Floodwaters, sewage and the remains of humankind’s greed swallowed a city whole in December 2015. In the face of gross mismanagement by those in power, Chennai lost lives, homes and livelihoods.
Waters from the city’s many lakes, canals and rivers, which humans had usurped and eaten into with tar roads and concrete jungles, retraced their old routes and ate anything that came in their way. Like they did in Mumbai in 2005, Surat in 2006, Srinagar in 2014 and Kerala in 2018. As they might in Bangalore someday, or in Kolkata.
To make sense of the horror of those days, Krupa Ge spent over three years filing RTIs, reading government documents and archival material, and interviewing stakeholders, journalists and the people of Chennai. What she arrives at is the shocking truth of how masterly inactivity drowned the city, and how it could happen again. And again.
But the heart of the book is in the stories of the people, including Krupa’s own parents, who were caught up in the nightmare of the floods—of their resilience and kindness, and the faultlines of caste and class that the crisis exposed.
‘Chennai’s history, tradition, culture and people are vital to the idea of a rich, diverse India. The floods that ravaged this great city should never be forgotten, to continually remind us of the stakes and hence our responsibilities. Combining historical documents, first-person accounts, interviews and government reports, this painstakingly researched book makes an important contribution to keeping such memories alive.’-Arvind Subramanian, former chief economic advisor and besotted Chennaiite
‘In December 2015, a city drowned when forgotten rivers and built-over lakes came back to reclaim what was rightfully theirs. Weaving together Krupa’s own harrowing experience of the floods with that of others whose lives were forever changed, Rivers Remember also meticulously traces the why and how of what happened. Taut and incisive, this is a cautionary tale that serves to remind us we can only abuse nature so much, while telling the larger story of how urban planning works across India.’-Anita Nair
‘The Cooum, Adyar and Kosasthalaiyar Rivers carry within their dark waters the future, present and the past of their city—Chennai. In December 2015, that city drowned. From deep within those unforgiving waters, Krupa Ge recovers stories, memories and truths of despair, nostalgia, neglect, discrimination, hope, tragedy, corruption, death and life. Through this telling, she warns us of a dystopian future where 2015 comes to stay, even as the death knell gets louder.-T.M. Krishna
About the Author
Krupa Ge is a writer and editor from Chennai. Her reportage and cultural writings have appeared in The Hindu, The Caravan, The Wire, Firstpost and The Ladies Finger, among others, over the last ten years.
She is a consultant editor for the Economic and Political Weekly’s ‘Postscript’ section. Her short fiction has appeared in Voices from the Attic, Scroll.in, the Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature, Muse India, Blink Ink, among other Indian and international publications.
She won a Laadli award in 2017 for her column ‘Ms. Representation’, which appears in The New Indian Express every Wednesday. She was awarded a Jayanti Residency for the year 2017. She won the Toto–Sangam Residency Fellowship in 2016 and was shortlisted for a Toto Prize in Creative Writing the same year.
Find her at www.krupage.com.