Chuck's travels

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Another discussion on quakes

In the past two weeks or so, we have experienced three earthquakes. One was a decently big one, which I described some days back. This was when we were roaming around Shinjuku camera shops … the one that caused trains to stop. The other two were in the middle of the night and were relatively very small ones. Problem is that now we r in the new location, which is a high rise building with 11 floors. Bhargava is in the 11th floor and Sateesh is in the 10th floor. I am in the 6th floor. One of us is getting more than a bit worried, I think while the other two share a bit of his concern though not yet alarmed. Thing is – this new building has a lift service and a staircase, which is a small one that winds down the building on the outside. i.e. – when we r going down the stairs, we r actually very near to the edge of the building … in ordinary circumstances it is totally safe but still not for the faint hearted or those with vertigo. In times of a quake, personally I don’t think I will even try that staircase. And one is advised not to use lifts in case of an earthquake coz they will most probably go out of order and u will be stuck in the middle till someone frees u. So if there is an earthquake, the only option for us is to sit in our apartments and hope for the best. Not a comforting thought while sitting on the 6th, 10th or 11th floor of a building where we know no one … the area is also not a really residential one, unlike the previous one (Gyo Toku) which was completely residential … not to mention that earlier building was a single storied one … as the worried guy put it – “I could jump out of my window and run if there was any problem … now I need a parachute to jump out”.

It is not as if an earthquake is gonna come tomorrow … but the thing is that Japan is supposed to get a big earthquake anytime in the near future. Scientific studies even say it should have come last year.

Even one safety manual given to us in office says - and I quote – “Why is the Tokai earthquake expected in the near future? Answer – Records show that a big earthquake in the Tokai zone occurred in a cycle of 100 to 150 years; the latest one was back in 1854. It means that, as of 2004, there has been no big earthquake for the past 150 years in this area. Naturally, the tetonic plate is presumed to put its huge energy on hold. Also, some other records show that ground subsidence has been observed in this area. Judging from these data, scientists have concluded that the Tokai earthquake should occur at any moment”.

Another para in the same safety booklet given by office says – and I again quote – “What is an “Earthquake warning”? Answer – It is feared that we might have a big earthquake, the so-called “Tokai” earthquake, with the focus located somewhere in the Suruga Bay, Shizuoka prefecture. When this earthquake is detected, the Prime Minister will make some announcement through radio and television to the effect that a big earthquake is expected to occur very soon (specifically, within a few days or in several hours) and then will go on to call for the nation to prepare for a disaster. This announcement is called an Earthquake warning, or ‘Keikai Sengen’ in Japanese”.

Reading the safety manual has not had a good effect on all of us and more so on one person … I think the worry is slightly more than necessary but then really, it is an individual thing as to how much one worries over something … I don’t blame him at all. Foreigners while coming to apna desh take so many innoculations … we live there and we don’t really take so many precautions. It is the same thing here … for the Japanese, life is normal. For us from outside, it is all a bit strange.

While talking with one immediate boss in India, I think the worried guy has given some indications that we r not safe here etc etc etc. Today evening, there is a call scheduled with some heads in India. Officially, the agenda is supposed to be “progress update” but then from what I can get from the worried guy, the agenda is really to find out how comfortable we r and whether there r any safety concerns etc. Worried guy’s fears have been translated to the people back in India as the fears of all of us. So today we will have this call … let’s see what happens. Personally, I am not concerned too much (though I cannot claim complete unconcern) coz life in Japan is like this only … they have to be careful at all times … and life goes on … till there is a problem, no use worrying about it. Everyone in Japan keeps a safety kit at home, which consists of a fire-resistant coat, helmet, rope, food and water for a couple of days, powerful torch etc. It is a part of their life. In fact, after our concerns in office about earthquakes, we have also been given this kit from the office side. So now I have a fire-resistant coat and torch etc. The kit doesn’t contain a helmet though … ;-) … maybe I will ask why not.

There were some discussions over what to say in the call etc. There were concerns about how it will sound if we say something, considering we have moved here only four days back, that too after personally seeing and approving the building; what the people in India would think; what our bosses in Japan would think etc etc etc. Suggestions were given as to what to say which, in my opinion only, amounted to unnecessary skirting around the issue. Things like – we can see for 10 days or so and if we find necessary, then change apartments AND we can stay here this month since rent has been paid … next month we can move to another place etc etc etc. Chuck’s point is – Earthquakes r not running on some scheduler or pattern. If we can wait 10 days then we can wait 20 … we can wait 30 and we might as well stay the 50 odd days left in this place. We don’t know if the quake that occurs tomorrow or day after is gonna be the big one … or the one that comes 2 years later. So either we say – “we wanna change” or “no concerns … we r fine” … judging by the concerns that r evidently there among us, the only option in my opinion is to say “we wanna change to a single storeyed apartment near office preferably in some decently populated area … right now we have one phone among the three of us … give us one each coz in the middle of a quake, I can’t run to another floor to use the phone in case of emergency” … sure it may sound unnecessary nitpicking to some people, but if we have to say something, lets say something that will end our worries rather than say something that will lead to more discussions and un-fruitful communications. As to what someone would think, I can point out the nearest canal where they can go jump.

I agree we approved the building before we moved in but that was before we got the safety manual for earthquakes given by office admin which says all the scary things … ;-) … and before getting two earthquakes in two days, albeit small ones. To the argument that rent has already been paid etc etc etc … well, I am not really thinking about money right now … just a way for my butt to escape in case of problems. Chuck doesn’t worry unless there is cause for worry … but since this issue has been raised, lets get some action than aimless chatter.

Anyway, I am clear as to what I will say if asked for an opinion. No skirting words for me. This is what I want …. Give it or don’t … that is upto u … my job is to tell u what I want. I think the other guys would prefer that someone somewhere gets our point without our having to actually say it.

Should be fun. I hope it is not really for getting progress update … would be a real let-down of expectations … ;-)




  • Hi Chuckster,

    Hope your "progress review" meeting went very well, and some progress is made!! Do let me know.

    thought I would say a quick word on your comment - "Earthquakes r not running on some scheduler or pattern. If we can wait 10 days then we can wait 20 … we can wait 30 and we might as well stay the 50 odd days left in this place."

    Your logic is not really logical. Even if nothing happens in 10 days, it can still happen on 11th day. So, move out the day you can.

    Signing off from a cool, rainy, and pleasant Hyderabad :-((


    By Blogger Nag, at 2:35 AM  

  • Hoi Nag
    Well that was what I was talking about. I want to move asap ... the point is "if we can wait some time, we can wait a lot of time" ... so lets NOT wait at all.


    By Blogger Chuck Inn, at 12:38 AM  

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