You forget what you are supposed to do. No matter what the earthquake safety drill taught you. Basic instincts come first. Look for the kids, and make sure they are safe and run outside.

Yes, it was a big one.  At least for me. 5.6 on the Ritcher scale is considered moderately large even in the earthquake prone bay area. In the last 10 years I have lived here, the earth has shaken several times.  But never this big.

Last night it was our dinner time. Around 8 pm. My son was as usual, dodging to finish his food, when the rattling sound started. I was about to tell him to stop rattling his chair and go on with his mosaranna. The hardwood floors are new, and I don’t want them to be spoiled so early on :)  It was a few seconds before I realised the sound was not his making, and it coincided with my wife shouting “Earthquake, earthquake!!”.  I looked up at the walls, and the whole house was violently shaking. The chandelier was swinging like a pendulam.

My wife ran to the garage, to see what my daughter who was playing there was safe.  I headed to the front door, calling every one to come outside. It was almost a minute of shaking before everything was back to normal. The lights kept swinging for a while though.

We did not have any broken frames or window shutters. We turned on the TV. No breaking news on any news channels yet. My wife ran to the car to turn on 1590 KLIV. They had already started a call-in program.  The earthquake was centered about 5 miles north- north-east of Alum Rock. That puts it about 5-6 miles east of  my house. No wonder it felt so strong.

Luckily no harm reported anywhere. Except may be some broken bottles and spilled liquids in supermarket isles. Life is back to normal.

I am reminded of a similar quake I experienced when I lived in Pune. It was the night of Ananta chaturdashi. The last day of Ganeshotsava in Maharashtra. A large quake hit central Maharashtra. The epicenter lay at least 250 miles away near Latur, near Karnataka border. It was so strong to wake us all from our deep sleep, and send us running out of our homes. When I went out that night, I saw almost the every one had stepped out of their homes. Some one had a window glass broken.

Next morning, we found out how deadly it was. Thousands lost their lives, and several thousands lost their homes.

I am so glad the last night’s quake was not damaging. And, it is good to have quakes of this size near a fault line, it seems. It releases the tension building under the earth, the geologists say. So, the fear of a big one striking soon is reduced by some extent.

What can I do now, except reciting this vacana of akkamahAdEvi (11th century AD)?

ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಮೇಲೊಂದು ಮನೆಯ ಮಾಡಿ ಮೃಗಗಳಿಗಂಜಿದೊಡೆಂತಯ್ಯ?
ಸಮುದ್ರದ ತಡಿಯೊಳು ಮನೆಯ ಮಾಡಿ ನೊರೆತೆರೆಗಳಿಗಂಜಿದೊಡೆಂತಯ್ಯ?
ಸಂತೆಯೊಳಗೊಂದು ಮನೆಯ ಮಾಡಿ ಶಬ್ದಕೆ ನಾಚಿದೊಡೆಂತಯ್ಯ?
ಲೋಕದೊಳಗೆ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದ ಬಳಿಕ ಸ್ತುತಿನಿಂದೆಗಳು ಬಂದೊಡೆ
ಮನದಲಿ ಕೋಪವ ತಾಳದೆ ಸಮಾಧಾನಿಯಾಗಿರಬೇಕು
ಚೆನ್ನಮಲ್ಲಿಕಾರ್ಜುನಯ್ಯ, ಕೇಳಯ್ಯ!

Here is my attempt at translating this vacana. 

Can you be scared of wild beasts, when you live on a hill top?
How can you panic by the surf and the wind,
When your home is on a beach?
Having built your house at the market square,
Can you shy away from the noise?
You are born in this world; so give up your anxiety!
Take adulations and abuses
Wth a stable mind !!
Oh, listen to me, chennamallikArjuna!*

*Chennamallikarjuna : is the signature of akka mahAdEvi

I think I should add a line to her vachana:  

How could you be afraid of earthquakes, when you live in the bay area?

-neelanjana