It was an unusually beautiful Saturday morning in Gurgaon, India. Until the shaking began. From the top floor of a 15 story building, I at once knew that something was very wrong. Coming from California, you expect buildings to withstand shaking of a certain magnitude. Here, all bets are off. More often than not, buildings are not built to any sort of standard, and earthquakes are not common.
After 20 seconds of shaking, I grabed my shoes and ran to Dan's room and shouted for him to leave the building. He, in only his underware and laptop. Me, in track pants and shoes ran for the stairs. Only one of the two sets of emergency stairs were unlocked and the stairwell was clogged with people trying to get out. The building continued to shake. I began to worry that this may not be a quake at all. They just don't last this long. I reached the 10th floor, the building STILL shaking. We looked at our watches, the shaking had been going for almost a minute! Terror hits you in a tight stairwell. What is this? Why is the building still shaking? How will I get out?
Needless to say we eventually reached the bottom and stood in a vacant lot waiting with the hundreds of others for some sign of what we experienced and if our building was safe. At this point, I was glad that I had grabbed my shoes. Poor Dan was burning in the sun without his shirt and his feet in the dirty ground without shoes. But he had his laptop. Two weeks ago, Dan had a dream that there was going to be an earthquake and that he would grab his Apple Powerbook. He did.
We finally made our way back up 15 floors, stair by stair. Hearts pounding half from fear and half from being out of shape. The early reports from CNN say that this was a 7.6 centered in Pakastan. But the shaking here was long and bad. I have NEVER felt an earthquake that lasted this long. A minute is a very LONG time when you are fleeing a 15 story building.
I have another week before I can leave India. Another long week.
-The Dusty Sage