It was just another tuesday evening. A bit more strenuous perhaps. Yet another conf call. Tired voices. Stressed out faces. The projector looks the brightest in the room, almost too inhuman. I am just rocking in my chair and all of a sudden I am rocking more. And suddenly less. I shiver. Tense faces show unusual signs of alertness. "Hold on guys, we may be having an earthquake", tells my manager. A less tiring day, he would have screamed it. The realization had not hit me. I could not visualize the wreckage, the pile of garbage and unrecognizable dead bodies yet. Its just a little jerky boat ride. And then a slightly bigger tremor, that gives me what cricket commentators call butterflies in the tummy. "Will call later" declares my manager as he disconnects the phone.
We all head towards the door. A colleague is just standing there coolly checking the message on his phone. Another colleague gets a text message within a few seconds from his brother - "You felt it?" Yeah, technology! We have a laugh. The cool colleagues asks us why we are going down. If you go down, the lamp posts and other things may fall on you, this is the safest place, he tells and gets back to his phone. Yeah, office on the sixth floor and safest!! My manager runs back to the conference room and asks us to stand near the door holding the door frame. Oh yes, table is a good option too, it looks quite strong, tells another. I have a great rush of adrenaline, I am completely excited. I cannot control my big grin. Its way too exciting to be scared. Am I the same person who gets scared when a dog barks in the next street?
Everything is still within a couple of minutes. Calls from the families asking if they are okay. My manager who might have seen at least half a dozen earthquakes is visibly shaken. He knows a lot on them too. He keeps giving trivia one after the other. Usually, if there is a small tremor and a big tremor after that, the impact is huge. Sometimes, even though there are no visible damages, there may be leaks in gas stations that can cause devastations. There is some geological week spot that runs through California, which makes it so vulnerable. US is never safe from earthquakes, tremors, typhoons. This was BIG, must be 5 or 6.
The other colleague, who had his first earthquake experience like me, was a bit startled. But, that did not stop him from opening his browser. Tab after tab, we were reading google news which did not have this news. USGS, within the next few minutes, had already updated this info on their web site. Wow, tells the colleague. Must have been 5 or 6 on the Ritchers scale, this was BIG, tells the manager again. The colleague refreshes the page. The scale shows 5.6! Bingo! He replies to all the text messages and answers the calls from family. Will there be updates on twitter? Blog search reveals that many bloggers have already blogged about it. In a matter of minutes. Only blog addiction can make a man lose his self preservation instincts. The colleague refreshes the page again and there is a question mark for the scale value. Must be they have multiple servers and its not cached on one of them, opines my techie colleague. We techies are like that wonly saar. One more refresh, it again shows 5.6 and verified by a seismologist! My manager recollects the earlier earthquakes starting from 1989. Few more people join in the room and start telling their experiences.
"Here we are along with a very visibly excited Vasuki" tells my manager as we begin the conf call again. The funny thing is the people who knew a lot and experienced were more worried and I was having a real real great time. May be thats why they say that ignorance is bliss. Its quite strange too that small application errors and slow servers can annoy us to no end and big things like earthquakes can give us great joy. Yeah weird, I know. I am too excited to sleep now. May be I will relive those memories a few more times.