Monday, April 27, 2015


Saturday morning, 11.45, I was lying in bed. I seemed to be moving, not much, not much more than a heartbeat, but not in time with my heartbeat. Was I dreaming, imagining? I ignored it, but it kept happening. And the bedside lamp seemed to be rattling, not much, just a tiny bit.

I got up, and asked Mary, in the kitchen, if she’d felt an earthquake. She said ‘no sir,’ emphatically, with a smile. Oh…

Then Jen came in the backdoor, asking the same question. She hadn’t felt anything, but Franklin, waiting for her in the car, had felt the car, bumping one way and another.

So we were agreed, there had been a tremor.

I sent an SMS to a journalist and asked had he felt it. Yes he had. Twenty minutes later, he sent me another text: Nepal.

Last count, the death toll was up into the thousands, the devastation immense. And the journalist was still standing by for a flight into Kathmandu, on one of the few flights able to get into the airport amidst the horrendous weather in the days following the earthquake.

It was just a tiny tremor, a little shake, and a few hundred kilometres away, people’s lives were getting shaken to bits.

Here in Delhi, in the days’ following, newspapers carry stories about New Delhi, and the fact that 80% of the buildings here don’t comply with seismic code requirements to prevent their collapse in the event of a major earthquake. Probably because there’s no legal framework to implement the requirements. Delhi is a high risk earthquake zone, with frequent quakes in the 5-6 range, a few in the 6-7 range, and occasionally an even bigger one. There have been five major earthquakes in Delhi in the last 200 years. The most recent moderate quake was in 2012 (5.2). Other, larger, ones elsewhere have knocked on in Delhi as well.

We’ll be alright in our place of course, should there be a major earthquake in Delhi, but we’d be in the midst of almighty chaos.

Like Nepal.

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