The Worldly’s Mano Emmanuel, currently on a gap year in Pokhara, Nepal, sent us this short report following the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
Before I set off to Nepal two months ago, I was told by family and friends to “experience new things”. The sense in which I understood this sentiment has been completely redefined over the past few days as Saturday’s earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks have indeed provided an all-new experience, albeit one which I’d never hoped to have.
On Saturday morning, as I sat in my bed in Pokhara, Nepal, the entire hotel began to shake. Realising it was an earthquake, I went out on to the balcony to see what other people were doing, but my vision was limited to just a few metres by the huge amount of dust. Unsure of what else to do, I merely returned to my room and sat out the next few minutes until the shuddering stopped. Having been fortunate enough to have never experienced an earthquake before, I had no idea quite how severe it had been, so upon seeing that there was no visible damage in the street, I simply returned to my room and continued reading. It may sound a nonchalant thing to have done, but really it was mere ignorance. It was only two hours later when I received panicked messages from friends and family that I realised the scale of the earthquake and the destruction it had caused.
The relaxed atmosphere certainly doesn’t reflect the chaos which we so narrowly avoided.
The days since then have produced sporadic aftershocks (some of quite frightening intensity) and yet the only physical damage I’ve seen is a few broken tiles and a leaking sink in my bathroom. With such little destruction to be seen here, it is almost impossible to believe the devastation which has been brought upon the nation’s capital and the area surrounding it. Indeed, despite our physical proximity in Pokhara, we look to international news for updates on the state of affairs. As such, in the city – a starting point for various treks and thus a tourist-dominated area – has been left with a rather confused atmosphere; it is hard to feel the sense of terror and desperation which must be present in Kathmandu when there is almost nothing to show for it. The reality is that Pokhara is an equal distance from the earthquake’s epicentre as Kathmandu is but has been far less severely affected. Kathmandu’s over-population and resultantly poor architecture is fortunately not mirrored here. Yet, for many of the tourists here, it seems that life has continued as normal and the relaxed atmosphere certainly doesn’t reflect the chaos which we so narrowly avoided.
I suppose most people who decided to read this article would have been expected a description of utter chaos and tragedy. However, other than having felt, rather than just heard about the earthquake, there is really little difference between my experience of this natural disaster and that of those back home.