Cyclone Sidr veered off to the East

This is a revised post about Cyclone Sidr.  I didn’t get a chance to finish writing about the morning we woke to a clear sky, a light breeze, and no sign of the hurricane force winds we had been expecting.    We all had fun laughing at my preparations — but our moods changed over the course of the day, and then over the next several days as we learned about the devastation caused by Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh.  Kolkata was braced for the storm.  As of midnight, trains were still canceled.  Much of the Sunderbans was evacuated.  But then sometime after midnight, Sidr shifted East.

I grew up in the US when "atom bomb drills" were common in school, and when people built underground shelters stored with food and water.  Part of my childhood was spent on a farm, where we were often snowed in for days at a time.  So getting food in, making sure we had enough coal, closing windows and shutters against hurricanes, making sure the animals were safe — these are ingrained routines for me.

My preparations:

1. We brought in food supplies for a several days.  We had plenty of staples, but added vegetables, eggs, and bread — flexible foods.

2. We made sure we had enough kerosene for the generator in case electricity stopped.

3. Bijoy and I went hunting for warm clothes for little and big girls.  It was raining, and this was the day when local stores are closed.  But we found a lone hawker selling from under a tarpaulin, and bought him out.

4. We got out the wool blankets from last year.

5. Our building is part old, and part new.  I moved us to the newer part, 2 story and a very strong roof.  Most of the girls slept upstairs with massis.  I stayed downstairs with two of the little ones — Poomina needs her crib, and Ganga just wants to be with me.  The others are happier with the big girls.

6. I had staff stay overnight because in bad weather they couldn’t get here in the morning. 

7. Bijoy’s wife was sick at home so we brought her here so she wouldn’t be alone, without electricity or water when the storm hit.

8. I simply didn’t consider the possibility that the weather would be clear, with NO wind or rain this morning.  So I didn’t get up to wake girls, check, etc.  So, they missed school today.

I’d shown the girls the red colored cyclone on the map.  And I’d made all sorts of sounds to describe thunder and rain and wind… making them all laugh, but teaching about Bay of Bengal, and Bangladesh, and Kolkata…   We followed the weather map as late as 8 pm, and the cyclone was still coming our way.  Lowland villages and islands nearby were evacuated.  The next day we looked at where the cyclone had been…. It was all an experience in Time, Place, and Person — essentials of consciousness, and anchors to reality —

I slept so well knowing I’d prepared.  A few times I woke, aware of the LACK of sound of wind or rain, and fell back to sleep.  I slept right through what should have been the time to go to school, which of course was open.  I felt really stupid.

p.s. Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are more about where they are located geographically than about their properties.  This is my conclusion after Googling "hurricane vs cyclone."

November 2007
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