Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Earthquake: Shock, Paneer and Adele

The earth shook yesterday. And we are still here.

At around 2:40pm when people were just settling back after Zuhr prayers and lunch breaks, the ground rattled. And rattled on for the longest 4 minutes ever.

People came rushing out to see the buildings shaking. The minaret of the mosque swinging. The overhead water tank spilling through the overflow spout. A few boards coming loose from the new cement.

And we swayed. And swayed. And since death seemed so close, people were reciting whatever they could. Mainly the proclamation of the Islamic creed. With eyes wide open and ears intent, trying to gauge the earthquake's intensity. Javed, in disbelief, kept claiming "Zameeni buneul chhu" (Its an earthy earthquake), because you know, sometimes the earth quakes in the skies. While his wife who was preparing tea refused to let the earthquake disturb her and only came out to look what the commotion was all about.

A small crowd had collected, and after sometime people were no longer sure if it was still quaking or not. Some people were feeling faint.

The sky was an angry apocalyptic grey. Unrelenting. As people looked above for mercy, there was none in the skies. It was a  thick grey shield over the valley. Let up only after the quake.

The traffic was in a bad shape. Everywhere. A huge honking stream of cars which was not moving. And people who had been buying school uniforms for the new term, were standing in the middle of the road.  Worried. I can hardly imagine what people in hospitals and other critical places do in such situations, disaster management training notwithstanding. But I did see three labourers from India make a run for it, as if the world was surely going to end. For a minute, we all thought so.

(Javed's wife was kind enough to send us the tea)


A few hours later, it was business as usual. Not for the traffic though, that was bad till night.

Riyaz, the tea vendor, asked his son to deliver tea to Bashir Ahmed, the advocate. The son refused: he won't go all that way.And he wouldn't go to tuition as well, because the teacher has given him the day off. The only thing the lad agreed to do was fill his father's sugar bag, from which his friend took a fistful. On the Amira Kadal Bridge, a fisher-woman was explaining the merits of her catch. Another woman was buying pulses. Traffic was still jammed, life had returned to normal.

 I could tell you more details of how I was stuck in the car for two hours for a journey that normally takes 30 minutes, but suffice to say this:

I spent the time singing Adele and being told to shut up; and nibbling raw paneer  till one of us decided to get down and buy vegetable rolls from HatTric which were awful. I was expecting the people to come up with rumours of earthquake 'predictions', but thankfully we were spared all that this time.

How did you fare?

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