Friday, November 01, 2002

The news about the earthquake in Italy is very scary. Geologists say that Israel should expect a devastating earthquake in the next 20 to 50 years. The last devastating one was in 1927, when the country was hardly populated and not built up at all. Apparently we’re due for another one. It might even be as big as the one in 1202, which we know about because of what it did to a crusaders’ castle (these were built to withstand marauding Arabs, so you can imagine how sturdy they were).

Here’s the Home Front Command guide (in English) of what to do in case of an earthquake. Someone somewhere has decided to send everyone pamphlets about what to do in case of an earthquake. It’s going to be sent with our electricity bills. There are public announcements about this on the radio, telling people to read them and keep them. This is just as well, because I probably wouldn’t have noticed it and would have thrown it out without looking. They make sure to point out that this is routine, “just like in other places”.

I remember one time, when I was a teenager. We lived in Haifa, which is more connected to the African-Syrian rift than Tel Aviv. It was after lunch resting time. Dad was asleep in bed. Mum was in the living room, resting on the couch and I was in my room. Suddenly the walls were shaking and the windows were rattling. At first I thought it must be a fighter plane flying overhead, crossing the sound barrier, as often happened in those days over Haifa, but it didn't stop. It went on and on. I opened the door to my room, just in time to see my Dad (usually unwakeable in those days) barging out of his room like a bat out of hell. My Mum told us she had been lying on the couch when she suddenly noticed the big heavy glass lampshade on the ceiling above her swaying from side to side (it was not the swaying kind of lampshade). She was sure it was going to fall down on her head. From that day on, there was a big crack running right along the living room ceiling from wall to wall. It was very deep and it wasn’t possible to fill it.