Before the Earthquakes
We flew from Istanbul to Kathmandu. Our plan: 3 months of Nepal and Northern India. When we arrived we headed directly to Thamel, one of the oldest districts of the capitol. It’s a quite touristy area with lots of accommodations, restaurants and shops. The first days we just wanted to rest and figure out our next step. On the internet we found an ashram just outside of Kathmandu. Here more than 100 challenged and orphaned children live. It’s a spiritual community, lead by Swami Ramchandra, inspired by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. They live from their own organic farming and are a non profit organization.
Intrigued, we spontaneously decided to head there. Luckily we came at a great time, as they celebrated their 22nd anniversary. The children and youngsters from the ashram had prepared a lovely program full of dances, songs and other performances. When you first imagine an orphanage, you get this sad feeling of children with no homes or families. But here the children feel like home, go to school and have over 100 family members. They are without a doubt a happy, healthy and helping family.
Our second day at the ashram we got up early to attend to yoga. This was followed by breakfast and Lennart went outside to help unloading trucks.
I stayed in our room, writing. We had three beds in our room, but I chose to lay on the one near to the window. At some point I stopped writing and just stared out of the window for a long time. The view was magnificent, you could see almost all of Kathmandu and its surrounding hills.
But after a while my peace was abruptly and dramatically interrupted.
Within a few seconds my calmness turned to the complete opposite feeling: Anxiety and panic. The first second I thought: What is that noise? A truck? Following second everything shook rapidly. The house swung from side to side. I was on the third floor – two unfinished built floors above me. I immediately remembered, that I should be under a table. Having no table I chose a bed. I lay here listening to the building rumble and the sound of collapse from the above floors. I was very sure, that these were going to be my last moments alive. But I didn’t dare to move. Full of anxiety I was paralyzed and watched as the whole room was shaking. Then there was a anxious knock on the door. Without hesitation I got up and unlocked it. Lennart had come inside to get out, and we ran outside to safety.
Everyone was in chok, but luckily no one seemed to be hurt. I looked in the direction of Kathmandu. It was no longer visible. The view I had enjoyed only three minutes before, was completely dusty.
Not much later another earthquake shook the ground below us, and we witnessed how the houses were wobbling, as if they were constructed with rubber.
The rest of the day we spent outside, just sitting and waiting. We experienced many tremors and each time the anxiety returned.
We finally got some news: The earthquake measured 7.8 and was one of the biggest earthquakes in Nepal. 700, 800, 900. The death rates continued to rise. Historical buildings and temples that we had planned to visit had collapsed. ‘We only have one richness in our poor country, and that is our temples” a youngster of the ashram told us.
The following days
Because of solar panels, the ashram still had a very limited access to electricity. But the rest of the city had none. There was no tap water, but we were fortunate to have food and drinking water. We packed our bags and brought it to the safest building of the ashram, where we stayed in the bedroom of Swami Ramchandra. The other buildings suffered from big damages so everyone stayed in this building or in a tent outside.
There were made several runs to a temple nearby that had flowing water.
Today we experienced another big earthquake. Afterwards we could see a few places where dust and smoke started to rise. Probably more houses had collapsed. The death rate is now estimated to be over 2000. We continue to feel terrified each time another tremor comes.
The city is silent and dark.