the porous city



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The aftershocks keep coming; the most recent was around 11am this morning, almost two days after the quake. Rumors were flying for a while about a second quake that was supposed to hit around 5pm yesterday, then it was scheduled for 10pm to 2am. ("Don't go to sleep!" they said, "the buildings won't be safe!" We slept like stones.)

My friend Laura used to work in public radio in the States, so affiliates keep calling her cell phone for an "eyewitness report". We find this hilarious because we have only a street-level view in a city that was mostly fine. We haven't even seen the pictures yet from the villages that were hardest hit.

She has to tell them that there's little obvious damage in Chengdu, and unlike the villages near the epicenter, few people have been hurt so far. There have been power outages, some people are sleeping outside, either by choice or necessity, and many shops and restaurants have stayed closed since the quake. But mostly the city has hummed along with just an extra current of nervous energy.

Today though, one rumor came true: they shut off the water supply. Everyone remembers the contamination of the water supply in Harbin by benzene, and no one knows what could be happening to Chengdu's water. So people are in full-on food and water hoarding mode; I have a backpack full of orange juice bottles myself.

By the way, for friends and family: I'm hanging out with three people here, all of whom live in China and speak Chinese. So we'll be alright.

last timestamped: 02:56:23 14-May-2008
in categories:Travel/Vagabond'08





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