Shattered family of scientist pieces life together

Arduous journey: The nightmare the couple would like to forget

Shattered family of scientist pieces life together

In happier times: Scientist Dinesh, wife Navya Rani and their baby, who returned to Bangalore on Wednesday.

Dinesh, his wife Navya Rani and their ten-month-old daughter are among the fortunate Indians in Japan who returned home safe. They landed in Bangalore on Wednesday.

“When I came out of my apartment after collecting my passports on that ill-fated day, I saw a 60-year-old woman, who had lost everything in life. She was sitting alone on a road, hitting her hands and head against the ground. That one picture will haunt me forever.”

Dinesh from Hassan, a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow of Imram, Tohoku University, shared his experiences with Deccan Herald on Thursday.

His office was housed in a three-storey building, nearly four km from his home.

"After lunch on March 11, I was doing some experiments on a table around 2.45 pm. All of a sudden, the ground started shaking. I did not bother much as it is common in that country. It kept shaking for more time. I looked back and all my colleagues had gone out. I followed them, even as the floor continued shaking. I was shocked to see thousands of people outside.”

He saw window panes, glass pieces and other materials falling from the building.

“I went towards the road, but the ground was still shaking. It soon dawned on me that it was an earthquake of the highest magnitude in my lifetime," Dinesh recalled.

He was worried for his wife and daughter. Navya's experience of an earthquake in 2005 had changed her attitude towards the country. She kept telling Dinesh for three days before the quake hit that something major was going to happen.

"I took out a bicycle and rode it to my apartment, after efforts to reach her on the cellphone failed,” he said. What he saw there was beyond description.

Heart rending sight

“The weather had changed suddenly and there was snowfall. I saw my wife and daughter among hundreds of neighbours weeping outside the devastated five-storey apartment. She was barefooted and there was no proper clothing on my daughter. It was hard to imagine how they had been evacuated from the building," he said.

Dinesh went into the apartment to collect the passports. "When I was in the third floor, the building started shaking, forcing me to come down. Minutes later, I managed to enter my house in the fifth floor and got the passports.”

The couple then spent three days in a refugee camp in a school behind their house.

Ironically, the refugees learnt about the tsunami only three days after it struck, as they were not accessible to the outside world.

He said the Indian embassy was late in responding. “Four days later, nearly 40 Indians were shifted to a hotel where there were no proper arrangements.”

The family got into a bus to a nearby place and then took a train to Tokyo. “We flew to India from Tokyo. With much difficulty I contacted my parents to inform them we were safe," he said.

Dinesh says he has no plans to seek a career in Japan in future. "I will soon be joining International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials, Hyderabad of the Centre’s Department of Science and Technology,” he said.

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