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Livelihoods financing on the familiar SHORE

beachlifeMy childhood was by the southern Indian coast, living in Chennai. We ran and walked the beach in the morning, played cricket in the beach in the evening. The sea that stretches forever was and continues to be part of life. So do the fishing community whom i have see from close as a kid. I learnt to row in the backwaters early on, though, I never did swim in the sea.

Holidays were spent watching the sea, any visitor invariably was taken to the sea. Have slept in the sands for nights after searching for Olive Ridley eggs through the night with the fantastic SSTCN group and cleaned and planted mangroves on the estuary with the ENC group. I have watched several hundred sunrises on the beach, sometimes listening to Pandit. Hariprasad Chaurasia play morning ragas, the gadgets have changed in 30 yrs though, but the music, sea and sense of awe in me remains the same. 

In 1995,I went on a voyage in the same sea coast, travelling from Vizag to Saudi Arabia on a ship while consulting for a corporate that attempted to implement an early version of ERP for ship management. It was quite something to look at the same coast from the Ocean when the Captain called me to the deck and pointed West to ''your city''! Till then I didn't realize how much of  Chennai city person I was. 2004 Tsunami changed my memory with the sea, the horror of the early reports, the challenges of getting organized for relief work, volunteering for the efforts...watching the revival up close, slow rebuilding of the coastal livelihoods as the immense wisdom of centuries and the resilience surfaced. I travelled down the coast in this state, watched the amazing women who controlled and traded on fish at Nagapattinam, the network of tourism dependent small businesses in Kanyakumari, the massive mangroves facilitated by MSSRF in the Ramnad region, the Odavi boat builders in the same district whom i studied in depth, the farmers who grew paddy within a 100 mts of the coast in Nagapattinam region. The several engagements on the coast also took me to other coasts - Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Andaman...studying, understanding, and learning from some of the most beautiful people I have met.

Today (29th April 2024) I am officially starting a small initiative in a large project of about $200 million, that could have significant impact on the same coastal communities that I have learnt from. And as I start my day, these memories of the sea, the salty air, the smell of fish, and the thousands of conversations crowd my memory. Signed up a small contract to study ways and means to strengthen the financing of livelihoods for the coastal communities.

More soon on this...

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