When Wellington Wiggled

Wellington decided to wiggle a bit more than usual on the first few minutes of Monday morning (14th November 2016).

It started off as slight trembling – which is a normal occurrence here in the Capital, so I didn’t think much of it. However the tremors didn’t stop after a few seconds. Instead it grew stronger – strong enough to rouse the Grizzly Bear from his slumber. We waited a bit longer but the movement didn’t abate – the intensity just grew stronger. And then the house started to sway. Side to side – slowly at first, and then it started to shake. I thought of doing the “drop cover and hold” maneuver but – I was in bed. I mean, do I  go out into the lounge while the house was doing the Macarena, just to go under a table? I stayed put, I couldn’t – not just because of the shaking, but more so because the Grizzly Bear threw himself on top of me (my hero).  The shaking lasted quite a while but the movement stopped, eventually. (we found out later that there were 2 earthquakes one after the other, which was why the shaking took so long). 

We survived. The house – which I kinda expected to just slide down the hill – is still on its feet, and the chimney hasn’t tumbled down. Nothing was broken; utilities (power, water and gas) weren’t disrupted; the bank behind us held up. All’s well. Even the cats are okay.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for parts of Kaikoura (epicentre of the quake), parts of Christchurch and  most of Wellington CBD. Work was suspended later that day as engineers examined the buildings in Wellington Central, and emergency services cleared debris which consisted mostly of broken glass. Trains and buses were cancelled as well – they had to check on the train tracks and power lines weren’t damaged too much by the quake. Furthermore, there were several aftershocks that day – from 4.5 to 6M in intensity.

To make matters more interesting, the forecast for Monday evening was rain with gale force winds (up to 140 kph). This on top of a month’s worth of rain (about 88 mm) dumped on the Capital on Saturday.

It’s now Tuesday and I’m now back at work. Thankfully, the forecast of Gale Force Winds didn’t eventuate, but we are getting inundated by so much rain, and it appears it will be like this for the rest of the week.

Walking up Cuba Street from Manners Street, a lot of the department / clothing stores have remained shut – obviously waiting for the “go-signal” from city engineers. Meanwhile, their mannequins and other displays are strewn across the floor. I was tempted to take photos of the “damage” but realised, there are already too many photos of devastation (not just because of the quake) and unhappy occurrences in existence, I just didn’t feel right about adding any more to it. So I walked on, and decided that I will focus on finding beauty in the world around me.

Yes, the world needs to know that “bad things” happen, but I think a lot of people already share this around. There are photojournalists who go to war torn areas and send back photos of casualties of war, or those who document poverty and oppression. However, I think there aren’t enough photos depicting the simple beauty of life and of living. I’m not referring to photos that show amazing sunsets and fabulous scenery here – I’m talking about capturing the beauty in the mundane. And that’ll be my focus.

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