My earthquake story…
I was training in the ignoble art of CPG sales in Ahmedabad, the capital of a state prone to earthquakes. And I had chosen to stay on the 11th floor, rooming with a friend from B-School. This is one of those “it can’t happen to me” phenomena. I was staying in a city where the most devastating earthquake to hit Asia had paid a visit in 2001, and yet it never crossed my mind that it could happen again…maybe to me.
To further draw me away from reality, another acquaintance had come over to stay with us because he was training with his company too. Now I know this guy to be a solid Class-A top-drawer pain in the ass. The kind of guy who simply has to proffer an opinion on how to hold a handbag correctly to the lady who has just had it snatched by a thief. Or, on the mating habits of rabbits and how to keep their numbers controlled so the damage that has happened to the poor farmer’s field wouldn’t have happened. Yes, he’s that kind of guy.
So anyway, me and my roomie were chilling with mojitos around 10pm and Mr Unsolicted Advice was soundly snoring away inside. Suddenly, we noticed ourselves swaying. Our first reaction was to giggle like juveniles thinking the mojito was playing tricks. We even attempted a staggering walk towards each other. 2 seconds later, the smile vanished when we realized the darned floor was actually moving.
I quickly rushed into my room to grab the watch wifey had presented to me from her first salary, and also to wake up Unsolicited Advice. That was tougher than I imagined. He muttered “hota hai” (it happens) and turned on his side in an attempt at deeper slumber. My roomie was staring incredulously at this idiot and was about to kick him off the bed. Instead, I yelled in his ear that there was an earthquake and we better haul-ass to save ourselves. That got him moving.
As if climbing down the stairs from the 11th floor to ground wasn’t an arduous enough task with the building swaying, Mr Advice grandly stopped in the middle of the staircase and declared with the air of one having a divine epiphany: “We should go to the roof, so if the building falls we will fall on top of everything else”. Roomie was having an apoplectic fit and would have thrown him off the ledge if I hadn’t stopped him. With an admirable exercise in self-control and much angry word-swallowing, Roomie grunted at him to get with the program and continue running down.
On the 8th floor landing, a 300-pound woman was having histrionics in the middle of the staircase and blocking the way for everyone else. Her sons were having a tough time reasoning with her. We just looked at each other and knew what to do. Sons took a leg each, roomie and I managed an arm each and Mr. Advice provided moral support.
And so we huffed and we puffed and we made our way down. Of course, the quake had petered out on our way down so everything was still and normal when we reached the ground. Seeing this, Mr Advice declared “all this fuss for nothing, might as well have slept” and topped it off with his patent annoying laugh.
300-pound reluctant ladies, brainless guests, shaking floors and two mojitos were simply too much for Roomie to take in. In controlled Hindi he replied “Abe m@#$%$%$, mooh band rakh nahin to ek kan ke neeche rakh doonga”, which roughly translated into gentlemanly English means “shut your trap, or else…”.
There was a welcome quiet that descended on our trio for the next one hour. As life returned to normalcy we made our way up to the apartment, me and Roomie snickering away uncontrollably and our guest pensively climbing the stairs, wondering, presumably, about the advice he could give the builder on Reinforced Cement Concrete.
Or maybe he was wondering where he was going to spend the night.