The earthquake in Kathmandu 2015

Mahesh Acharya had just finished speaking about the contentious constitutional issues. It was now turn to talk about the upcoming national convention of his party the Nepali Congress. The Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation, who is also a Nepali Congress leader, was telling me how the rumours that the NC President and Prime Minister Koirala was seeking to elongate the constitution-writing process until after the party convention were baseless. Then, he said, “There’s an earthquake” and rushed towards the door. I did too. But just as I had scrambled out of the door, I don’t remember how, it began shaking like crazy. I reached the grass lawn outside, but lost balance. I rolled on the ground, something similar to a somersault, only that it was involuntary. What a weird situation to be in, I thought. To be taking an interview as a journalist and doing a somersault. It amused me. In retrospect, I must have been grinning while I rolled. Then there were aftershocks. Earthworms began to emerge from the soft grass. Walls nearby had collapsed. I couldn’t make a phone call. But I could tweet. https://twitter.com/drshn_/status/591850836575162369 Then, I realized that I simply had no idea about what I should do during an earthquake when out in the open! I remembered the public service announcements I had heard on the radio, particularly the one which used to be (don’t know if they still do) played quite frequently in the Hits FM.  None of the suggestions I knew of, like leave the lines open for people to contact each other or finding a corner to stand, hiding below a table dealt with the outdoors. I looked around me wondering if there was a certain position people were supposed to sit or crouch in. There were only five people in the lawn, me and a photographer with the Kantipur publications, Nimeshji, along with the minister, his wife and son.  I did what Nimeshji was doing, resting his elbow and knees on the grass. I realised how unprepared I was for the ‘big one’. All my life, ever since I have known that a great earthquake was due in Kathmandu, I have felt as though my life is one long wait for an earthquake. Over the years, I have indulged myself with the imagined repercussions of the earthquake in great detail. Kathmandu would be flattened. Ideally, I would be at home with all my family members. But when the earthquake did actually happen, I barely had the time to register what was happening. About 20 minutes later, I headed towards the door of the Ministerial  quarters where visitors are supposed to leave behind an identity card and they are given a visitor’s card to whichever minister’s house they are headed to. When I reach the door, the police at the gate again sent me back to get the visitor’s card I’d left behind. I had to go back and get it. The farce of it all, I thought. There is no certainty about life and what the police wants to do is to demonstrate his power or follow the rule apparently! Once out on the streets, it was clear that the only open spaces in Kathmandu for most people were its roads. Most of Kathmandu seemed to be intact while traveling on the main roads. Newer buildings survived, but those built before the 1900s (looked so) had either collapsed or were damaged partially. Thousands of people in Kathmandu had secured places for themselves in limited public spaces like in the middle of the roads, some grounds including the military parade ground that was opened to the public in central Kathmandu and in traffic island in the middle of the road. In the outskirts of the city, residents have gathered in small groups, away from their homes, to spend night. I am typing this from one of those shelters. In the case of my neighbourhood, we are spending the night under a tin shack which is under construction for a furniture shop. People are fearful of the very houses they would otherwise feel secure in. If this is what Kathmandu has been undergoing, one can only imagine the horrors people elsewhere in the country lived through. [The latest tremor I felt was about 10 minutes ago, at 11:30 pm, as I was rearranging the photos in the album below. Good night from the tin shack.] Here are some photos I took today:

Advertisements

87 comments

  1. I was in the big San Francisco Quake of ’88. I was only a kid during that time and could barely understand or conceptualize what was happening. Luckily I walked away unscathed albeit being 30 ft high in a quickly built treehouse assemble by father and I. We haven’t had any big quakes like of that magnitude in the bay area since, but the cause and effect in preparation for another quake, will be felt for an entire lifetime, for most anyway.
    It’s funny how we learn from traumatic events, especially when preparing us for the road ahead. I guess that is why mankind has been able to prevail for as long as we have. We often don’t the destruction of what a natural disaster can have until we experience it firsthand

  2. It’s so hard to “like” this, but take my like as an encouragement to hold on and fight. I do wish you and all the affected ones all the luck in this world and hope you will soon be able to forget.

  3. Reblogged this on Restart urgently needed and commented:
    Take a minute to read, look at the pictures and donate to a local organization which helps Nepal, if you can. If you can’t – make this post go viral, encourage others to help. I won’t promote anybody here, you can easily find Nepal-actions on your own.
    Trauma is trauma, no matter if it’s caused by a war or an earthquake. A human life is a human life, each one precious like any other one. Remember – you can always help others to have their restart which they urgently Need!
    DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES!

  4. I don’t know what to say… These photos… they are heartrending. The woman who was waiting for her turn to climb the tower… I don’t know how I will ever forget that.
    May it become easier… Please know that you are in our prayers…
    ❤ from Pakistan.

  5. My heart is filled with grief when i see these pictures. This is nature’s fury. It doesn’t matter which country is faced and we should not be indifferent, after all human race is affected and we should be united to help everyone in need. Thank you for posting this because it will ultimately fill everyone with a sense of humanity.

  6. I can only imagine the dramatic circumstances that the people of Nepal are currently facing. Your photos further underline an heartbreaking event, and I hope everything possible will be done by other countries/NGOs/transnational groups in order to provide Nepal with effective assistance, including the reconstruction of one of the most wonderful places in the world.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am glad that you are safe. I work with a school for children at risk of child labor in the Sankhu area and we just received notice (after several days of worry) that all the teachers and students are safe. Please continue to report on the relief and recovery efforts in Nepal. (And keep the pressure on about the new constitution!)

  8. More than 4,800 people dead. More than 9,200 injured. Eight million affected across Nepal. One million children urgently in need of help. It is very terrible tragedy for Nepal Watch this crisis, we should help them.

  9. My prayers are with Nepal. I hope everyone recovers soon, and Help is reached faster. Such a beautiful place and what a tragic event. My neighbour will shine in it’s glory once again, but for now, we all need to be in this together.
    As an Indian, I’m hurt as much as you are, I wish Nepal well.

  10. My prayers are with Nepal. I hope everyone recovers soon, and Help is reached faster. Such a beautiful place and what a tragic event. My neighbour will shine in it’s glory once again, but for now, we all need to be in this together.
    As an Indian, I’m hurt as much as you are, I wish Nepal well.

  11. This is a powerful article! However, the tragedy has already lost media presence, but donations and help are still desperately needed! I’ve just made a donation to Helvetas, please join me and spread the word!

  12. It’s very sad to see the after effects of an earthquake. Nepal a beautiful and a peaceful land. Who would have thought that shelters will fall killing thousands leaving tears behind. Thanks to all the nations who have come forward to help Nepal. God bless you all !!!

  13. love this country, love the people ! have been there 20 years ago and learned so much about life and its meaning. I hope that people will find shelter and food and that the country will be recontructed soon. Keep strong, Nepal !

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s