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Mall Road

Bus Addey, Maal Rode, Camp, Madal Toun, Ajadpur, Shalimaar...

Surviving an earthquake

Photograph: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images, via Rediff

I was sleeping around nine thirty in the morning when Arnab woke me up, "Shivam, earthquake! Shivam, get up! earthquake!" Ah, so they had finally found a way to get the insomniac to wake up before noon, I thought. Yes, yes, I said. Found my glasses and got out and wo! Everyone was leaving the house and really going out in the open. It must really be an earthquake, but why couldn't I feel it? Turns out it lasted thirty seconds and was over by the time I opened my eyes.

Arnab was the only one in the house to have felt the earth shaking. "I am from Assam," he explained. Vinod had refused to believe him until he was shown through the transparent body of the filter how the water was splashing left and right.

Outside, as neighbours who hardly knew each other started talking, I joked about why we had left valuables inside. We would have been screwed if the skyscraper had fell, right?

An earthquake, if it does not kill people around you, can be a source of humour - at least until the news arrives that as many as 18,000 are dead. Nobody died around us in Noida, and phone calls to friends and family confirmed that nobody died in Delhi or anywhere in North India. So everywhere we started exchanging notes about the quake, and this is the funniest part. Everyone goes about asking everyone else in a light hearted manner, "Did you feel the tremors?" D said he was woken up by the quake and could feel his bed shifting. His ambition is to die of alcoholism. Had the tremors last a little longer, we wouldn't have been talking about it like this.

I refreshed Google News again and again to find out where the epicentre was. I took about an hour for the news to pour in - a phone call informed me that TV was faster than the web. Some had already died in Srinagar and Pakistan. Tremors had also been felt in Kabul. And you thought it was globalisation which was rendering national borders meaningless?

The epicentre was Muzaffarabad (capital of Pakistani Kashmir), which is 125 kms from Srinagar (capital of Indian Kashmir) and 95 kms from Islamabad (the Pakistani capital).

Since when did natural disasters start interfering in geopolitics. eh?

It must be better to die in an earthquake than to survive one. Not only does it leave you destitute, but also (particularly if you lost loved ones to it) shatters your faith in the stability of the ground beneath your feet. Which is a terrifying thought. Would you ever again believe anything, anyone?

Perhaps earthquakes are god’s way of converting people to atheism.

An earthquake is worse than a tsunami because those who live by the sea half-expect the waters to be unpredictable. Delhi is known to be very “quake prone,” as the papers sensationally remind us every now and then. The area near the river Yamuna is said to be the one that would be the worst hit. Places like Mayur Vihar, Samachar Apartments, and Patparganj (which is where Arnab lives) are said to be built upon the fault line.

After I graduate I would probably be looking for a room or two in one of these places, because all struggling journos seem to live there.

Who knows, the earth may gobble me up one day.

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-- Blogger Prahalathan, 10/11/2005 01:25:00 pm

but then u get paid 100000 bucks for dying in the earthquake.
That was Manmohan singh's knee jerk cash dole on receiving earth quake news.    

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