I got an email from M V Krishna this morning addressed to Pavan, Pushkar, Venkateshwar and me wishing us a happy 3rd anniversary. It struck me instantly that today was December 26th, exactly 3 years after the tsunami of 2004 in which the five of us were caught and escaped miraculously.
The email brought back memories of that day and the days preceding it.
It was nearing December end - a time when there is not much work happening in office because most of our clients are off for their annual Christmas break. Some of us wanted to go to some place for a few days and chill.
Unfortunately, we had not planned in advance and because of that many places like Goa were ruled out. Travel bookings were also increasingly difficult. Accommodation was even more difficult to get.
Finally, an uncle in Chennai managed to get us 3 cottages at a resort in Mahabalipuram for the 25th, 26th and 27th nights. 6 of us - Pavan, Pushkar, Venkateshwar, M V Krishna, Srikanth and I were supposed to reach on the 26th night and Uma and her kids were to reach the following day.
Unfortunately Srikanth met with an accident on the 25th morning and had to drop out at the last minute.
The rest of us set out and reached Chennai late in the evening. We took a taxi and headed out towards Mahabalipuram. We toook the picturesque new Mahabalipuram road which ran parallel to the East Coast of the country. Even in the night the sea was beautiful. The strong waves, the pollution free atmosphere and the great weather had all our spirits up and we were looking forward to the great time we were going to have.
I remember making a comment. I told the other guys that however much fun we would have, we would tell Srikanth that he was lucky he did not come because we did not have any fun at all so that he would not feel bad at missing the trip.
I did not realize at that time how prophetic my words would turn out to be.
We reached at around 9 in the night I think. We checked in to our rooms. To our delight, we were given rooms right on the beach. There was sand under our feet as we stepped out of our room. We freshened up and went to the open air restaurant. We finished dinner and then went to relax at the beach.
There was a row of reclining chairs which we sat on and were laughing and joking for about an hour. We planned for the next day. We would come back to the beach the next morning after getting ready, spend some time there and then go over to the Mahabalipuram city and do some sight seeing. I had learnt about the Shore Temple and the Pandav Rathas during my school days and was looking forward to seeing them.
We then went over to a table tennis table and played for some time. It was probably around 2:30 in the night. We were all quite tired by then. We decided to call it a day and went back to our cottages and tried to get some sleep. Pushkar and I were in one cottage and Pavan, Venkateshwar and MVK were in the neighbouring cottage.
The tiring day and the fun and games we had just had were taking its toll. Sleep was our master in a matter of few minutes.
Unknown to us, a few thousand kilometers away, a few thousand meters under the sea, nature was planning her next revenge against mankind for taking her for granted. Two pieces of earth slid past each other unleashing great power from within. This caused the displacement of a mind numbingly large amount of water which started making its way to land at a huge velocity, with a huge amount of force.