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On the morning of 25-Apr-2015 I enjoyed pancakes & coffee for breakfast with the Nepali family who accommodates me during my frequent visits to Kathmandu. We discussed the old Audrey Hepburn movie "My Fair Lady" & watched some of the movie on YouTube. I have always loved the theme song "On the street where you live" so ironically I went off into the day with the words from one of my favourite songs on my mind..
  
"I have often walked down this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before.."
 
When the big earthquake struck around mid-day north west of Kathmandu, I was toward the epicentre in Kathmandu's north west fringe visiting a blind children's orphanage that MyDBA supports in partnership with the charitable organisation GDAP (www.facebook.com/gwahali).
 
MyDBA helped to form GDAP last year with a member of the Kathmandu Microsoft Innovation Centre staff, Sonika Manandhar who impressed us with her determination to provide support to a small group of blind Nepali orphans who are outstanding students, topping their classes in a regular school despite having limited special support for their visual impairment."
 
The GDAP volunteers were showing me a new computer lab they had recently built for the orphanage children. We had only just entered the computer room, switched on the central server and waiting for Windows to boot up when the building started shaking violently"
 
 The family home in Kathmandu
(the computer lab building & door I leapt from)
 
We were only a few metres from the front door at ground level so I picked up one of the children and was about to head for the door when Sonika said that we should stay inside. I put the child down as I realised she probably knew more about quakes than I did but I was frightened and decided to get out of the building anyway. All this in no more than 2 or 3 seconds as the quake was building.
  
I leapt out the front door onto heaving earth which was flowing like an ocean swell, making it impossible to stand upright. I instantly realised why Sonika was right about it being safer inside than out. I managed to stay on my feet but sprained an ankle badly in the process. Bricks and concrete were falling from buildings in the immediate vicinity. I was hit in the back and left arm but luckily neither did much damage other than some scratches.
 
A wheat field was only 30 feet away but I had to pass a 3 story building construction site to get there which was being thrashed violently by the quake. My ankle couldn't support my weight so I crawled the distance, watching upwards at the building site for more falling debris whilst being thrown around by the heaving earth.
 
Our driver followed me closely out of the building and was also hit by falling debris. A falling piece of concrete hit him in the head, puncturing his scalp and removing an area of flesh a couple of inches in diameter. We bandaged him with a t-shirt and placed his white baseball cap on for pressure which quickly turned red.
 
The initial quake lasted what seemed to be a very long time, though I have since read that it was only 30 seconds or so. Other less-intense but even more frightening quakes quickly followed whilst everybody called out hoping to hear responses but there was far too much noise to hear each other. 
 
Aftershocks are far more frightening than the first big quake because you only think of survival instinctively during the first shock but you're much more mentally conscious of the dangers during aftershocks.
 
Unfortunately the aftershocks continued for the next 5 days and continue as I write this. 
 
The quake had a full dimension of sound including high pitched screams, scratching and shattering sounds from debris, animals and people. A far louder, deep roar came from below the surface - a strange sound that was extremely loud but also inaudible, possibly below the human hearing range from the earth's movement
 
After the first couple of quakes finished, the children were led out into the wheat field where we huddled with other locals. A series of aftershocks continued shaking the earth, destroying neighbouring buildings and scaring the living daylights out of us. 
 
 Running for safety in wheatfield near GDAP during Kathmandu earthquake
(in the wheat field)
 
We stayed together in the wheat field for a couple of hours before returning the children to their guardians who were sitting safely outside the orphanage, which was also intact. Everyone was scared but otherwise uninjured so we decided to move our driver toward medical care and also attempt to get another visitor from Melbourne in our group to the airport as he was scheduled to fly out that evening.
 
As we descended back down into Kathmandu valley we passed through zones of utter devastation. I felt ashamed to take photographs and won't be sharing the few I took for my own memoirs. The Nepali army and police were already on the scene helping locals.
 
Once back down in Kathmandu, the streets were filled with people seeking safety from their own houses which might still fall. We heard radio reports that the major hospitals in the area were damaged but we found an impromptu medical clinic on the street and sought medical attention for our driver on a dusty street corner. The medics removed the piece of scalp, cleaned his wound and bandaged his head. They wrote his treatment summary on his forearm as a medical record for any other medics who might see him.
 
 Our driver was injured during the earthquake in Kathmandu
(our driver receiving medical attention at a street clinic)
 
I drove the remaining members of our group back to drop-off points around central Kathmandu. The last drop-off was at the airport after which I managed to hail a taxi home along new Bagmati road which runs around the rear of the airport, safely away from any houses.
 
As I arrived back at the family house in Jorpati (North East Kathmandu) one of the locals supported my weight and led me toward the local bus park where my Nepali family were huddled on rugs, thankfully uninjured. Their house was also undamaged thanks to careful planning in its construction by the family's father years ago.
  
We camped on the dusty Jorpati bus park grounds for two nights whilst making plans to depart for Singapore. The first night was spent completely exposed to the elements and thankfully it didn't rain more than a sprinkle. We set up a tarpaulin the second day and slept under it that night during which a large lightning storm passed over Kathmandu. We had some shelter but still got wet as the tarpaulin wasn't water-proof.
 
 Storm Shelter at Jorpati Bus Station
(our tarp on the right) 
 
Whilst camped at the Jorpati bus park we decided it was necessary to evacuate the family to Singapore so the mother could be assured of receiving medical treatment for the renal replacement therapy she depends upon. Kathmandu hospitals capable of providing this treatment along with her additional complications had either been damaged or would soon be over run with large numbers of casualties from the earthquake.
 
 Jorpati Bus Station Shelter 
 (Jorpati bus park evacuation area. Our tarp in the centre behind orange tarp)
 
Children playing at Jorpati bus shelter
(Karate practise continues) 
 
We made short trips into the house to pack our belongings and headed into the airport for a 9PM AirAsia flight to Singapore via Malaysia. The airport was a chaotic scene of exodus. We had only purchased one way tickets to Singapore, not knowing how long we would have to stay there and this proved a significant complication in our departure which was eventually resolved after much discussion.
 
Unfortunately our AirAsia flight didn't land at Kathmandu on schedule. After circling for four hours waiting for weather to clear for high altitude landing by a captain inexperienced at this airport, it was diverted to Calcutta. We had been looking forward to sleeping on aircraft seats rather than dusty blankets but we ended up sleeping on the airport terminal floor that night. At least we had shelter.
 
Delayed flight out of Kathmandu
(AirAsia D7197 diverted to Calcutta) 
 
Whilst waiting in the airport we witnessed a steady arrival of international aid from various countries, first from India but quickly followed by China, USA, France, Israel, Singapore as well as other countires. We saw huge military transports such as Globemaster, Ilyushin, Hercules and Airbus bringing in supplies and extracting citizens. 
 
International Aid arriving in Nepal
(Hercules on the taxi lane at Kathmandu airport)
 
US Air Force arriving in Nepal
(USA C17 Globemaster at Kathmandu airport)
 
An Israeli military search and rescue team stopped for coffee nearby our terminal campsite whilst waiting for their equipment and dogs to be unloaded. We chatted about their plans and one of them wanted to take photographs with me as we had both attended Table Tennis events at the Sydney Olympics. This morning I saw some of their "dog cam" video footage online as one of their dogs searched buildings for bodies.
 
Our AirAsia flight was rescheduled for 1:30PM the following day but again circled for two hours before eventually landing later in the afternoon. We were quickly summoned, boarded but then our plane needed its tires changed which kept us stuck on the tarmac for close to another 3 hours.
 
Eventually our flight was cleared but the captain was forced to stop during taxi whilst a wild dog was chased off the runway and we were finally on our way. We entertained ourselves trying to whistle it up from within the plane.
 
I want to say something positive about AirAsia. 
 
They scheduled additional crews from holidays and re-scheduled flights to provide evacuation options for people stuck in Kathmandu from the quake. Our captain was a highly religious Catholic who had planned to walk the Camino trek in the Spanish Pyrenees but he put his holiday aside to organise and lead an ad-hoc extraction flight for us instead. I am very thankful to him and his crew.
 
We eventually landed in KL at 3AM but the wheelchair we ordered wasn't ready at the gate, which triggered an interesting interaction with the AirAsia captain.
 
When the captain realised the wheelchair had personally called ahead to order wasn't ready, he asked his entire crew who were exhausted after the diversion to Calcutta to stay behind and help ensure a wheelchair could be found for us. He stayed with us and tried to comfort our exhausted Nepali mother whilst talking with the airport staff to round up the wheelchair. 
 
He spoke to his staff with words I instantly recognised as Nepali, the first being Sabai (everyone). I asked him if he was Nepali but he was Malayan. There appeared to be a linguistic connection between Nepali and Malayan, which I guess is obvious given the word "Malayan" is derived from "mountain range" just as "Himalayan" means "Mountain Range" in Nepali. We had a good chat about that until the wheelchair turned up and we were on our way. 
 
The Air Asia captain was an inspiration who arrived just when needed.
 
We have now been in Singapore a couple of days & medical treatment is difficult but going smoothly. I am planning to return to Kathmandu on Monday May 4th to start the process of rebooting MyDBA in Kathmandu.

Nepal now has its own mountain to climb & it is our turn to help carry some of their load.