I was in Shinjuku when the quake happened. Earlier that morning around 6am, I went to Tsukiji Fish Market and I wanted to watch Kabuki after that, because the theater was near. At around 11am-12 noon I reached back home to Shinjuku, at the hotel. While I slept, around 3 pm in the afternoon, the first signs of horror reared its horns. There was an immense terrible shaking that woke me up. I was wondering about it because I was still half asleep. Then the words "earthquake", "tsunami" sank into my head and I realized to my full horror that I was hit by an earthquake that was getting stronger and stronger every second. It was excruciatingly long, and my bed was rocking so bad and when I tried to stand. I fell over. I tried to sit, and I was rocked to and fro. I held on to the edge of the wall, but the piercing sound of the shaking and things falling amalgamated into a fusion of chaos. I felt powerless as the siren started to ring and emergency announcements were heard over the speaker in Japanese. I did not know what to do. Stay indoors or out? I was on the 16th floor and it felt extremely alone to be there when everyone was outside. Actually I did not know where everyone was. I just did not want to be by myself. I was so terrified that I could understand how little children wet their beds. I felt weak at my knees and the fear turned my blood cold. Never in my life have I ever felt so confined, and so powerless. Not the earthquakes in Taipei which sometimes gave you an occasional surprise. This... this was enormous. You did not know if the quake would continue to get larger and larger and things would shatter and debris would fall and hit you or crush you. All these scary notions flashed by my mind and I started to tremble. I told myself, to stay calm. But still the shaking continued. It got louder and louder and my prayers were drowned out by the thunderous banging. Then I shouted out loud, God! You're bigger than the quake! Save us!!! Save us, Jesus! Save us, save us! Save us Jesus. I kept crying out loud and praying and finally it came to a standstill. Still wide with horror, I held my breath in anticipation and then it came AGAIN. Repeatedly and finally the large ones left. By this time, tears were pouring from my face. I just thought to myself, if I went away, I would be with God. I would be okay. But the tears came because I felt the reality of being separated forever from my family, and my friends. I thought, if news reached my parents and my brother, they would be traumatized forever. I just felt, no , please no. I have not given the best to my family yet! There were dreams, good things, and many happy times I had yet to share it with them Prior to this, a fortnight ago, my brother came to visit me in Taipei. We went to the mountains where they had sheep, and farms. There were the cherry blossoms and strawberries that we went picking. It was extremely fun and I felt so happy to have had hung out with my brother because we were usually divided by distance. Writing this now brings tears to my eyes again and I still feel the ground beneath me shaking, even though I am back in my Taipei apartment. I tried to call someone. Anyone actually. But there was no way the phone lines would work. In my frantic anxiety I tried to get on the internet. It was very strange that the internet worked. I tried to email my brother, but email could not work. So I went on to facebook and I was both perplexed and hopeful when it did connect. There, I updated my status about not having any other source of communication. I also found a few friends who brought word to my brother and my family. And then I hesitated upon leaving the hotel because I was not sure if aftershocks would occur or if I could be safe without communication. (Facebook never felt more important than that moment) I guess the aftershock tremors that ensued kept me on my toes for a long while. Throughout the day/days in Japan, we felt the tremors when I was out having meals. The soups would shake, the bowls would tremble slightly. The expressions on all our faces united the different races, ethnicities and language disparities. We were all in the moment and we were going through the same ordeal. No one had to explain their traumas, no one needed to. The reports on the TV kept us on tenterhooks. What was happening in Tohoku and the sight of cars swept on shore, debris collapsing everywhere brought a universal sense of foreboding into the atmosphere. The convenience stores were swept of supplies as consumers dashed hurriedly and politely in a bid to keep afloat with last minute supplies. At Shinjuku, the vast amount of people increased by the minute. This was the world's busiest subway station. People were waiting in line for the phones at public booths, others sitting gravely on the floors and stairs waiting for the subway that was stalled to resume. They probably knew it was going to be hours and hours of ordeal. Others took refuge from possible aftershocks. Whatever the cause, it was the same countenance I saw that consumed each of their faces. No riots, no hysterics, no madness. Somewhere in the middle of the evening an American expat at the next table gushed about the sight of swaying buildings that had bewildered him. No where in his life, he stuttered had he seen something as terrifying as that. The Japanese were expert engineers at building structures, but with a monstrous quake and tsunami, the truth was, humanly it was not possible to handle the forces of nature. Nor were enough preparations enough to take on the loss of lives. And now with the power plant disaster, we can only watch with hope and only hope alone that the worst is over. That the Japanese government and foreign aid could instill some sort of solution, remedies for the victims of this disaster. Tsukiji Market at 6am before the quake. Best sushi in the world.After the quake, the beginning of a long wait.Several hours later, still many people at the subway. I usually walk past it on the way back. Warmer that way. This was the day people could not go home, they camped all night there.
The throngs of people, the crowds that did nothing to suggest hysterics or mania. This was how the Japanese handled their problems.
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