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!