There was an earthquake today. A little after 9am.
It wasn’t at all what I expected but I was sure that was what it was.
I was sitting at my desk and there was a thump – short and sharp – as if the building had been hit by a truck or maybe even a JCB.
It was momentary. No dogs howled. The sparrows kept up their cheeping. There were no big vehicles in our lane. Nothing else happened.
What was I to do up on the first floor? The current wisdom is to stay away from stairs, and windows. But was this heralding another Big One?
What did I need?
I thought about the shoes I was wearing.
I put my wallet in my back pocket. I put my passport in the other pocket and started to ponder what else I might grab. I thought about a jumper, and saving my work on the computer. And saving my computer.
Nothing else happened though and I settled back to my work, at my desk, thinking I’d misinterpreted the thump. It hadn’t felt like an earthquake. The last time I experienced one was in Peru where I was sleeping on the ground in a tent. It felt like some giant had grabbed the ground and yanked it back and forth, just a few times. That time it was clearly a tremor. No doubt about it.
Then S messaged me.
He hadn’t noticed anything, but the earthquake alarm in the office had gone off and the staff had fled, leaving him alone at his desk. So many people in the Valley have bad memories of all that happened in 2015. His colleagues were saying that this one probably around 5.0. It turned out to be 4.1; the epicentre was in Mukwanpur, south east of the city.
So what I’d felt had been a quake, but one so slight that it will have harmed no-one. People here say that little quakes are good. They ease the tension in the rocks.
It is a reminder though that the mountains can shake themselves any time they feel like it, and we are like fleas on a dogs back just hoping the dog doesn’t shake itself too hard or scratch too much.
| The congested Kathmandu Valley (viewed from Chobhar hill)