New Delhi: Viswanathan Anand is widely regarded not just as one of India’s greatest sporting icons but also as a thorough gentleman.
The chess legend further reinforced that belief, as he rose to the occasion yet again in this time of adversity for his city of Chennai.
He may have made several impressive moves on a chess board, but this latest gesture from Anand tops everything.
According to a report in the Times of India, Anand opened the doors of his home to flood-affected residents of neighbouring slums.
The 45-year-old isn’t in town, as he is currently playing Norway’s Magnus Carlsen in the London Chess Classic.
“Since it was difficult to leave my toddler and elderly father-in-law and at home and venture out to offer relief and assistance, we chose to open our doors to those affected. Following the first floods, we had close to 20 people, including two pregnant women, from the neighbouring slums staying over at our place. My maid, who lost her home and all her belongings, too came over along with her extended family and stayed with us. Food was cooked in large amounts for all those at home as well as handed over to volunteers for distribution,” Anand’s wife Aruna told TOI.
Anand is also expected to make a monetary contribution to help in the relief operations.
“Most of the slum kids whom we offered refuge were unaware that the house belongs to Anand. Once our maid informed them, they were thrilled at the idea of living at the house of someone about whom they had read only in textbooks.
“One of the young girls handed me a tiny bar of chocolate that she had received from volunteers as a birthday (December 11) gift for Vishy. It has been a thoroughly moving and fulfilling experience. It’s actually the first time that I have witnessed the city go beyond chequebook charity and offer whatever they have for those in need.”
“The children from the slum visit him almost every day and bring whatever snacks they can save from what is distributed to them by volunteers. They are a large, thick bunch of buddies now,” she further added.
Anand’s R A Puram home, despite being situated on the ground floor, suffered no damage.