a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Sunday, October 09, 2005
  The next day
I slept at 5 am last night, very drained and exhausted. I woke up after a good 8 hours sleep at noon, just a while ago, uninterrupted by any more quakes. I took a long, relaxing bath and thought that the quake was finally truly over. I went out to get some groceries and sat down to my computer when I felt another quake. I rushed outside thinking 'here we go again!'

I've woken up to news that the death toll from the quake is past 18,000. Its really depressing information. It appears that Islamabad, while fully within sphere of the quake's full force, didn't suffer all that much. We've got that collapsed tower which CNN and all the other networks are covering so much, but that tower is only responsible for a few hundred deaths. I'm not saying that's little or anything, but it pales in comparison to the death toll in other parts of the country.

I think the quake is over for the most part. We may have a few more jolts, but they shouldn't be too severe. Yesterday I was worried about strong aftershocks. I don't think we'll have any strong ones from now on.

My brother went to Abbottabad and took all the stuff in his shop out. The plaza that houses his shop is pretty badly cracked he's waiting to see what will happen with it in the next few days.

I'm feeling guilty. I feel I should be outside doing something productive rather than just sitting my ass down and writing and watching the news. I plan to donate what I can to the President's Earthquake Relief Fund when the banks open up tomorrow.
  More quake quivers
2:50 am. Just had another aftershock. I think there was one about an hour ago too, but wasn't sure. Am damn sure about this one though. I felt the insidiously silent movement underneath me, looked at my glass and sure enough the fluid level was moving.

With these quakes, what happens is that initially I'm not very sure that its happening. Maybe thats because a part of me doesn't want to believe that its happening and my mind goes into denial for a brief time. Then there is usually a single jolt that convinces me that its happening. When this jolt comes, all doubt goes out the window and I sudden unfreeze and jump up. Its really nerve wracking. I didn't run out, because it's fricken 3 in the morning, I bolted up and crouched down next to my glass, watching the fluid levels. It keep moving for a while, and I was earnestly trying to will it to stop moving. I really didn't want to be forced to leave. This was a pretty strong aftershock, it didn't last very long though. About 30 seconds or so. Still, the heart rate went up and I felt that cold chill creep over me.

Islamabad has turned into a dangerous enemy. Its like a snake that's set its sights on you. You never know when its going to strike, but its got you by the balls and there's no getting away from it. I feel a bit resentful really. It feels a little like being betrayed. Its as if this city, which is my home has turned against me.
  Updates on the quake
I was writing an update when the light went out. They stayed out for about 30 minutes. It's past midnight right now and I was thinking that if we got an aftershock just then, we'd have a difficult time getting to the door in the dark.

We're expecting aftershocks. The news is telling us to be alert because we could have more aftershocks over the next two days. My building that houses my brother's computers shop in Abbottabad suffered a big crack and many other buildings in that city are totally flattened. He's going over tomorrow first thing in the morning to empty his shop of everything he can just in case.

The expectation of more aftershocks is nerve racking. My tired mind is starting to imagine tremors and I freeze up for a few seconds to 'feel' for it. Of course, when there really isn't a tremor to be feltit takes a while for me to relax again. I just whent downstairs and filled up a glass halfway with water and placed it on the desk next to the computer. If there is the slightest tremor, I can see the fluid level in glass move.

No one in the house is really sleeping well. My mother just came up for a look-see, asking for any news updates. Outside our house are rows of apartment blocks across the road to us, and the people living there are all sleeping outside. They don't want to be stuck on the higher-up floors when a quake hits. They're doing this even though it just rained for two hours and the ground must be soaking wet.

I'm feeling very irritable. I'm feeling tired, but don't want to go to sleep. The feeling of the ground shaking underneath you is terrible.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
  I'm back - to an earthquake!
My exams are over. All those posts I wrote about the preparation for the exams, all that consumed me during that time - all that is over. Inshallah, the result will be out in a month or two, and I should pass with good marks.

So much has happened in these past two months. I've covered so much new ground in self-discovery. I wish I had an internet connection there in Peshawar, I would have been able to write from time to time and put some of the more important (and some of my finer) moments down here.

There's a lot I want to talk about in this space, and I'll get to it in the next few days. I came back from Peshawar only yesterday. I packed up everything and hauled ass back here for the last time. I'm done with Peshawar, thank God. I hated that place.

I had grand plans of relaxing for a little while and then going on to the next Big Project of mine (which I'll talk about soon), but before I could get my head straight about anything, we had this big earthquake here in Islamabad (and the surrounding regions).

I went to sleep last night very tired. It had been a long day, what with packing all my stuff, hauling it over here. I wanted to go to sleep late so I'd wake up late and make the next day's fast a little easier. I dropped like a stone into bed at around 1 am and hibernated until I was woken up by the quake. I realised what was happening very fast and leaped out of bed and shook my brother awake. I have very bad eye sight and the very first thing I do when I wake up is put my glasses on. Despite the room shaking in a most obvious manner, I still looked quickly for the glasses, but I forgot where I had put them. I gave up on them after a few seconds and ran out of the room really quickly, my heart pounding. Who needs coffee, I thought - there's nothing like an earthquake to get those morning juices flowing.

We went outside, my family and I. In Islamabad earthquakes occur quite regularly. They always scare us, and get the heart going, but they don't last long and arn't that strong. The feeling of the ground moving underneath us in a quick jerking motion is not unfamiliar to us. That feeling is usually strongest when your sitting down, more so if your lying down or if your in a higher floor of the building. This time however, I could feel the ground moving underneath me as I was standing outside the house. My legs starting shaking a little bit from the fear of something awful happening. Soon after the windows starting rattling, which didn't help our nerves. We realised this earthquake was very strong. It lasted for quite a while, much longer than others we've experienced before.

We finally went back in after a while. Going back to sleep was out of the question now. I just went to the computer and logged on, as I had nothing better to do.

Pretty soon the local news channels aired the story. The earthquake was a 7.4 on the Richter scale. A whopper. News came in that an prominent apartment complex in the capital, called the Margella towers had collapsed. That's a pretty big, prominent building. I've passed it many times. My father passes it every day on his way to work. We even considered buying an apartment there when it was first built a few years ago. I remember visiting the place when it was still being constructed because my parents wanted to know how big the individual apartments would be.

The pictures came in on the news. Reports of losses of life and property in other parts of the country started coming in as well. The President, Prime Minister and Interior Minister visited the site of the collapsed Margella Towers. It was surreal.

Then came the aftershocks. In all, since morning, there have been about 10 of them. I stopped going out after the 6th or 7th one. The last one was 4 hours ago, and we're all still kind of nervous because news reports claim the aftershocks may last for another 2-3 days.

Home sweet home.

More soon.
Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

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