'It feels wonderful to be
Back from Phuket after the
tsunami struck, actress Juhi Chawla-Mehta recounts her experience
My family — that is my
husband Jay and my two kids and I — had gone with a large group to Phuket,
Thailand, and were staying at a resort. It was early that morning when the first
effect of the earthquake was felt. The bed shook violently. But I thought it was
just Jay trying to be discreetly restless — trying not to wake me up. I kept on
much later that we heard that it was the
quake. We were astounded by the tsunami that followed. The invisible hand of God
must've protected us, how else to explain it? There were stories filtering in of
hotels washed away, of people stranded.
And at our hotel, even though the huge waves struck, we were spared.
calls from our friends Zeba and Rajesh Kohli whose hotel too, had been struck.
They managed to text message us that they were taking refuge behind a large
mountain. At our own hotel, people were having
breakfast by the seaside when someone noticed the sea
recede — a warning that a tsunami was about to build up and strike.
Then the flood waters kept rising. People moved from the first level of the
resort to the higher levels. Thankfully our room was at the back and high
I must say
that the Thai authorities were quick to respond. Phone lines were restored ASAP.
The locals began providing food, transport and basics to those
stranded. There were warnings that there could be more waves or quakes, but Jay
and I decided to stay on. I mean, if something had to happen, it could happen
anywhere. So we said a prayer and stayed on. The hotel made arrangements for a
quiet dinner and floating deeyas to create a mystical evening — we all prayed
when the candlelights went up in the sky. A prayer for those less fortunate. The
only times we were fearful was at night, when fears tend to
run riot. Of course, I refused to leave my babies alone after that. I made sure
they were always with me. All this makes us value what we all have. It just
feels wonderful to be alive. As told to OMAR QURESHI
THANKFUL: Juhi Chawla Mehta