No sooner did I took a sigh of relief from Hurricane Dennis for almost wreaking havoc over
Redneckville Mobile, Alabama and then along came another one(Hurricane Katrina) just within a month. We prepared for Katrina just like how we also planned for Dennis. We decided to ride out the hurricane at a friend's second floor apartment in case Redneckville got severely flooded, which later on seemed to be a good idea. These "friends" of ours live in a two bedroom apartment along with their parents visiting from "the old country".
I'm very well acquainted with his Dad because he was my Urdu teacher in high school. He always seemed calm, collected, and very gentleman like. But, when it came to his subject, he was extremely strict . Whenever it was in-class reading day, each one of us had to standup in class and read the material out loud in front of the whole class. If anyone made a mistake then he would scold us with great fury and say some very self-esteem shattering things to you in the process. Sadly, I never was good at reading and writing in Urdu and therefore, always fell victim to his fury. When I met him after five years, he talked to me like he was conversing with his peer. It felt weird because I am used to being talked down to by him and he wasn't at all nasty. May be it's because I'm older now and therefore talk with a bit mature tone or else it could be that he's got a little old too and therefore doesn't have the stamina to yell or shout down upon me anymore. You ask why I mention this short profile on him? I'll explain later on why in the post.
Day 01: Sunday August 28, 2005
On Sunday evening, we all gathered at this "friend's" apartment. Let me elaborate on "We" here. "We" consists of:
- This friend, his sibling, and his Mom and Dad. [(Dad & Mom)->Friend->Friend's Sister]
- Me and two of my siblings.
- A friend of ours, his wife, and his infant kid.
- A friend of his sister's and also her brother. [Friend->Friend's Sister->Sister's Friend]
We all sat around the living room, talked about how this sh** is going to go down(hurricane preparation) and what to do when the sh** hits the fan(emergency scenario). :-) We had a meal and then watched a very crappy-ass bollywood film till 3:00 a.m. Since, I didn't pack before leaving, We had to go back to our apartment to get some necessaries like clothes, batteries, flash light, and tooth brush. When we got back to our apartment we thought since, the hurricane won't hit us until 11:00 a.m. lets catch up on some 'Zs' and then we'll headed back to hurricane HQ before 9:00 a.m. Yesterday(Saturday), the weather channel predicted that Katrina had a Northwest path which, clearly looked like it was going to miss Redneckville by 20-30 miles. Even if Katrina moved 10 or 20 towards the east then Redneckville would have clearly been in the red zone(destruction area) as opposed to the yellow zone(less destruction area). Just before I went to bed, I checked out the weather channel one last time before the power out, the current hurricane model showed that Katrina after all was going to make a Northeast cut clearly pushing Redneckville into the red zone. And now we also had to chock up plans for the "when sh** hits the fan" scenario too.
Day 02: Monday August 29, 2005
At 7:00 a.m. I woke up and looked outside the window. The weather outside was very calm and normal and then I went back to sleep. I was awoken at 9:30 a.m. by howling winds and the constant beeping of my answering machine resetting over and over again because of the power going out and back on again. We picked up our bags and headed for hurricane HQ. On our way back, there were so many fallen leaves everywhere, I had never seen such a sight before! Even some tree branches had already fallen on the roads by that time, we had to maneuver our car around them carefully to get across. We got back and found out that they had lost power at HQ. So, now we sat around talking to each other and having tea. Then suddenly I started to get warm and within an hour everybody started to sweat. I realized that the temperature was 89°F. At first, the heat didn't bother me, but a few hours without the AC, the heat became a little unbearable. By 2:00 p.m. we hoped to feel some serious winds to pick up that would rip the roofs off peoples' homes and uproot some trees close to our HQ, but nothing of that sort happened thankfully. Finally, the winds died down, darkness fell, and we lit up the candles. When night time came, no one could fall asleep in the unbearable heat.
I can't exactly understand why it is so hard for me to endure high temperatures around 90°F anymore. Because back in my
Malgudi Saudi Arabian days, I have gone to school and played Football/Soccer in the scorching heat of 45°C(113°F) and it didn't used to bother me that much back then. I think it's because I'm not used to that kind of hot environment anymore. I remember once a heat wave of 48°C(118.7°F) broke all past records. I went to Juma prayer on that Friday. It was so freakin hot that as soon as I walked out of the building, the hot air hit me in the face like a brick wall. The sweat on the skin evaporated within fraction of a second. Whenever the wind blew, it burned the eyes and cracked open the lips. It was horrible! I swear you could have cooked a full course meal on that asphalt, breakfast, lunch, dinner and all.
So then, one of us suggested we play Pictionary to take our minds of the heat and so we played Pictionary with just one candle. We could barely see the drawing board in the darkness. I think about 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. we ended the game. Some people are just plain losers and they get soar after they lose. You think for a bunch of losers they should have got used to the very real, frequent, and probable scenario of losing, but the haven't and are even more competitive. You should have listened to their taunts. It's only a stupid game you morons, deal with it!
Then somebody suggested we tell ghost/Djinn stories around the
campfire candle light. Everyone seemed to have a story to tell about how someone saw something lurking in the shadows and what not? But, no one actually experienced it themselves. Everything was hearsay or through a person of 3 to 4 degrees of separation. Some of those story sounded much like a ghost story from a Hollywood movie, I couldn't believe some of them held such unfounded nonsense about the supernatural world. You should have heard the crap they said back there. I was like, are you guys even vaguely familiar to the Islamic teachings? Damn you stupid idiots!
I think around 4 or 5 a.m. we set all our sleeping bags and blankets on the living-room floor and tried to go to sleep. Since, my back is not used to sleeping on the floor so, I crawled on to the couch and some how fell asleep.