I still remember the sunny afternoon on a Friday in Kobe, I was looking forward to a regular weekend and was busy closing most of the actions and head off to Tokyo back home. I used to stay in city of Kobe all the five days of the week and go back to my family on weekends those days of year 2011. It was 11th March 2011 and the desk was shaking for a long time.
The shake lasted a minute and I made a routine check on Yahoo Japan to check the epicentre. ZAPPED to know that it was northern city of Fukushima! which was more than 800 kms from the southern city of Kobe. If I could sense the shake in Kobe so far south, it must have been worse in Tokyo, called up my wife, the phone was DEAD!!!! A complete silence on the other end and it was an anxious two hours before I got the below mail from my wife who informed me that although the VOICE service was DOWN, the DATA, 3G service was ON. She explained me in my native language Marathi, that she and our daughter was safe, and no need to worry.I do not want to talk about the aftermath, me and my wife have put that behind us, but even the Youtube videos of the day, brings back the sad memories for our daughter.
I did not travel to meet my family that Friday and waited for Saturday morning to take the bullet train to Tokyo. Tokyo as per the media was already in a traffic burdened with people walking miles to reach home. The Shinkansen was on time the next day and as I walked back from the station to Seishincho in Nishi Kasai, the roads were all blocked with heavy traffic of people heading out of Tokyo. Every few minutes the aftershocks continued and we all felt as if we were not on land but a boat swaying in water….Went to the Sunamo department store/mall to pick up bottled water and other things, but the racks were all empty. No food items, literally nothing.All around Seishincho there were instances of liquefaction on the reclaimed land and construction work was already underway. The week opened with a stock market crash…. the news were continually flowing on NHK, gaijin (foreigner) community was converting to “flyjin”, flying out of country.Two days of family discussions, me and family travelled to Kobe away from the tough times in Tokyo then for a break.
Before March 11 of 2011, I thought I had seen a lot and had varied experiences what Japan had to offer. The incident made me realise that everything is transient, nothing is constant and that is why photographs help us record,reflect and experience life on a timeline. I bought my first camera on March 18th, 7 days after the earthquake and started recording photographs and my experiences.
This is my first photograph of the beautiful city of Kobe with my new camera which allowed me to shift my attention from negative news and concentrate on recording the beautiful positives…. the small things which are always around but we forget to appreciate.The Indian community in Japan has many stories of that day, it was a wake up call for those unprepared for such natural events… Tokyo Metropolitan Government has distributed handbooks to all residents a beautiful yellow book, which I believe is something we should read and re-read and re-read every once in a while…. TOKYO BOUSAI / LETS GET PREPARED (ENGLISH VERSION)I have seen many people who say that one gets “used to” the frequent earthquakes in Japan. I do not think so. Complacency will catch you off-guard. Please stay prepared. I remember writing an article in a magazine J-Life by Alc.co.jp in 2005, 6 years before March 2011 incident, that one can never be “used to” earthquakes. No need to panic, but stay prepared and stay safe friends…..