri.

    I know Bhavani Patti (Grandma Bhavani) because I am her

    This reminds me of what we used to call our grandparents. We didn’t actually know their first names so distinguished between maternal and paternal grandparents by where they lived (eg. Madras Ammachi .vs. Bangalore Ammachi — which sounds odd when translated into english: Grandma Madras ?). And when they relocated their names changed accordingly. I don’t know if this convention is common among the rest of you.

    On a different note: thanks for your valiant attempts to continue to break the north-indian lexical hegemony :) on this blog.

  8. Maitri, my condolences to your family. My optimism for your great city. My cyber-affection for you. Thanks for educating, entertaining, and enlightening us for the past month. A bientot, my fellow Tamilian.

  9. Maitri, I can’t resist being a typical middle-aged first gener at this moment and say – we are raising ‘em right! And my condolences.

  10. My last trip to New Orleans was for the funeral of my grandmother, one of the finest people I have ever known. All the best… good luck and Godspeed…

  11. Maitri,

    My condolences for your loss. Thank you for your insightful articles here on SM.

    Best wishes for Navratri too.

  12. Maitri,

    So sorry to hear of your loss.

    Although when you said, “I am her” i stopped worrying for you. I hope that the simple beauty of that is a lasting talisman no matter what life may bring you.

    Thanks for very many interesting posts; and all best!

  13. maitri,

    You’ve done a lot of good for your city. You made us want to visit New Orleans again and soon. Sorry for your Patti and sorry you won’t be posting anymore. Poitu vaanga : )