Now, with cracks appearing on the same Boudhanath Stupa, Lhendup G Bhutia says this has become a human tragedy for Nepal
Around 11 kilometres from the centre of Kathmandu is the holy town of Boudhanath, a centuries-old chorten or stupa around which a bustling Buddhist town has grown. When I was young, my late grandfather who lived in Nepal would take me there and tell me that when the world will be coming to an end (a very Christian idea for a Buddhist, I know), I should try and find shelter in Boudhanath. The stupa, he used to tell me, would protect us.
I spent most of April 25, trying to frantically connect with my aunt, Tenzin Choden, and her family members in Kathmandu. No one answered the telephone in her house and an automated message on her cellphone informed me that her number does not exist. I learnt later that cellphone connections were down the entire day. I tried other distant relatives and friends in Nepal too. But up till now I haven’t been able to reach anyone.
As I waited and tried to connect, social networking sites were filled with images and updates of the destruction in Nepal. But all I had from my relatives was silence. I couldn’t help but think most about my aunt's two young boys, aged seven and four.
Eventually, someone from my family was able to get through to my aunt late in the evening. She said, in between sobs and frequent disconnections that as the trembling began, she and the children had run out of home to a school ground which is at some distance. But, the tremors were so frequent and so long, that she kept falling down as she ran. She has no clue how long they would have to stay in the ground or in what condition her house is in.
I unsuccessfully tried calling her again. And one of the last visuals I saw on Facebook late in the evening, put up by someone in Kathmandu, was that of the Boudhanath stupa and the long crack across its tip.
Lhendup G Bhutia is a journalist based in Mumbai