jueves, 17 de marzo de 2011

Real heroes

Friday 11 March, it should have been around 14:30 Tokyo time. I was at the lab on the 5th floor with around 4 other colleagues in the same room, after having lunch at the university restaurant. I was starting to log in to my laptop when I felt a sudden jitter of the table. Having experienced the shake the previous week (see my earlier post) I knew what it was and stood up. As always the others consoled me saying its usual and will not last long. Unfortunately it did not stop and in fact got much harder. Soon we saw shelves with books literally falling down and tables and chairs being thrown up and down. That was the moment I felt the fear that just instinctively made me run out (this is not the advised reaction to an earthquake; it is much more safe to cover and hold under a table or other sturdy furniture). Nevertheless, I saw also others following me and we ran down the stairs while the whole building was shaking as if in a bad turbulence on a flight. The way down the stairs from the 5th floor seemed eternal. I remember having ran out in the footwear used inside the lab while all others took the time to change the shoes (for hygienic reasons, the Japanese change shoes for indoors, outdoors, toilets etc). Finally having reached the ground floor we just needed to open the door to run to the patio. I thought I was dreaming  when I saw my colleagues opening the door and waiting for me to pass saying: "after you Zenon-san". Honour, politeness and fairness until the last moment, thats the Japan I witnessed. Out on the ground we saw parked cars simply swinging back and forth and the tall buildings around us on four sides moving like ships in wild winds. The football ground we were on seemed to be like on a ship swaying in the sea. Despite all this, there was no panic, everyone knew what to do and most were trying to tell me that this will go away and trying to cheer up eachother with jokes. Might sound surreal to some, but these are the real heroes who have been fighting for their lives and homes on an island that has been hit by natural calamities all throughout their history....but always with a friendly smile on the face and with utmost respect for eachother.  I miss you Japan. Zenon

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