On Saturday, I was in the middle of a class on investment planning which I take twice a week and one of the office staff came to the classroom and told me “Ma’am called and has asked you to call her urgently”. Normally, I keep my phone off or muted and do not take any calls. So, it was with some irritation that I called up the wife and she said “There has been a bad earthquake in Nepal”. For a few seconds, I did not understand and then it clicked – my daughter along with three of her friends had gone there two days earlier to a classmate’s house!
I cancelled the class and then put on the TV to see horrific scenes of devastation. Then began the nightmare of trying to contact her and trying to find people who would have contacts in Kathmandu and those who could help.
Tens of friends called in and sent me details of relatives and friends in Kathmandu. The only solace we had was that she was staying at one of her classmate’s place, so I was sure her parents would take care of my daughter as their own. But the lack of contact was killing us. In the initial stages the networks were down. Then the networks started and she used someone’s phone and came up on Whatsapp (never will I curse it again as a stupid waste of time) – the first sentence – “Mamma, it’s me, Namu” will forever be etched in my mind.
Watching TV, I realized that we were well on our way to become if not a ‘Developed’ country, then at least a force to reckon with. Within a few hours of the disaster, we saw the NDRF and the armed forces already on the ground at Kathmandu. Watching them, one realized that these guys appear to be well trained and knew their stuff. I think, even before the Nepalis realized the magnitude of the disaster, the relief operations by the Indian forces were well underway.
Another thing I noticed this time around was the lack of any strutting politicians on TV. The updates were given by the respective secretaries and the damage assessment was done by the person on the ground there – those who are actually involved in the relief operations. Not some politician who takes an aerial survey with a team of the press corps to record the event!
I remember a few years back when the Sachivalaya in Mumbai caught fire, the newspapers on the next day reported extensively how the then Chief Minister came on site and took over the firefighting operations! What on earth does he know about firefighting? He should have been in his office with clear instructions to the fire chief – I’m here to support you with whatever you require to put out the blaze.
Back to Kathmandu – those huge lumbering giant planes flew in supplies and brought back stranded Indians – one of them was my daughter. Will be forever grateful to the armed forces for their admirable job they do when it counts the most. Keep up the good work. You make us proud to be Indians!