Yesterday was a friends birthday. It is also one the days in Nepal I will never forget.
Yes it was the day I felt the earth moving beneath my feet and I waas totally helpless.When the earthqauke struck, I was in bed chacking my mail and catching up with friens on Twitter. I was planning to get a shower right afterwards and so I had removed my trousers.
My room mate was in the computer room also checking her mail.
A few minutes before the earhqauke struck I had this urge to cry and laugh at the same time. My house mate wanted to come to my room and ask what was going on but i pleasdd with her not to come to my room. I couldnt understand my mood.
15 minutes later, I felt my bed shaking. I looked at the floor and it moving left asnd right. I heard my roommate screaming calling my name in fear and all I could say was - It is going to be alright. Just stand at the beam. I also ran beneath a beam in the house. Our friends had adviced us to do so incase of an earthqauke.
But the shaking continued. And now, in addition to the shaking there were screams from neignbours and accompanied by sounds of footsteps running down the stairs. We live in a four storey building, but we stay in the seocnd floor.
As the shaking grew more intense, my roommate kep calling my name and so I ran and tood with her. All this time one thought kept croissing my mind. Oh Lord, may this not be Haiti.I remember praying - Jesus help us. Jesus help us - It is all I could pray as we held hands with my roommate.
The shaking stopped for a few seconds, we dashed to the door in a need to leave the building. The lock seemed stack and just couldnt seem to open fast enough. I realised I didnt have a trouser and needed to cover myself. But still I firts had to get the door open. It eventually opened and I asked my roommate to go out as I went looking for a kanga( wrapper) to tie around my waist. There was none in sight and so grabbed my towel along with my phone dashed off - barefoot.
I found my roommate still going down the stairs and urged her to run - I overtook her and out the gate I sped on looking for open ground. There were crowds outside.Everyone speaking in high tones. The power lines went off. But the shaking had stopped.
I still felt scared becasue of the narrow lanes betwen building in Nepal. At the backc of my mind, I felt like shouting to everyone to get away from the buidlings and dash to an open area incase there were aftershockcs and the buildings collapsed. But they wouldnt understand me - very a few Nepali in our neighbourgood speak or understand English
And so I called my roommate and we stood aside from the crowd ready to dash to an open filed 50metres close by. I took my phone and tried to make a phonecall but the network was conjested. I tried to tweet, what wass happening, the connection was off.
5 minutes later the powerlines went back on and people started goingback to their houses. It is then that my legs started shaking. I now ralise that I had been acting on adreline. We still didnt feel confident enough to get into our building, but we knew we had to - If only to get shoes and a jacket or cadigan. And so we got the courage, got int the house.
In 2minutes we had dressed, filled a bag with water, some juice from the fridge and dashed back out of the house. Our land ladies son asked my roommate where we were going. We had no answer. We just knew we didnt want to be in the buidling.
Again we tried calling our friends. Our birthday friend's pjhone went through. He said that when it happened, he thought he wondered why he was drunkand he hadnt been drinking! When he realised it was an earth quake he ran out of the house barefoot he advised us to stay in the outside for 10 to 15 more minutes. we styed out for an hour! Within that hour we went and shopped for snacks to put in our emergency kit. The Kit which has essentials and one change of clothes is now next to the door.
We spent the rest of the evenning calling family and friends. We were alright. But shaken. We asked for prayers.
As the phone network was congested. The only way I could reach my friends or family ws through facebook and twitter.
On twitter I serached for updates on the quake and found different hashtags on - #Nepla #sikkim #eqnepal #sept18quake and #India. People were quicly updating friends and family on the earthqauke. Everyone had a story on where they were whenit happened - including this journalist (http://wagle.com.np/2011/09/18/the-earthquake-that-rocked-us/). There was also lots of advice on what to do from @HumanityRoad and medical/ first tips from @1stAid. All very useful and within an hour of the incident
It is on Twitter that I learnt that the epicentre of the earthquake was in Sikkim. Sikkim is India's least populous state with located in the Himalays between Nepal, bhuttan and Tibet. I also learnt about the impact of the qauke as reported by the Guardian ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/18/earthquake-india-nepal). But most of the updates came from strangers, people looking out for one another- Citizen journalism.
From FEMA I brushed up on what to do after an earthquake (http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_after.shtm)
My saddest part was that the people in the villages dont have acess to the internet for quick updates on what is going on or First Aid tips. I would also urge people to use social media responsibly and not spread panic.
I am happt to be alive and thankfuil for all who checked on us and encouraged us to be calm and strong. It helped. My condolences to the families who lost loved ones.
And now I undersand my urge to laugh and cry at the same time. Sadness for the lost and joy and relief for being alive.
Here is a link to a video on the earthquake captured on a supermarket security camera http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZoZNVFDUHA&sns=fb