This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ismat Hena. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

When Deathbeds Turn Into Tourist Spots: A 14-Year-Old’s Personal Account Of The Floods

By Ismat Hena:

Recently I went on a trip to Lansdowne, Uttrakhand with my family for three days. Little did we know, as we were comfortably seated in the bus, that there would be heavy downpour accompanied by strong gales on the very morning of our arrival. As the shared jeep dropped us near Gandhi Chowk in Lansdowne, we felt helpless as we had nowhere to go and see. There was dense fog and we couldn’t even see three meters ahead of us, the reason why we saw the Gandhi Chowk on the second day, though we had been dropped near it on the first day itself. The three day stay was a thrilling experience for us, though we got thoroughly wet the minute we ventured out of the hotel, our umbrellas kept blowing backwards and we were shivering in the strong, cool winds.

GP_2013061916550319165503

However, on the third day, I started getting calls from my friends with messages such as ‘take care’, ‘be safe’ etc. Unaware of what had happened, I switched on the TV and got to know of the situation around us – a cloudburst in Kedarnath and floods in many adjacent places. We left the place the next day for Delhi. Thankfully, with Lansdowne being a military regiment area, we encountered no problems on the way, since the roads were well-maintained.

On the way back, the bus passed Muzaffarnagar (or some other adjacent town), and we got a glimpse of the flood, wherein the fields lay beneath the water. Occasionally, we saw a submerged hut or two. Some people struggled to take their cattle out of the water, as we saw a line of 10-12 cows walking in water, with only their heads visible. We continued to look out of the windows at the devastated town, and for that matter, the devastated people who sat on the edge of the road, looking mournful.

On the way, the bus had to pass a bridge over the river Yamuna. As soon as the bus got on top of it, we saw a lot of people noisily roaming here and there. I mistook the crowd (as any person with a sensible mind would) to be a lot of rescue workers of some sort and the rescued people.

However, what the situation actually proved to be was incredibly ludicrous. All the people were basically tourists who had come to see the overflowing river Yamuna! Most of them, from time to time letting out a shriek of excitement and were peeking down the bridge into the deep waters. Almost all of them seemed cheerful and out of their breaths owing to the excitement of having seen a flood-hit river and town. Some were clicking pictures for their folks back home. To top the entire not-so-hilarious nuisance, a dozen were getting their own pictures clicked! One guy that caught my eye, was standing right next to the railing of the bridge. This guy in question, wearing a checked shirt and black jeans with shades, the kind Ray-Ban makes (though I’m not very certain if he was wearing the original), was posing happily for the camera, that his friend was clicking the picture with. There is a great probability that he intended to make it his profile picture on Facebook, considering the popularity of the social networking site in India. Maybe it was in order to show it off to his friends and colleagues.

While the death toll continues to rise and while thousands are stranded in Kedarnath and other areas of Uttrakhand, to make a flood-hit area, a place where people have lost lives (may it be their own, or of their loved ones) and property, a place of tourist interest and shout with excitement while the people of the town continue to cry over their huge losses is a ridiculous thing to do. And to click your own photos with a smiling face to make it your Facebook display picture, or for whatever damned reason, surpasses it all!

You must be to comment.
  1. Rhea Kumar

    this reminds me of slum tourism in Mumbai and tourists forcing Jarawa women to dance in exchange for food. disgusting and shocking!!

    1. Ismat Hena

      Yup. It actually is disgusting !

  2. Ishika

    Well it is what happens in india… People dont understand the senstivity of a serious issue… They continue taking it lightly and then finally then everything becomes a mess they say it is the government’s fault… How will the govt. work if we continue to be like this?

    1. Ismat Hena

      Yeah. I wish indians change their mentality and start looking at serious situations with some regard rather than make a tourist spot out of it.

  3. Isar Ahmed

    well written, and very true representation of facts. I stand testimony of this.

    1. Ismat Hena

      Thanks. And yes, you saw all that. Horrible it was !

  4. yeshaswini

    this somethin really shockingg n unexpected.its a shamefull behaviour… n i wonder wat wud have been dere situation if god forbiddin any of dere lovved ones was on of those drowning in the floods … a shame on indias front!

    1. Ismat Hena

      Exactly.. When others’ loved ones are drowning, they make a DP out of it. A shameful act !

  5. Yash

    even by the standard of a 14 yr old this is so ridiculous! lansdowne didn’t even have the kind of rains that can cause floods! it has nothing to do with it being a military area! and yamuna only had its water level increase because water was released in it from a dam! it wasn’t flooded because of the rains! nobody drowned in it! and muzzafarnagar is absolutly dry now! no drownings there either! u didn’t go to, and you didnt write about any flood-affected area! neither did u care to check up in news or anywhere else about what you saw.
    why do people write just about anything for the sake of writing about current issues! i came here thinking its a first hand account from someone who actually escaped the floods!

    1. Ismat Hena

      You are no one to judge whether I actually went there or not. But FYI I did. And all that I have written is exactly what happened.
      Well..
      1. I I never said Lansdowne had the kind of rains that could cause flood. My exact words are “…..got to know of the situation AROUND us..” (there’s a difference between ‘in’ and ‘around’ )
      2. It has everything to do with being a military area. I have already mentioned in the above article “…..thankfully, with Lansdowne being a military area, we encountered no problems on the way, since THE ROADS WERE WELL MAINTAINED..” ( I hope you know that rains cause landslides, because that is what we feared, but because the area is maintained by military people, we encountered no problems on the way..)
      3. I never said anybody drowned in Yamuna, it was just a thought.
      4. Muzzafarnagar might be dry now, It might have been dry even then, since I said ”…..our bus passed Muzaffarnagar (or some adjacent town)”

      Lastly, — ” u didn’t go to…….. check up in news or anywhere else about what you saw. ” Thats a rather contradicting statement. First you say I didnt go there, then you say I actuallly saw something (without going there) but didn’t check it up with the news or elsewhere.

      For next time, read carefully, comment carefully. 🙂

    2. Ismat Hena

      Ps – As the heading suggests, this article is neither about how any flood occured, or how I escaped any flood. Its about tourist insensitivity.
      So its not what you came here thinking of, because apparently you didn’t read the heading.

  6. Raj

    No offence to your parents, but I think it was very irresponsible of them to go (and to take you along) to such areas in the middle of the monsoons. I’ve been to all those areas you mentioned and my parents were pretty adamant that we return before the monsoons started.
    And what’s with the “age-dropping” ? 😛 There was another article by someone else that also had the person’s age in the title.

    1. Ismat Hena

      It wasnt irresponsible or anything, We didnt know there could be so much rain. We’ve never experienced rains in the hills before, nor dangerous rains like that. Delhi is no place for that.

      Haahaaa, age dropping lol ! Ahh, you have the option of writing a short bio of yourself, And I wrote one and mentioned my age too. So they just used it for the title. 😀

    2. Raj

      Even I’ve lived in Delhi and toured Uttarkhand,Himachal etc. but never during the rainy season. In fact my parents would ensure we started back before May ended, every time we went.
      Regarding age-dropping 😀 , there was a rather good article which also had the author’s age in the title :http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2013/05/had-i-been-born-poor-i-doubt-what-this-country-would-have-done-for-me-a-14-year-old-girl-speaks-out/
      I always thought girls didn’t like to reveal their ages 😛 #notbeingsexist

    3. Ismat Hena

      Well, about the first part, I dont know what to say.
      Well, ok good. You did that, next time I’ll take care too.
      Btw, you started back before May ended, we go anywhere when May ends ! 😀 Summer vacations, you know.

      About the second part, No, it doesnt matter anymore, the age that is. Not for today’s gen.

      Ps – read that article too, Liked it (Y) . Its good, very good rather.
      And yeah, your comments too 😀 *behappy*
      And yes, you got good english. Of course, your article might get selected someday too ! So keep writing. ( My first article got rejected )

    4. Raj

      Actually I was the one who used to insist that we should stay in the hills during the rains since the scenery was great. But my parents were insistent since rains play havoc with roads due to cave-ins and landslides.

      No I think my articles got rejected more due to the controversial content than english skills 😛 But it’s OK , commenting is fun too 🙂

    5. Ismat Hena

      Yeah, t’is fun 🙂

      And yea, once we went to Nainital during rains… Great greenery 😀
      Controversial content ? LOL!

More from Ismat Hena

Similar Posts

By Sara Sharma

By Vaishnavi Gond

By Survivors Against TB

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below