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The Loo-ey Earthquake

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I could just imagine the news. I could just imagine the embarrassment I would feel in the grave - recalling those dead moments when a rescue worker found my body in the loo - with my pants down!!

Indonesia is hit by earthquakes on a regular basis. I knew that. I also knew that Singapore rests quite away from fault lines - unlikely to be ever hit by one. Sometimes you feel tremors from Indonesian earthquakes. If you are in and around the Central Business District area the tremors can be felt quite strong.

My first experience was about five years ago. I was having one of those days at work where I wished I could just go back home and snuggle under the comforter. Well, somehow I managed to get through the first half of the day. We had a hot summery lunch hour, and then I was back in my cubicle trying to make sense of the text on screen, but try as I might I just couldn't move my eyes or brain anymore. So I decided to take a break and go to the office-goer's sanctuary. That one place that is totally legit. Nobody can raise questions on why you are not at your desk and there. And your boss can't ever give you the "you could be making better use of your time" look. And so I went to the loo. After I was done, I was feeling so lethargic, I just didn't want to get up. I took a deep sigh. Hung my head. Trying to motivate myself to get up. Because that meant the end of the loo break. But I just sat there and sat there ... and sat there .... and my eyes turned all hazy ... my mind was all foggy and I felt myself falling backwards ... a heavy pull on my head ... my body gravitating to the ground ... a beautiful heavy pull ...

OMG I almost fell asleep on the pot!

But only not! Because I couldn't really straighten my world! Because the next moment I suddenly felt a THAD-THAD-THAD-THAD. Something was shaking the damn pot. Violently. And only then it hit me that this was an earthquake. OMG,a bloody EARTHQUAKE and I was on the pot!! God God God, I prayed. I tried to hurriedly get up and make myself decent and just get out of the damn loo. Because I sure as hell didn't want to die in there. Every movement and every moment seemed like an aeon. My hands fumbling with my clothes. Damn that lycra! THAD-THAD-THAD-THAD. Goddd, somebody help me open the damn door! My hands fumbled. I couldn't get that latch to open. God God God, If I have to die. It's fine. But please don't let me die in here, please don't let me die in here. I could just imagine the news. I could just imagine the embarrassment I would feel in the grave recalling those dead moments when a rescue worker found my body in the loo - with my pants down!! Please don't let me die in here Allah. Pleaseeee, it's THE LOO Allah! Why you want to kill me in the loo??? What did I ever do to deserve a death in the toilet??!

Ok so he answered my prayers. I didn't die in the loo. When I came out. All was calm. The afternoon was sultry as ever. I was expecting chaos. I was expecting helter-skelter. But nothing.

I went inside. My cubicle partner was sitting there normally. "Parijat" I called out. But he had his huge noise cancellation speakers on. (Which I mostly think he got to cancel out my uninvited chatter). "Parijat!" I knocked at his desk and waved my hand before him. He finally looked up, slid his headphones down, peered through his spectacles with a "yeah" and a silent unsaid "don't you know better than to disturb a techie busy coding?"

"Did you feel the earthquake?"

"Earthquake, what earthquake?"

"The one that just happened....?"

"No..." he shrugged casually and shook his head. Giving me a "was there really one or did you just imagine it?" smile.

"Ok...." I said and sat down. Then I felt so foolish about the loo drama, I had to hide my embarrassment from my own self. But there was an earthquake. But only in Indonesia, and only average tremors were felt in Singapore. And since most people were so used to it, they would barely feel the low-intensity ones.

But I did. That too in the DAMN LOO.

I moved into a new apartment on the 8th floor a few days after that. I was still squatting on the spare mattress in the living room. One day, I woke up to a swaying building, also realizing that I was late to work! I didn't panic this time. Just didn't know what I was supposed to do. Okay, okay, truth is I ran out. Barefoot. In my nightclothes - a bizarre combination of an Indian salwar bottom and a spaghetti top (imagine that in the newspapers!). Then I ran back. I thought I should get my handbag and passport. Then I looked out the window. Everybody and everything was calm. Just the taller buildings were swaying like tipsy coconut trees. I called my friend and now roomie Neha. And she went "Oh don't worry, it's just a light earthquake - there has been no evacuation so far. Go back to sleep". Turns out that the buildings are designed to sway so that they can dispel the tension. Else they'll crash. Well that was good to know.

I got used to the tremors over time. There was another one a couple of days later. But this time, I loved it. I felt like I was on the sea. Oh so nice and gentle and swayy .... rock-a-by-babie.... Mmmm it felt like a waterbed actually - cos I was still sleeping. At 8.30 AM. On a wednesday! EIGHT THIRTY?? Late again. Oops!

I tend to think that every time I was slack with office - God sent an earthquake. Since then, I have either been super nerdy about my job or fervently prayed to God when I was lazy. Of course I have added this one line to my permanent list of prayers. "Allah, please pleeeeassee don't let me die with my pants down!!"

And I never - never spend more time in the loo than required!


Unknown said...

hahaha I remember laughing so hard when you first told me this story!
PS: just got back to B'lore, will give you a call soon