Stress, worry and fear — the Nepalese families in the city have experienced all these and more emotions in the past 30 hours, after learning that their dear ones are battling the deadliest earthquake in Nepal in decades.
“My family lives in Kathmandu, one of the worst-hit areas. The few hours when I could not get in touch with my family in Kathmandu were terrible. I had imagined the worst. It was only later that I realised that their phone lines are dead. I got to know they are safe when I saw an update on their Facebook account. The moment can’t be described,” said Poonam Lamba, a Navi Mumbai resident who lives with her family of 10.
Lamba, like many from her community, has cancelled her trip to Nepal scheduled on May 9. “Most families plan their annual trips during this time of the year as the weather is quite pleasant. My daughter, who is a Zumba trainer, was to hold a workshop there. But all plans have gone haywire. I guess such is life, and there is little that we can do,” said Lamba.
Belapur resident Suneeta Chhetri, who hails from Pokhra, the site of the earthquake, said her family is going through a tough time. “They are safe, but they cannot stay in their house and are living in tents built on a playground, without electricity and phone services. From their tent, they saw their house develop cracks,” said Chhetri. “We are shattered. With many landmarks destroyed, we have lost our childhood memories,” said Chhetri.
Chhetri said she is relying on Nepalese television channels such as Avenues TV and Kantipur TV to get updates. Chembur resident Rohit Pradhan said, “We are entirely dependent on social media and messaging services for information.” Pradhan said he, too, was scheduled to fly to Nepal in mid-May, but was forced to cancel it.
Both Pradhan and Lamba are members of the Bharatiya Gorkha Ekta Sangh, a 13-year-old organisation for the Nepali community in Mumbai. “There are more than 10,000 families living in the city, mostly in Andheri, Mira Road and Navi Mumbai. In a day or two, we will start collecting relief fund for people back home,” said Lamba.