Thursday, February 28, 2008

That Queer Shake

12:10 - I am sleeplessly lazing, stretched out across the width of the bed, my back against the wall, cushioned by a rumpled duvet and a pillow, and my feet on a wheeled chair. I'm aimlessly browsing stuff, here and there, listening to Gaalipata songs on Kannada Audio, and randomly scrapping friends on Orkut.

12:20 - Too many tabs opened on a window, I guess, and Explorer has had enough. Without warning, it comes up with an error saying 'Explorer has encountered a serious problem and will close'. And poof, it closes all the sites at once. Though the loss is nothing so important or interesting to be furious at, I find myself cursing the laptop. There is a saying in Kannada which roughly translates to "going and sitting on an ant-hill, when there's nothing better to do". If only it had occurred to me, when I was showing off at Frankfurt airport having connected to public wi-fi without an anti-virus, my laptop would probably not have been in this state. To cut another story short, I had to take it to a HP authorised dealer to have it back in working condition without loss of any data.

12.25 - I shut my laptop down and place it on the chair (the one with the wheels). I visit the bathroom, remove my lenses and come back with my glasses on. With a cursory glance, I take in the general quadrangle of the room. Wash Clothes. Iron Trousers. Make space on the table for the laptop. Unpack completely. (I came back ONLY three weeks ago you see :P). Towel for tomorrow? Check. Ironed shirt? Check. Set alarm on the phone? Check. Removed from silent mode? Check.

12.35 - I switch off the light and jump into the bed. My eyes adjust to a pale orange light streaming in from the sodium vapour lamp outside. I take off my specs and place them above the laptop on the chair (the one with wheels). I look through the skylight into the darkness. It's an odd test I take sometimes - looking into the darkness with my heavily myopic eyes to see how much dark-distance I perceive. Sometimes it gets really interesting. Especially when you look at a luminous object, and then at something else, you see a superimposition of the luminous object over the real object in your line of vision. It is almost as if you can touch the vision with your hand, only it disappears when you outstretch your hand. It may lack an explanation, or may be it is too trivial to deserve one, but sometimes I do it for kicks. In Mysore, I could climb up the stairs and go to my room in pitch-dark "power cut" darkness, and return with Chelpark Black ink for my pen. Blindfolded. You tell me how.

12.40 - I close my eyes and try to sleep. I'm thinking about a dream which I had last week, and remembered to write about. What the dream was, I don't know now. But what I know is that I had remembered the dream then and wanted to get up and make notes lest I forgot about it. Why I didn't get up, nobody knows.

12.55 - I am shaking. It is not the usual shudder which I involuntarily have when there is a sudden cramp or a bad dream. Few seconds later, I realise it's not only me. The dim reflection of the white of the cupboard behind my bed is shaking too. The chair (the one with the wheels) is moving farther and farther away. A few seconds later, everything is still.
Puzzled, I go downstairs to talk to my flat mates who are usually awake till late. Unusually today, they are asleep, and do not respond when called. I walk back to my room and look around. I remember I shook unnaturally. I stretch my legs to feel any tell-tale pain which may have given a cramp. None. I look around, but there are no clues.

Only the chair (the one with wheels), having rolled to the center of the room, stands witness to my first second experience of an earthquake.

Yesterday just before 0100 GMT, an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter Scale, hit the UK. With its epicentre in Lincolnshire, it was the biggest earthquake in the UK in 25 years.

1. I now know how people must have felt in Latur. What I experienced for 10 seconds was muffled by 100 miles of solid rock.
2. That Queer Shake is an anagram of The Earth Quakes.