Tuesday, December 28, 2004

First post!

Dear Friends,

My father, David Albert, and I have started this blog as a way of
reporting back from South India, where we are going later today. 
Sunday morning, I woke up to the news that a giant earthquake and 
tsunami had hit the area where my adopted grandparents and other 
friends and relatives live and work. Since then, we have decided 
that we will still go, and help in any way possible. Our greatest 
strength is perhaps our ability to get the word out about what is 
going on there.

A bit of background is probably needed regarding my connections to
this area of Tamil Nadu. My grandparents, S. and Krishnammal 
Jagannathan, are Gandhian land reform organizers who have worked 
for more than 50 years on getting land for the impoverished people 
of South India. Lately, they have had to contend with multinational 
corporations who have moved in and built shrimp farms along the 
coast, salinating the soil, polluting the water, and wiping out 
fish populations, in this district that depends entirely upon 
agriculture and fishing. They corporations also have cut down most 
of the mangrove forests, the only protection against cyclones and 
tsunamis. Krishnammal and Jagannathan's son, Bhoomikumar, works in 
Cambodia as a child psychiatrist working with war victims, and 
their daughter, Sathya, runs the pediatric section of a hospital 
in the town of Chengalpattu. The extraordinary lives of Krishnammal 
and Jagannathan have been recorded in my Dad's book, The Color of 

My Dad met Krishnammal and Jagannathan (or, as they are commonly
known, Amma and Appa, which mean "mother" and "father" in Tamil) 
in the 70s, at a United Nations training seminar, and they mutually 
adopted each other. I first met them when I visited India at the 
age of three, and I still have a vague memory of meeting 
Jagannathan in jail. I visited again in 1998, when I was 11.

I know that all of the people I know personally in India are fine,
but the devastation there must be immense. Thank you all for your 
thoughts and prayers.

In the Light,

Aliyah Shanti

If you want to contact us, our email is shantinik@earthlink.net.
My Dad's website is http://www.skylarksings.com/. 
Copies of The Color of Freedom and more information on Amma and 
Appa can be found there.


Blogger myles said...

David and Aliyah,

How incredible to set out on this
gargantuan challenge! And to actually find time
to share part of this lifetime experience with
the people behind! David, take good care of your
amazing Smithy who has so much to give to this world -- and Aliyah, keep an eye on your phenomenal Dad. Posted as Myles, but really Pam.

5:18 PM, December 28, 2004  
Blogger Poornima said...

so wish i was back in india. i can't bear to see pictures of pondicherry and madras' altered coastline. i'm still trying to see if there's any way i could go back for a small part of j-term.

good luck! it's awesome your father and you are doing this.

10:33 AM, December 29, 2004  
Blogger Full Moon 52 said...

Dear David and Aliyah:

Best Wishes for yur incredible journey. We have heard that there is another tsunami warning that was issued 30 minutes ago for India and offer our prayers for your safety.

David we enjoyed your reflection of the midrash on Og.

Take care you two!


11:39 PM, December 29, 2004  
Blogger Kathyk said...


My heart and prayers go out to you and your daughter. I so admire *and* envy what you are doing. And, no, rest assured, we (JF) and I will not forget the victims in a month and will do what we can from afar to help.

6:55 AM, January 04, 2005  

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