Have you been to Nepal yet?

[First published after the great Nepal earthquake on Indian Real Estate for Dummies on 1st May, 2015]

I have not been to Nepal yet. The good news however, is that I am headed to Nepal for my big holiday early in 2016.

And I am saving up for it already.

Going a little off topic here; Fifteen years ago, I was returning home in a shared cab from an out-of-office training. It was around half past ten when the Ambassador taxi I was commuting in mated with an SUV at 80 km/hr. In the passenger seat without a seat belt, that could only translate into death for a human. Miraculously, I survived. My left eye popped out on impact and among other injuries, I also grand totaled my right arm. It was dangling like a rope elbow onward.

On any scale, that could be comfortably placed in the disaster slot. So here is how I analyze a disaster;

The shock phase – Can last a few minutes to a couple of days

This shock phase starts the moment the calamity forces stop. The event itself could last a few seconds, like in my case, or a few minutes like a major earthquake. If you’re dead in that time, everything ends. If you survive, the journey to betterment begins even as you are completely numb to pain. Pain, I tell you sets in much later.

What can/ must you do in this state? Call/ Wait for help.

Emergency/ Aid/ Relief – Can last a few days to many months

This phase just needs you to stay strong and let the experts assess, diagnose and act. I saw my folks and relatives as I was being wheeled out of the emergency room almost 3 hours after my road accident. Did I really need them then? I mean would I have died had they not turned up after my distress call? No.

Love, prayers and good wishes cannot keep you alive without expertise. In fact, post disaster, expertise is the only answer to prayers. So instead of cluttering up the darn hospital lobby for nothing, keep in touch over the phone and let the disaster management team of experts deal with it.

As I got operated upon two days later, unknown to me, all my friends and relatives who happened to be in town, came by and met my folks and sister at the hospital. But all I really needed then was expert help.

When you are overcoming a big disaster, survival instinct overrides every other desire and most of the world around you ceases to exist temporarily. You miss no one and nothing apart from the days when you could just walk on your own.

What can/ must you do in this state? Let the experts do their work and bring you relief. Help them help you.

Rebuilding – Can take a lifetime

I got home from the hospital a few weeks later, my hand in a cast and my mind in the blender. The experts had all moved on to another disaster, the relatives and friends had their own lives to get back to. The how-are-you-doing phone calls had stopped coming. I was hurt, angry, messed up and above all, lonely.

I must add now that so far, my best buddy Nitin had not turned up to check on me. Not even as I went through the whole ordeal at the hospital. When you are recovering from a disaster and you miss someone who has not shown up yet, you would not make a call and ask I am sure. Neither did I. I decided to wait.

But as I was battling the second day of my loneliness at home, Nitin turned up. We didn’t speak much that day but I was never lonely again. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like a written off wreck anymore. Over the next few months, he came by almost everyday, bringing other friends with him once in a while. Sometimes, he would sneak in a beer too. I took my first walk down the road with him and even learnt to drive a car, with him in the passenger seat all the time. God bless you, dost.

Money, nutrients, aid, doctors and experts can put the life back in your body. Resources can keep your heart beating after the biggest of disasters or the narrowest of escapes. Feeling alive is another story altogether. Healing the spirit requires friends, belief and care.

In a year’s time from now, all the experts would have left Nepal. The race to aid would be a thing of the past and the dust around the Himalayas would have settled, just like the global media attention.

In a year’s time from now, Nepal is going to be at its loneliest and most vulnerable point. That is when this land of temples is going to need friends. Travelers who would walk its streets again. Strangers who would bring back the belief and tourism dollars.

Fellow humans who would help these brave Himalayan people, feel alive again.

I have not been to Nepal yet. The good news however, is that I am headed to Nepal for my big holiday early in 2016.

And I am saving up for it already.



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