I was sitting for a meeting when ground started to shake. I was 7 when the last time Kathmandu was hit with a big one. My grandmother running to our backyard carrying me is the only memory I have of that incident. This was something out of a Hollywood movie. The ground stared to shake in all direction. And I practically experienced time stand still for the first in my life.
I just stood there not understanding what had just happened. My immediate reaction was to first make sure all around me were alright and then I started to reach out to my family. An hour later I headed home after knowing everyone was alright. It was like a scene out of one of those flicks. The famous Patan Damkal had collapsed. I saw injured people, women frantically crying for help and the streets turn into a complete pandemonium. The ground never quit shaking for the next 24 hours. I did not sleep that night. We huddled up in one room. We really do not have a lot of open spaces close to where we live. One closest is within the Singha Durbar parade ground. But a 10 foot wall separates us. We decided to be smart and brave at the same time. But when the second large after shock hit I saw the house that was a symbol of comfort and safety become the biggest threat to my family. We decided it was best to be out in the open. My brother and I quickly managed to transport the family to my relative’s house with an open garden in front of the house. We camped out for the next two days in the garage. We shared space, comforted each other, shared food and smiles. Slowly though still with tremors we moved back to the house which had no eminent threat or damage.
I work all the time and 4 days of inactivity, fear and sleepless nights took a toll on me. I knew the only way to get back to being “normal”, I would have to start working again. I no longer had a café to run but like so many other people made the same choice to HELP. Next day with friends of my brother, cousins and some of my own friends we started a relief operation. No one really knew what we were supposed to do.
Eleven days later we had distributed over 1150 tents, 16 Tons of rice, solar-powered chargers, medical supplies and basic care to over 10 villages in 4 districts. In the 4th day our IT team had developed a web-based application to manage inventory. A network of engineers, educators, pharmacists, architect, and entrepreneurs had created an effective supply chain management system. Amidst all the chaos and fear we had forgotten that the ground is still shaking.
I knew we could not be helping if it was not making sense. Thus we paused.
We decided to fall back to life as it was before April 25, 2015.
I reopened my café. This allowed us time to reflect. For me and also for the team. I also had to keep an eye out for the Red Mud family.
But something crazy happened on May 12, 2015. As I was just starting to sit for another meeting regarding work with a Dutch friend the ground shook again. I was again in the same place, in a similar situation with few new people. Déjà vu.
This time my fear quadrupled because I had already accepted reality and had begun the process of moving forward. This was like going back in time. Or 2 weeks being erased from your life.
I at this point simply do not know what to make of the situation we are in.
The phrase “one day at a time” has a completely new meaning. No choice but to be brave. Feel fortunate. And keep moving. We are waiting at this point for the system to come back in place. But every time the ground shakes we are back to square one. Practically everyone who has been through this now needs time to heal.
We never had imagined we would see a time as dark as this. We have seen the true nature of people. We have seen how sluggish our system is. How unprepared we are. That there is a lesson to be learned here.
But I feel optimistic that the shaking will stop. The ones helping will keep helping. The young people of Nepal will not wait for anyone. New leaders will emerge from the rubble. Change is here and I am hopeful that it is for the better. 15000 were murdered and over 8000 more abruptly taken for this change to occur. Nepal has paid a big price for this change.
The land of Buddha will truly spread the message of peace to the world. The people of Pashupatinath will rise from the ashes. The roof of the world will shine again.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston S. Churchill