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The rise of the tsunami fear

So there was an earthquake this week. Except in West Bengal, where it’s called a “rollback”. Natural disasters seem to be on the rise these days; Japan had a tsunami last year, America had a devastating tornado earlier this year, and India was struck by a horrible case of Housefull 2 last week. It was directed by Sajid Khan, who, when he is not engineering the devolution of cinema, campaigns to have heavenly bodies smaller than him stripped of planet status. So yeah, Pluto’s only crime was being smaller than Sajid Khan.

But earthquakes aren’t what they used to be. They used to be celebrities in their own right, paragons of destruction, the rockstars of the disaster world. Kim Kardashian even tried to marry one. (Didn’t work out in the end. “I’m an earthquake, not herpes” the quake was quoted as saying). But now earthquakes have become just the tip of the iceberg, just the Launchpad for an even more famous disaster; the tsunami.


Agonising: While the world witnessed a few natural calamities last week, India was struck by a horrible case of Housefull 2, directed by Sajid Khan

Now every time there’s an earthquake, all anyone wonders about is whether it’ll cause a tsunami. This week’s earthquake was an 8.9 on the Richter scale, which makes it “Really f****g massive” on a conversational scale, and “yawn” on Sajid Khan’s scale. And it was underwater, so everybody panicked and waited for what they thought was the inevitable tsunami. Warnings went out everywhere, from Indonesia (understandably) to Chennai (again, understandably) to Mumbai (huh?). For those who failed geography, Mumbai is on the west coast, shielded from any potential tsunami by, well, all of India, Sri Lanka, and “the spirit of Mumbai” a metaphysical concept that allows Mumbaikars to get up and go to work roughly two hours after somebody has shot them in the face.

The only way that tsunami could have hit Mumbai is if it had bounced off Pakistan and then hit us, which can’t happen because, as one geophysicist explained to me, “Stop taking drugs.” But this didn’t stop people from panicking, and the tsunami warnings even came with exact timings of the wave. It was expected to hit Mumbai at 9:38 pm, and I waited until midnight, and nothing arrived. This is why you don’t let Kingfisher Airlines manage tsunamis.

Offices were evacuated, people were sent home, and people confessed to other people that in case this was the end, they wanted them to know that they have always loved them. This resulted in at least one awkward conversation between Suhel Seth and Arnab Goswami, but that’s another story for another day. What is worrying however is the fact that panic-waves about the tsunami travelled faster than the actual tsunami.

Most people of course blamed the Mayans, a race of ancient people whose calendar ends in 2012, which has led people to believe that the world will in fact end this year. If that’s true, I’m hoping it happens after July because I’ve got a nice vacation planned, and more importantly, I really want to know how the third Batman movie turns out. I don’t believe the Mayans, or to be more accurate, I don’t believe our interpretation of the Mayans, because there have been many times I have started a job, gone out to lunch, and then forgotten all about it. What if the poor guy in charge of the calendar went for a boozy Friday lunch, took the weekend off, and then just never got back to it?

So in the event of a natural disaster, do not panic. Follow these basic steps to ensure survival; 1. Prepare a basic survival kit, including ample water, first-aid equipment, and light-sources like torches. 2. In the event of a disaster, stay away from gas mains and electric boards. Hide under something sturdy and unbreakable, like a table, or Aamir Khan’s sense of self-righteousness.

3. Grab your phone, laptop, iPad and anything that connects to the internet. Throw it out of the window. This will prevent you from spreading ridiculous panic by forwarding stupid messages, and will save you a lot of money you would otherwise spend downloading Angry Birds. If you follow those steps, you should be fine. Unless the disaster in question is Housefull 2, in which case you’re doomed, but you also probably deserve it.

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi 

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