Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I feel the earth move...

Singapore was shaken by two tremors today.

The first occurred just before lunch as I was talking to a rather important corporate stakeholder. We were just wrapping up our conversation when I suddenly saw my desk sway, and the white board next to me rattle. Then Leafy, my trusty desk plant started swaying to and fro. I felt this familiar sick sensation in the pit of my stomach, which put me right back that spring morning in Wellington, when just as I was having my cereal in front of the morning telly, I felt the exact same vibrations.

I remember that morning, smiling at D in relief when the tremors were over, and just as said smile was beginning to fade on my lips, the real shakes began. It was one of the most frightening moments in my life. Our Wellington apartment, at the top of Cuba St was swanky, new and earthquake proof, i.e. it swayed. A lot. Our CDs were flung out like in a poltergeist movie, our paintings fell over and D and I dove for cover. My cereal bowl remaining miraculously upright. When it was over, I sat on the couch shaking in fright and burst into tears. It was only after when I was more collected and at work that I realised I had experienced my first major earthquake.

So back to this morning. The tremors went for about 10 (for me, very long) seconds. I looked at my colleagues D and L in alarm. All of us not really sure what had just happened. Construction maybe? But this was unlike anything we'd ever felt. I sort of went a bit manic, put on my walking shoes, and headed out the door before anyone could say anything!

What I saw downstairs was even more surreal. Masses of office workers evacuated from their office buildings, all looking around, up, down, at the sky - it was like a scene from some alien disaster movie. Almost expected some bespectacled suits to start running being chased by malevolent tentacled things!

But in the spirit of all things Singaporean, anxiety and panicked glances gave way quickly to hunger pangs. Most of the evacuees slouched off for early lunch breaks, whilst others hung around taking photos on their mobiles. I was no different, taking photos while waiting for my hot dog to be prepared no less!

Got back to work, and within about an hour the second tremor struck. NZ earthquake behaviour took over and I put on my sturdy shoes ready to dive under my desk.

That's it. I'm bringing my worn out Nikes tomorrow and a blanket. Also some water and cans of tuna.

And my sudoku puzzle book, a pencil and torchlight.

While I'm blogging here, over in the epicentre of the quake in Indonesia, more than 70 people have lost their lives. It's so awful to think how terrifying it must be for the people who have suffered through it. And sadder yet to think about all the calamities that have befallen the country.

Made me think of a Hermann Melville quote I found recently for a speech my boss was giving. "We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibres, our actions run as causes and return to us as results."

How true. Right this minute, I'm going to be a better person. I'm going to be more patient, more compassionate, and appreciate the little things. Like a good sleep. And a quiet read before the lights go out.

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