It's been weeks & months since I've posted. We are now living in Dubai, amidst lots of boxes still waiting to be unpacked. This past weekend, we enjoyed our first dip in our own pool, at our new home. Enjoying happily... till we learnt that miles away, in Japan, in the country that we used to call home for the past 5 years, a massive earthquake had struck. By now, most of you would have seen footages of the disaster. We used to live in Tokyo & still have friends there. We tried calling our friends in Japan but in the initial hours, were unable to reach anyone. Slowly, we started getting emails from friends in Tokyo & from people who thought we were still in Tokyo.
We were also having breakfast then & felt so bad & guilty when this happened. This is probably the "big one" that all Japan residents have been waiting for. When we lived there, we had an emergency backpack (copies of passports, cash, wipes, face-masks, inhaler, medicines, chocolates, walkie-talkies...) & in the garden shed; boxes of canned food, more sugar items, water, first aid kits. When Martin & I had to fly to Dubai for the look-see trip, we made sure the kids knew what to do/where to go, just in case.... .
Maybe this is stupid but to be honest, the kids & I kind of wished we were still in Tokyo. I feel callous for wishing that we were there & then feel lucky too that we are not there. We have since gotten emails that our friends are alright & that some have left Japan, for fear of worst to come.
Mothers waited anxiously at home & it was hours before they were together with the children again. Husbands were trapped in the offices & if they left, had to make the way home on foot as the public transportation had shut down. A couple of the kids' old classmates wrote to us already. Quite a number of schoolmates were crying & most thought that they were going to die. All these kids in fear & their parents were seperated from them, during all those hours!
It happened shortly before 3pm on a Friday. The school buses would have left just after 3pm so the result was, most children had to remain in school till past 9pm since the roads were closed. The German school there is located in Yokohama, with a big river & overhead highway, between Yokohama & Tokyo. That highway was closed. We used to sign a form, allowing the school to take care of the children, if an earthquake should occur. Of course, a parent can also choose to go "rescue" one's kids from the school. We always hope that if an earthquake does happen, that the kids would be in school since the school is equipped to have the kids there for 4 days, with food.
Many walked home from the office & that was something which (when we lived there), my husband had also practised doing occasionally, to prepare himself. But then, it would have been a more difficult walk home now with thousands of people doing the same thing & the danger of aftershocks & falling debris from damaged buildings. He too, had an emergency backpack & an extra pair of good walking shoes, in his office.
Keiko Goke, an incredible quilter & fabric designer, whom we met in the Tokyo Quilt Fest - she lives in Sendai, Miyagi Perfecture where it was most devastated, I pray that she is alright as so many are missing after the earthquake & tsunamis of over 30 feet in height. More than half the city has been wiped out. We are glad especially for our families' sakes, that we have left Tokyo. And we feel guilty & worry though, for our friends who are still there. (Edited on 15 March : Keiko & her family are alright & still in her own house in Sendai, which is so amazing!)