Disaster


“No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”

Travel & Leisure

Huge landslide on our way to Gangtok


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Jaya, her father and I were coming to Gangtok yesterday to see my son, Babai. He’s studying MBBS at SMIMS in Gangtok. We came from Ranchi via Kolkata.

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The flight reached Bagdogra airport on time. The cab was already booked and we proceeded for Gangtok, which is around 125 km. We stopped at the City Centre for our lunch at KFC and had tea at the Tea Junction there.

It’s a mountainous road with beautiful natural surroundings. Teesta river flowing by the road adds to the beauty. However, this road is landslide prone area. Often landslides blocks the National Highway 31A. Now that monsoon has started the frequency of landslides increased. We faced our first blockade in between Sevokeshwari Kali Temple and Coronation bridge. It’s not a landslide, but an electric pole had fallen on the road and a bus trying to pass got stuck on the mud, thus the blockade. All big vehicles lined up on the side of the road. We were in a Toyota Innova. We along with other cars managed to pass under the pole.

We were happy that the first encounter with blockade didn’t take much time, maybe took around half an hour.  But then we found us at the end of a long queue of cars near Swetijhora. It’s a landslide!

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I walked ahead to the slide area to see the situation. I reached there after walking almost three-quarters of a kilometer.

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This road is maintained by a unit of Indian Army – General Reserve Engineer Force or GREF, in short.  GREF personnel were busy there with bulldozer to clear the debris and level the road.

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Monkeys were watching the hapless people waiting for the road to be cleared.

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After almost an hour the road was cleared. But then the traffic coming down was allowed to pass first. The narrow patch was enough for a vehicle to pass. The traffic was then allowed from both sides in batches, one by one. We had to wait another 15-20 minutes to get our chance to pass through. Thank God!

Nature & Environment, Travel & Leisure

Earthquake Jolts Sikkim


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A severe earthquake rocked Sikkim on Sunday evening resulting in at least 20 deaths and injuries to several others. The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale which hit the east and Northeast region, was the biggest in 20 years. The epicentre of the quake was 64 km from Gangtok in Sikkim, causing major damages in the area. Aftershocks measuring 6.1 and 5.3 on the Richter Scale were also felt around Sikkim 20 minutes after the earthquake. This is the fourth earthquake in India in this current month of September 2011. Three earlier earthquakes hit Manipur, Haryana and Gujarat in September 2011.

There were also reports of landslides following the earthquake in areas around Sikkim and also Darjeeling. It was raining heavily since yesterday and this has made the situation worse. Two major landslides have been reported from Sikkim’s capital, Gangtok cutting off the National Highway. Several buildings have also been damaged in Gangtok. Mobile connectivity and power supply have also been affected in the quake-hit areas.

I was very much tense and worried for Jaya and Babai. They were traveling to Gangtok. As I sat with lunch after returning from office at around 4.00 pm Baghdad time, I opened the TV and saw the breaking news. I forgot my lunch and started calling both Jaya and Babai. The line was busy and no call could be established. I sent sms and it was delivered! But, still there was no response. In the evening I felt relaxed when I received a short call from Jaya and Babai that they are safe in a hotel in Siliguri. The quake caused the network and power black-outs. The same was also being reported in the TV but I was tense as I was not getting any info.

They were on the way up the mountain. Suddenly they felt shock and the driver thought that it was a case of tyre burst. He got down to check. The tyres were ok. People there told them that was an earthquake. The driver parked the car on the side as it’s not advisable to drive during earthquake. There was a long queue of traffic due to the tremor. There were reports of massive landslides on the way to Gangtok.  It was getting dark. They were very fortunate that they were not caught between two landslides otherwise they would have no option other than to spend the night in the car until the road is partly cleared. They decided to turn back and reached Sliguri and checked in a hotel waiting for the road to be cleared. It would probably take 2 days to clear the stones and debris on the road.

Thank God that Jaya and Babai are safe. Let us pray that people of Sikkim are safe. It’s truly the gorgeous part of India.

Miscellaneous & Offbeat

My bed crashed last night


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Last night while I was asleep, suddenly my bed crashed down in the middle of night.😦 Thank God, I was not injured. Then I managed the night sleeping on the bed balancing on two small tables. I had one such table in my room and brought another from our living room downstairs.

In the morning, I called Mahmood Tabaan. He fixes the things in our house. The bed is balanced on some boards with no proper beads. He nailed the boards and then put some empty Quaker cans to support and avoid the bed crashing down again!!

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Hope this ‘jugaad‘ will last longer and I can have some comfortable sleeps. Jugaad literally means an improvised arrangement or work-around, which has to be used because of lack of resources, sometimes pejoratively used for solutions that bend rules, or a person who can solve a complicated issue. This term is widely used in India and by people of Indian origin around the world.