Despite bringing along important documents and overnight necessities, my midnight camping “trip,” along with the rest of Chengdu, didn’t last long. I called it quits at 3 a.m.
All would have been quite comfortable outside had it not been for a couple of annoying factors, Little Flower being one of them. Our complex had quieted down to silence by 1:30 a.m., with everyone exhausted after their panic run. Finally, a relieving peace had drifted down upon us. But Little Flower had refused to stay put in her carrier. While I snuggled under my comforter ready for sleep, the dog waited anxiously on the walkway leading to my apartment.
It was obvious this outdoor business was not at all to her liking because my longed-for rest was interrupted with pathetic whimpers, followed by an insistent “yip!” or two.
I’d have almost slept through that except for the cell phone that went off next to me. The woman answering stumbled upward from her portable cot and sleepily sifted through her belongings to find it. The constant ringing sent several sleepers muttering but it was her answering that was the most irritating. As many in China do when talking on cell phones, her call became a shout to be heard by the person on the other end.
“I’m outside!” she snapped testily after spending about ten seconds with a back-and-forth ping-pong match of “Wei? Wei? (Hello? Hello?)”.
Obviously, someone’s battery was low.
Then she went on about the rush outside, what was it like on the receiver’s end, if family members were O.K., and a string of other loudly proclaimed comments I couldn’t understand due to her thick Sichuan accent.
To make matters worse, she didn’t seem ready to stop anytime soon.
And the strong lamplight that shone down was yet another element that had me moving back indoors. Due to my slow response in packing up belongings and getting out the door, all the darkest, best spots had been taken. I was left with the undesirable place below the compound’s lighting system.
While my move to the couch (nearest the door) didn’t prove to be the best night’s rest, it was a lot better than putting up with the outside. Plus the dog was happy, along with the kitten, so we as a family were somewhat satisfied.
5 a.m., I heard Jalin and her parents coming home from their night out at the overrun Sichuan University campus. 6 a.m. had several apartment residents who live above me (the young crowd in their 20s) trapsing tiredly upstairs. By 6:30, more were stirring in our complex. They heading back to their homes to make breakfast and get ready for work. People seemed satisfied that, at least for now, the earthquake was not an imminent threat.
The news continues to caution that there could be a hit during our daytime hours. Thus from time to time this morning, families in my compound are returning to their bedding locations outside. They will be doing so for the rest of the day, just in case. Our 10 tent dwellers are a bit more at home and more able to stay put. After almost a week of camping out, they have quite a stash of home items surrounding them.
The same probably goes for those in the small public park next to me. When I last toured that area on Friday night, there were a few spaces available for squatters. I’m guessing, however, after last night’s surge, those spaces are long since gone, especially as the apartment building a block away is 40-stories high.
Going on 10:30 a.m. here, I’m assuming that schools in the city and all classes on our campus have been canceled, although I might be mistaken. Yet if I’m wrong, I don’t think there’ll be a problem.
This is definitely one day I doubt any of us will be chastised for playing hookie.
Until next time, “Ping An!” Peace to all