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BY THE WAY
Visakhapatnam, October 13, 2014 Nivedita Ganguly
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Giving a minute-by-minute account meant that you are a witness to each moment in the disaster as it unfolds.

A cell phone tower that fell on a private building due to Cyclone Hudhud in Visakhapatnam. Photo: C. V. SUBRAHMANYAM
The Hindu A cell phone tower that fell on a private building due to Cyclone Hudhud in Visakhapatnam. Photo: C. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

A home by the beachside is a dream which I had nurtured for several years. But the very dream turned into a nightmare on that fateful Sunday, as we helplessly watched our house violently shaken at the mercy of the cyclone. The window panes were smashed, and the babies were crying - a haunting image that will stay with me forever.

Cyclones are a regular feature in the coastal city, thanks to its unique topography of long coastline on one side and the Eastern Ghats on the other. But this time, there were enough indications that the situation would be different. As wind speed picked up from the wee hours of Sunday, the city plunged into darkness. At 5.30 a.m. it had started to pour. Roaring winds and ferocious waves had already begun lashing the coast. The sea was turning rougher with every passing moment with high tidal waves pounding on the coast.

Standing near the rattling window pane, hearing the ghastly sounds of winds, the first sight I had was of a flock directionless birds being led by the powerful force of wind. As I started tweeting, I could hear the shattering of glass panels from the floor above us. Giving a minute-by-minute account meant that you are a witness to each moment in the disaster as it unfolds.

The first five hours, the wind directions came from the opposite side of the sea, which meant residents of the Beach Road were safe, at least for that moment. At 1 p.m. when the wind and rain subsided for an hour and the sun peeped out, it seemed almost unreal. As I mustered enough courage to step out, it was at that moment I realised the cruel ploy of nature. Within seconds, the skies changed colours. The devastating ordeal that followed lasted for 10 hours at a stretch.

Within an hour, I heard the shrieks from the neighbour’s flat. The gust had shattered their glass panel covering the kitchen and bedroom. Utensils went flying, LED television sets fell on the floor to pieces and the only thing they could do was to huddle together at the lower floors.

The impact of terrifying wind speed was enough to crash our kitchen’s window panel. By then the glass panel covering the drawing-cum-dining room was threatening to come off. At that frightful moment, I saw a big black object zip past us – our television set. It was almost impossible to prevent the glass panel from breaking. But if we didn’t do it, we knew the devastating damage it could inflict on us. No glue could hold the glasses together. A wild guess perhaps, but frantically I made dough from ‘atta’ and fixed it on the sides to make it stick to the frame. My flat had started shaking so violently that the only thing I could think of was to save our lives. With my passport and some cash in the handbag, we were ready to step out of the flat any moment. I have little memory of how long I stood by the door side. As the wind speeds dropped to 100 kmph at midnight, we knew we were just inches away from the clutches of death or the 'End of Life'. We knew the scars would heal - but the memories will haunt us for a lifetime.

October 10, 2014 Arvind Krish Bala
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October 1, 2014 ARCHANA NATHAN
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September 22, 2014 Radhika Santhanam
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