12 April, 2021

"News Was Totally Blacked Out"

A hotel's eyeview of mayhem and disaster at Bhubaneshwar

"News Was Totally Blacked Out"

Huge sheets of rain pounded every standing thing, driven by winds well over 100 kmph. Trees came crashing down, blocking the hotel entrance and smashing boundary walls. Drains choked, the lobby became a lake.

The receptionist rang up to say that the hotel would be unable to serve its a la carte menu tonight. "Sorry for the inconvenience," she said.

Power was the first thing to go. This was followed by the Doordarshan and the local air station as their transmission towers went down like toothpicks. When telephones went dead, the cut-off was complete. I fished out my shortwave radio, only to learn that the outside world knew as little about what was going on as we did.

Through the day, waiters and other hangers-on monitored the mayhem and destruction outside. A few fearless souls were, however, about to lead a mission to a nearby paan shop for zarda and other stimulants. Did I want to send for anything?
The next morning, the weather had eased enough to allow the passage of small cars, scooters and motorbikes, which thronged the few functioning petrol pumps....

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