By Pratishtha Dobhal
Date: 25/04/2015; Time: 11:30
A: “Earthquake, earthquake…” (Call from Patparganj, East Delhi)
P: “What? I don’t feel anything.” (In Vasant Kunj, South Delhi)
(Pause, for five seconds, while P scrambles to change and there’s commotion at A’s end)
P: (Changed) “Yeah, I think I can feel it too now”.
Off the phone. Father sitting infront of the laptop, nodding his head. “Yeah, I can feel it too, and from where I am sitting it feels like a horizontal plate shift.”
Mum, heads to the main door, and exclaims aloud, “Why isn’t anyone out of their house?
Some neighborhood aunt. “Haan, it feels quite powerful”.
Me: Watching the motions, panicking, thinking of disaster survival kit. Checking facebook. Updating facebook. Trying to call D.
The quake starts wearing off. The satellite box is alive and all channels have their ticker running with breaking news.
Where was the epicenter?
Nepal,7.9 on richter scale, early reports say heritage building and infrastructure is in ruins–Signals and news out of Nepal is choppy. Government doles out pieces of information. Not too sure of the casualties.
I switch between facebook and twitter besides news channels for more information on devastation, disaster.
The newsfeed is flooded with earthquake updates.Some express shock, some slept through the tremor, some reluctantly updated earthquake status’s, and some are looking for a funny bone in a breaking news.
And then there are some, ‘companies’ like troika consulting, lenskart,and viral go-to buzz-feedish scoopwhoop,trying to ride the wave of a pretty grim tragedy which took place in the neighborhood.
Despicable, opportunist, short sighted.
Troika thought it best to be resourceful enough to look for talent. Opportunist loss. When signals are out of reach, people are going to resort to social platforms to check in with their loved ones if they are safe. Troika will soon be handing out jobs to people who may have lost someone or are trying to reach someone far flung in the affected area. Stupid and unnecessary. Any publicity is not good publicity.
Lenskart decided the only way to shake off earthquake news was to put out discount on brands. Who said you couldn’t kill two birds with one stone? Survival of the quickest, right. To You Lenskart: Shameful.
And finally, virality. How could short feed with all that drama not alleviate the magnitude of the tragedy? Response cells, critical information can sit in cold storage, the readers are going to respond to mindless lists with movie screen shots. My thought of the day to you: disappointing and a disservice to independent voices.
Loss of perspective–everything may fall short of expressing how I feel. I am angry.
The one true thing that should humble each one of us ‘should’ be a natural disaster. No nukes or warheads can equip you for it. Everyone in the face of a disaster, regardless of caste, creed, colour, race, or religion is at danger. It’s bigger than us. Time and again, earth and nature send us reminders of it. Yet, we do nothing.
And while mother nature has patiently borne the plight of our tantrums, it may be running out of patience soon enough. Giving us warnings from time to time, hoping we control the greed and gluttony, and find an equilibrium. To purge us to extinction isn’t so hard. Time is the one thing we never have enough of, and hoping for a time machine isn’t going to help you buy more of it. Just use it wisely.
‘Gold fish people’.
We easily forget and move on, because who knows when the next opportunity comes? Perhaps the weight of money may cushion a fall when the earth cracks open or buildings fall. Every nation trying to create an identity should remember that without containing the chaos of our excessive selves and our neo-imperialist tendencies, all that we amass should soon be lost.
If you cannot contain a disaster atleast build modules and infrastructure to contain the devastating effects of it. Now that tragedy has struck, come out in numbers to do your bit, get in touch with the good. Think of tomorrow, and make your present a little more about someone else other than yourself. Put the you, before the I.
*Just Came In as I am putting this piece together: BSNL (Calls to Nepal will be charged as per local call rates). Let’ see if other service providers will do the same.
Bihar–worst hit in India.
Death count in Nepal so far during search and rescue operations: 1,500 — on record
(scoopwhoop and lenskart image courtesy: http://www.officechai.com)