As evidenced by my previous blog post, the whole family was enjoying a lovely summer break – lazying around and just letting life pass by – Idyllic. Maybe even too idyllic. But sloth is definitely a sin and so we experienced a serious earth-shattering jolt to shake us all up. Quite literally we were bang in the middle of Nepal’s devastating earthquake.
It started off as a usual Saturday (weekly holiday in Nepal). It was midday and the home buzzed with the sounds of mama in and out the kitchen. She had just finished setting up her crockery cupboard and was taking a break on the sofa while monitoring where papa should be hammering the nails for the paintings. Papa was hanging the paintings and setting up the broadband area. My granny (beeji) and children were taking a break from the outdoors and were enjoying some tv. I had just dashed upstairs and was scrambling through a cupboard when the first of the tremors were felt. I wondered why the cupboard was rattling away (Mental note: I must tell papa to tighten the screws). Then the shaking became so vigorous that one could barely walk to the doorway. The huge house started to sway, and the sound of things crashing could be heard. The sound was deafening. I had no idea where anyone was and whether they had made their way safely outdoors or not. For a fleeting second the rattling stopped and I dashed downstairs jumping over fallen cupboards and made my way out. Luckily we had all made it out safe and sound with a loud thumping in our chests and a shaking beyond the tremors. We watched the house rattle away and felt the ground under us grumble and shake. Peanut and Buttercup were visibly shaken; Nawab and Wazir wouldn’t leave our side. Slowly in front of us we saw homes crumble to the ground and with every loud thundering tremor we heard even louder sounds of destruction. Amidst all this devastation we exchanged our individual escapes out of the house. Mama and our help – Thapa ran towards the door but the door wouldn’t open. The house was shaking so vigorously that the door had got jammed. Papa ran to get beeji and the children out of the house. Beeji couldn’t even stand without falling back onto the bed till papa had to firmly hold her and escort her outside. Peanut somehow understood the severity of the situation and ran with Papa. Buttercup was frozen at her place, crying away, till Papa had to get her moving and out. Somehow the door pulled away and we all ran to safer grounds.
Within minutes family and friends started to connect with us through the patchy network and that is when we realized the true severity of what had just happened. We were more than lucky to have escaped unscratched while thousand others were trapped, left with no homes and some with no family members.
With every passing hour, as the tremors kept coming we got a little braver and would rush in to get some important items – food, woolens etc only to be rushed out in time by the earthquake alarm (Gave us a 10 second window to dash out. Incidentally when it went off the first time, it kind of got lost in the daily humdrum with no one’s antenna up for an extra sound – beep.).
My sister was on her way to join us in this vacation and got stuck at the Delhi airport. The airline was good enough to put her up within the airport and the next morning she was on her way to KTM.
The scene at the airport was of utter chaos as would have been expected after such a calamity. But it was amazing to see rescue teams coming in and providing relief work.
For the next couple of days we survived on whatever ration we had, no electricity, conserving the little water we had and sleeping in the outdoors. Our well wishers suggested and implored us to leave KTM but ‘flight’ has never been an option for my Naval Officer dad and so we stayed put.
We stayed put even though we lived in a garage which had only 3 sides covered, braved more of mother nature’s wrath in the torrential rainfall we experienced at night and the severe cold that it resulted in.
My dad’s confidence that we will tide over things, his workmanship at turning the garage into a safe haven, my mom’s ability to somehow have warm meals ready for everyone at all meal times, my sister and children as good company and endless messages and calls from our well wishers and we were ready to take on this adversity together as a ‘family’. That is what counted at the end of the day.
It was by no means a vacation that I would wish upon anyone nor a repeat for us but the essence was heartwarming. It was back to the old ages of waking up to the sunrise and finishing meals and sleeping by sunset. True bonding occurred without any electronic disturbance or distraction.
Peanut and Buttercup might have experienced their first adversity a tad too soon but I hope their memories are filled with a summer vacation where the entire family happily lived in one garage space and where the whole family cozied up at night to protect each other from the cold nights. For sure Peanut will remember the garage (I was telling Peanut – ‘in our house…’, he replied matter-of-factly– ‘this is not a house, it is a shed’). 🙂
Oh well..in anycase just like that a memory was created in a shed in Nepal.