Friday, January 13, 2012

Sleeping with the Earthquakes!

It was chilly Thursday morning in Japan, my alarm was yet buzz to wake me up, when someone shook me vigorously till I woke  up. Only my younger brother, overfriendly room mate and son had ever done that to me before. Half angry and half surprised I woke up, there was none in the room. My bed in the hotel room on 25th floor was rocking like a cradle and i sat there frozen. It was a small earthquake in Tokyo, which did not even make it in scrolling news bar on any news channel. But I was shaken to the core!
How do Japanese people live and sleep with earthquake? In city like Tokyo, earthquake happens almost everyday. It does not even disrupt the city even for one minute. People in office don't even pause striking their keyboards unless the earthquake lasts for more than 20 seconds.


All Japanese residents are trained to deal with earthquake from age 2. There regular drills, like fire evacuation drills, which happen even in kinder gardens regularly. My friend's son rushes for the dining table and waits under it, if earthquake lasts more than 5 seconds. There are no loosely hung wall paintings, kitchen shelves are specially designed to make them quake-proof. So all in all earthquake in Japan is equivalent to rains in Singapore, it happens everyday but you hardly notice it.

What is even more amazing is there are skyscrapers everywhere in Tokyo. To make buildings structurally strong, they are squarish in shape. There are also rules about not building such buildings near main roads, just in case they fall down they should not block arterial roads. "Wow", I exclaimed as my friend was explaining to me how they built quake-proof skyscrapers. I learnt that the main difference between a normal building and quake-proof building is its foundation. Usually, we look for a deep and solid foundation to support the building. But that exactly is the biggest cause of failure in case of earthquake. Quake-proof buildings have rolling foundation. When quake hits the whole building rocks like a cradle and survives. The building with strong but rigid foundation perishes.

 When you encounter nature's raw force, the rigid wont survive. Someone who is nimble, flexible and willing rock in nature's cradle has nothing to worry. They can sleep well even in earthquakes!
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