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Monday, October 10, 2005

Some Seismic Sense Sought

Assam-Type House
The earth quivers and hell descends on earth. We may blame the forces of nature for the devastation. But it is human nature, as I mentioned in my last post, which is really responsible.

My neighbours across the lane are adding two stories to their home. The construction began hardly 10-12 days ago and it's more than half complete. I was surprised to discover that there were no pillars, only brick upon brick and no supporting columns. My colleagues tell me that many houses in Delhi are constructed this way; it saves time and more importantly money. What about safety? Eternal optimists, I presume.

The British having learnt their lesson from the 1897 Shillong earthquake took extra caution in constructing buildings in the seismic active far eastern India. The Assam-type houses, a common feature in both the hills and the plains of the region are not only easy on the bank balances but quake proof of a very high order. But then the common man discovered RCC. Common sense gave way to rigidity; the sense of aesthetics also got a little wayward. No new Assam-types are being constructed and the existing progressively demolished. Land prices have become directly proportional to the altitude of the buildings.

When the earth trembles, I don't worry about my parents, I know that they'll be safe in an Assam-type cottage on the hills. About me, I don't feel very secure within the confines of modern architecture.


GIP said...


Stumbled across your blog and enjoyed reading a few posts. Glad things weren't worse where you are and that you are well. Horrible tragedy. I can feel some of the frustration of this post and some of the panic of the previous one. I was in Jaipur visiting friends during the Jan. 2001 quake. Though the shifting there was fairly minor, the fear was not. The stiff stone structure I was in, and many of those in the surrounding area, probably would have collapsed like a house of cards in a serious quake. At any rate, will check back at your blog periodically.

Take care

J. Ross
Brooklyn, NY

thalassa_mikra said...

Glad to know you are safe. That's an Assam-type house? It looks so Germanic! In fact with the roof, it looks like a cross between a Javanese style family home and a German manor.

Surprisingly, I have very little memory of what the houses in Assam looked like, except a lot of them were on stilts.

Shivangi said...

thanks for dropping by... Was going through your profile. What does pseudo journalist mean? you with HT?

Soumyadip said...

'Pseudo' because I make deceitful pretences and 'Journalist' because the contract which I signed with my employer says so.

And if by HT you mean the newspaper 'Hindustan Times', hmm... perhaps no.

Gypsy said...

nice blog, i enjoy reading ur posts....linked u!

Greta said...

I´m glad that you are well.

Too bad with the building of houses not meeting safety requirements. Very unwise.

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