My National

My National

Did someone say earthquake? We’re shaken, but not stirred

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Did you Keep Calm and Carry On? These shoppers at Mushrif Mall were evacuated, but waited for the all-clear and returned to spending.
Did you Keep Calm and Carry On? These shoppers at Mushrif Mall were evacuated, but waited for the all-clear and returned to spending.

How was it for you? Did the earth move? I’m afraid to say I was a little disappointed.

By the earthquake that is. The one we allegedly experienced the other week. I say allegedly because everywhere I turn people are constantly recounting their experiences of the day the earth shook beneath them.

However, not having felt any of these recent earthquakes – because apparently there’s been more than one – nor having witnessed any damage, I can’t help but feel a little left out from the general city talk.

I can’t even be sure of where I was when two consecutive quakes happened just weeks ago. But for the latest one – the biggie, the one that measured 7 plus on the Richter scale and was deemed by some as THE MOST INTERESTING THING TO HAVE HAPPENED....EVER – I was sat with an acquaintance at Fashion Cafe in Al Wahda Mall.

This is the kinda place you would expect gets some action in the middle of a ‘quake. There are dangling bits, chandeliers and pieces of art, hanging all over its walls. Yet no dangling thing was shaking. Only dangling. Nothing else. Nada. Zip. Zilch. The first we knew there was an earthquake going on was when friends and family called to check on us.

Yet even as we fielded their calls we both looked up to the huge chandelier above our heads that was still stubbornly refusing to budge an inch.

So now, as it is rumoured another earthquake could be headed our way, I can’t help but wonder whether I’ll join that exclusive club of people who have fun earthquake stories to entertain their friends with.

Like my mother, who remembers rushing to the living room to save her glass photo frames from crashing off the cupboard tops.

She recalled her heroics to me afterwards. “I was swinging from side to side, bumping into the walls, until I reached the big frames on the top shelf,” she said, waving her arms excitedly.

Amused by her decision to save the “crashing items” rather than hide somewhere safe, I asked her what she was thinking?

“You wanted me to leave them to break? So I’d have to clean the mess for hours after?” she scolded me, as only mothers can.

You can’t argue with logic like that, and indeed, she accomplished her mission. She saved two of her biggest frames, while a number of others inside her glass display cabinet received only minor fractures after falling over.

Or like my friend’s brother, who carried on eating lunch despite the plates on the dining table shaking all around him. Unimpressed that various dishes were sliding across the table he merely treated his meal as a moveable feast, grabbing at bits of food as they rumbled past.

Or his mother, reading the Quran in the sitting room next door, who freaked out when her chair started shaking. Assuming an evil Djinn must be responsible, she began screaming for help....

The tales are too many and too varied to recount, from the office workers who evacuated their buildings, to those who Kept Calm and Carried On. But what they all proved in their own way is that UAE society is capable of laughing in the face of danger. Of being able to shake off and come through even those events that would test the nerves of others. We are a hardy community, and will not be shaken, even when the ground is shaking beneath us.

Having lived here for the past 16 years I have learnt to accept all of life – the good, the bad and even, sometimes, the terrible – with a positive attitude and to look on the bright side, to find humour even in the darkest places.

This explains how an earthquake – even just an alleged one – can become the talk of the town, inspiring jokes and funny stories across the land. I only hope that next time, it’ll be as good for me as it was for you.

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