Thursday, 20 August 2009

Earthquakes move you

It's almost been a month since my last post and that makes me think that a) this business of being a full time mum and expat parasite is not all that relaxed and time-freeing as I thought and b) I have been trying to get my voice back -and listen to it- in the midst of a lot of noise.
Plus, I am a lazy ass.
Anyway, sometimes in Japan you don't even have to move your ass as per your own will. An earthquake will do it for you, ha! The occurrence of earthquakes in Japan was not high on the wish list of "those Japan things I know". Almost two months (and three earthquakes later) I've come to see that they are an almost daily feature and part of everyday life here.
A few days ago I felt my third earthquake in the space of two weeks. This one had its epicentre in Chiba, which is sort of a suburb of Tokyo (as in quite close to Tokyo) It was a 4 in the Richter scale, and nothing really 'moved', but the feeling is always the same: it is as if you are living over a very busy subway station. Bibu was napping in his room and didn't feel a thing.

The strongest so far (touching wood as I type this) was the first one, during which I think I was this close to having a panic attack. On that occasion, Mr M, Bibu and I all went under the table, as it is recommended over here and waited for the shock to pass, which could have been between 20 to 30 seconds, but which lasted an eternity for us.
At that moment we realised how ill prepared we were for the event of, you know, ehem, a real big earthquake and the possibility of having to evacuate the building or something. We have in the apartment a box with water and food rations and a strange device to use in the event of having to get out of the apartment via a window (as if) It's like a pole with a steel rope and a thing to attach it to oneself. Mind you, if this pole thing is ever necessary I don't think I would be in the sort of mental state to correctly use this thing, but never mind (touching more wood here)

The strangest thing though, is that nobody here paid much importance to that first earthquake. I mean, the local newspapers barely mentioned it and Mr M told me nobody spoke much about it in the office. For me, I think I aged 20 years in 20 seconds. Since then, every now and then I feel certain tremors and I don't know if I am particularly sensitive or if I am imagining things. Earthquakes are indeed a strange thing.

Anyway, our blatant "earthquake unpreparedness" made me start on my new quest, which is getting some kit ready for an eventual evacuation. Among the recommended stuff are (besides water and food) a flashlight, can opener, plastic sheet, wet wipes, wireless radio, first aid kit and essential documentation. In short, everything you would need to live without a house for a couple of days. I have now placed a backpack next to the apartment door and ready to go and every now and then add a new survival element to the list. Let's hope we never have to use it.

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