My fifth week in Kathmandu – Disaster Strikes

pray-for-nepal2WEEK 5

Juho’s adventures

Good news and bad news. A week in which the country stopped and everything went upside down.

It is hard to capture my experiences for this week in words but I am going to give it a try anyway. The week past with lots of experiences and emotions, happy and sad. Probably the most spectacular week I have ever experienced but also my worst.

First things first so lets start with the good things

During the week I have met a lot of new nice and friendly people. I felt more at home. Every one in the office was in a good and cheerful mood and I spent a really comfortable week with my roommates.

We were invited to the grand opening of Beta House. It is a very cool and great place. Good food, good mood and very good music. Since it is right underneath the Reaggae Bar we hopped from one into another, enjoyed the complimentary food and emptied a bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey. As usual it became late, very late and I stumbled to a taxi to get me home around 7 in the morning. It was a great night.

One of my co-workers and now friend invited my room mate and me to have dinner at his house. Sudeep is the Brand Manager, and he lives close to our apartment with his parents. Again I was very impressed and delighted that I got to an invitation. It was a great evening with friends, the ones I met before in the previous weeks. Sudeep’s mum had cooked a very good meal with fried fish, Veggie Pakora and momo’s. They were the best so far and so much that we ‘rolled’ home stuffed and burping.

We had planned to go rafting the day after and agreed to meet at the office at 7.45. My first rafting experience and what a day it would turn out to be.  As said we met at the office on our day off, time to do something fun and cool. There is a few rivers where rafting is possible but since it was my first time,  we were heading to the Trushuli river. It’s a three-hour drive outside the Kathmandu Valley. Sanjeev had arranged transport there. I was really excited about the rafting trip. Armed with some Go Pro’s we were all ready!
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What was supposed to be a great day turned out te be a very black one.

Before we started rafting, standing on the bank of the river we felt the earth trembling, a landslide came down on the other side of the river and most people started running away from it. No phones at hand, no means of communication and little did we know if it was just a landslide or, as it turned out to be the heaviest earthquake in Nepal in the past 80 years. Without any knowledge all 80 people present went rafting like nothing happened. What a very impactful surprise when we returned a few hours later to the van.

We all missed calls, the Nepali from friends and family, we from Europe. Text messages asking how we were, still alive??

Being without phones for at least 4 hours you cannot imagine how worried my family was thinking I was in Kathmandu at the time of the quake. We all started making phone calls immediately tho not easy cause cell reach was not always available. The impact of the disaster quickly became clear and we all realized that we were very lucky not to be in Kathmandu.

After a quick change into something dry we drove as fast as we could back to Kathmandu not really knowing what to expect. Driving towards the city we already saw some of the damage, rocks as big as cars had fallen onto the road, people were outside afraid to go back into their houses.

The sight of the city was sad. Although most of the buildings were still standing some of them were less fortunate. Complete houses, walls, roofs and monuments were collapsed including most of the World Heritage sites. Streets were filled with people, for cars hard to drive through and the ambulances and pick ups converted into casualty transports were not a pretty sight. Broken walls everywhere, bricks lying around and the air filled with dust and debris.

A very black day for Nepal of which the consequences will not be overseen for at least a few months.

When we reached our other flat mate we realized how lucky we had been. She was at home at the time of the earthquake on the 10th floor of our apartment building. She told us the building was shaking so heavily she had trouble standing up straight and grabbing the door handle. She had to run 10 floors down while walls came down in the stairway….. she told us she thought this was the day she would die…..

Our apartment turned into a no go zone instantly because no one knew if it was safe enough to be in. Since we left without nothing but swim shorts we needed to go up to grab a few things to get through at least the next two nights.  10 floors up quickly trying not to be inside for too long was quite stressful.

It was my first time I had the feeling that I was not able to go back to home and my life was inside a small backpack. Lucky to be safe but very lost as well. We had to find a place to sleep, try to get food and clean water.

Sanjeev was kind enough to invite us to his house, just 20 minutes outside of Kathmandu

It was a short and restless night because of all the aftershocks and tremors.
Sunday we went back to the office, a strong building build to withstand earthquakes. As much damage we had seen on other buildings surprisingly enough not even the flower pots on the rooftop terrace had moved in the office.

Sunday while in the office we had another big quake, 6.5 richter scale and we had to run down from the third floor to the ground floor. The earth was shaking and seemed to become fluid. It does something very weird with your brain and causes nausea. I have never been afraid that much. The city was shocked again, electricity and phone networks were not working and left everyone terrified.

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Sanjeev’s place funny enough had electricity and wifi and that is when I received al lot of messages from friends and family, of course all concerned for my well being.
Shops, Restaurants all closed. Not a working ATM in Kathmandu. The city had turned into the largest camp side I had ever seen.

The following days were all the same. Nothing open, hard to get food, people afraid to stay indoors, camping outside and on top of that it started raining too.

So much for my internship and the plans for the future. I was really confused and uncertain and all the great plans I had had to be reconsidered. The good thing was that all the people from the office and the ones I had met in Kathmandu were all safe and healthy. Houses sometimes gone or cracked but no personal harm.

Nepal is in desperate need of help in any form you can think of. Money is probably easiest cause it travels fast where goods take a few days or maybe weeks to arrive.
Nepal is filled with sadness and tears. Clouds of tears and fear have covered the sky.

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Small country Nepal has suffered a big tragedy, but Nepalese are strong and they will stand together and rebuilt this beautiful country and make it a place with smiles and happiness again.

By the time you all read this I have left Nepal. My school made the decision to get me back to safe Helsinki.

Let’s pray for Nepal.

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