Friday, January 21, 2011
A quake that got me rushing down the stairs in Noida
Travelling and meeting people is one of the things I’ve always loved and during my days as the PR head for a leading South Indian-based company, I enjoyed being on the move. In recent years there hasn’t been as much travel as I would have liked – travel on work, that is – but things are likely to change.
Well, earlier this week, I was in Delhi to attend the Printpack 2011 exhibition at Pragati Maidan. The weather was simply gorgeous and I enjoyed myself, both at the exhibition and outside. I’ve of course been to Delhi several times but this time it was a different capital city, with many more huge flyovers (Chennai’s flyovers are really no match for those in Delhi, except perhaps for the Kathipara grade separator) and the Metro. The Metro has changed the lives of many, young and old, men and women, workers as well as executives and businessmen. More about the Metro in a bit…
There was a surprise in Delhi waiting for me… an earthquake, the night the Indian cricketers beat the South Africans. It’s boring sometimes when you are alone in a hotel room and when there’s little to do except reading or watching television. I kept watching the match and decided to take a short nap before the last overs. When I woke up, the match had just ended. As I trotted to the toilet, I felt the room shaking and held on to the side wall, wondering whether I was having a dizzy spell. A few seconds later, the room shook again, this time more violently, and it continued for what seemed endless seconds. I sort of panicked and instinctively switched on the news channels.
There are some channels that do work late into the night. India TV and Aaj Tak flashed the news within ten minutes of the quake, even going on to say that Noida (where I was staying), Gurgaon, Faridabad and Ghaziabad were rocked by a quake that measured 7.4 on the Richter Scale. I rushed downstairs in my pyjamas, with my mobile phones, wallet and camera. The Christmas tree in the lobby had toppled and the two men on duty were wondering what to do. It was too cold to be hovering outside. We chatted and had hot masala chai and after about an hour I took courage to get back into my room. However, I couldn’t find sleep till about 4am. An experience I’m unlikely to forget in a hurry.
Pictures show the building that shook, a view from outside my window of Noida’s congested roads, and the family nearby who makes a living from selling knick-knacks. The man’s wife refused to be photographed although he pleaded with her. But she came back to see the picture I had taken and smiled.