Just ten days ago, I was in Kathmandu in Nepal. My wife and I had spent a wonderful time during April 14-17 , visiting places of tourist interest.
Briefly, for almost four hours on April 14, I was hospitalised for a minor case of food-poisoning, in a good private hospital.
But now, after Saturday’s massive earthquake, that same hospital building – I have learnt -has almost entirely collapsed.
My hosts said this to me, when I called them yesterday to inquire about their well-being after hearing news of the devastation wreaked by the earthquake. The buildings in and around their residences are completely reduced to a rubble, they said.
But my hosts in Kathmandu are safe. And so are the two tourist guides whom I had also called to inquire about their safety.
But, sadly, they all say that their many friends and families have perished in this horrible tragedy. The death toll, as we can see, is continuing to rise.
While we were receiving news at our news-desk, yesterday, that the number has gone above 2200, I learnt that yet another earthquake has occurred. In the same place.
If Saturday’s earthquake registered 7.8 on the Richter Scale, this new Sunday aftershock registered a magnitude of 6.7, plunging the Kathmandu valley into sorrow.
Actually, I was awe-struck, seeing the beauty of monuments and temples in Bhaktapur, which is one of the worst affected areas.
Bhaktapur is not an ordinary town, but, in fact, one rich with historical heritage dating back to hundreds of years.
Sadly, now, most of those historical edifices of temples and palaces have crumbled to dust; taking with them, many lives.
I had also been enraptured by the beauty of the sunrise and sunset from Nagarkot, a beautiful hill station, where we had stayed at Club Himalaya, on top of a hill.
Nagarkot , I am told by my hosts and guides, was not much affected by this shocking earthquake.
My beautiful memories, of barely 10 days ago, make it hard for me to imagine that in the very place where I had stood, and I had walked, now, suddenly, and unexpectedly, thousands have lost their lives and their homes.
It is hard to imagine that those huge buildings, trees and roads were unable to withstand this horrible, massive, ten-minute earthquake.
It is ironic that the same place, at the foot of Himalayas, to which people flock year after year, for peace and tranquillity, has abruptly lost its peace and tranquillity.
This place now needs relief and rescue in the immediate term, but restructuring and rebuilding in the long term.
So, while thanking God for bringing us back safe, I can only pray that peace, comfort and consolation would reign once again in the valley. Especially families which have lost their loved ones, and their property.
I also think, the international community should be swifter in responding, and should come together quickly to rally around the situation.
The poor country which used to get most of its revenues from tourism will suffer, I know, from an inevitable reduction in tourism.
Now, when I remember the hours I spent in the hospital, and think of that building which collapsed, I can only say that we cannot take things for granted.
What is sad is that despite tremendous scientific achievements in seismology and seismography, we still do not have a method to predict the occurrence of earthquakes.
No matter how great the development of humans has been, we must accept that life and death are still governed by the acts of God.