#LIFELESSONS OF A HOTELIER
Imagine an entire earth heaving under you uncontrollably. Imagine a 21 floors hotel swaying from side to side with a deep rumbling sound. Imagine the walls are cracking like a spider’s web and the glass shattering everywhere. Imagine the horrifying screams everywhere. It was a scary. I had a unique room that day. I was staying in 2102 in Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu . I could hear people saying “Run , run I am going to die”. It was 8.30 am . October 15th, 2013.
The previous day we had arrived in Cebu in Philippines to attend the Annual General Manager’s Conference of the Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific. We were enthralled by the beauty of the sea and the bustling Cebu city. My wife, Sowmya also accompanied me on the trip as we had scheduled a holiday to Manila after the conference. The day we arrived we had the gala Awards dinner and we were very happy as Sarayu from Radisson Blu GRT won the Best Employee for Asia Pacific . We partied hard late into the night.
I realized, I was in an earthquake (learnt later of 7.2 Magnitude equivalent to energy generated of 32 Hiroshima nuclear bombs dropped at the same point!). The room 2101 was a corner rooms and the ceiling crashed. We were staying in 2102. I had gone down to the 1st floor restaurant to have breakfast as the first day of the conference was starting at 9 am . When the rambler hit the panic just drove all the people out of the doors into the car park like bullets ejecting out of a AK47. I realized Sowmya was in the room and tried to run against the panicked mob to reach the 21st floor but was pushed out . My adrenaline was pumping and I was screaming “ Let me go to the room. My wife is stuck there” and luckily I saw Sowmya running down in her night clothes with a brush in her mouth.
Sowmya after running down 21 floors in night clothes
I hugged her and looked into her eyes. I saw terror. It was ironical it was my birthday. October 15th , 2013.
There was a tsunami alert and all of us had to run behind the hotel. We experienced several after- shocks the whole day and next which were as scary. We slept the whole night in the garden as no one were brave enough to go back to the rooms through the rubble and sleep in a shaking building.
I learnt 3 things during this experience:
- LIFE CAN CHANGE IN AN INSTANT
We have this bucket list, we have these things we want to do in life, and I thought about all the people I wanted to reach out to that I didn’t, all the fences I wanted to mend, all the experiences I wanted to have and I never did. After this incident I got a sense of hustle or urgency in life. Today , I don’t wait and plan to do things . I live in the moment and live for the day. If I have to go see the pyramids of Egypt I will do it today !
Another important lesson is to be grateful for the little things in life — which may seem little when you have them, but seem a lot when they are taken away. Just the fact that you are alive and breathing is enough to feel grateful. After coming out of a catastrophe of this kind where the survivors have literally touched the doors of death and come back, everything seems a bonus; sleep, food, clothing, shelter, family, friends and a career. I assure you that you will never fall short of things to be grateful for.
- LET GO
Nothing is ours to keep, not our big and expensive houses, not our luxurious cars, not the lives of our families and friends and not our own lives. Nothing is ours to keep and you understand this more strongly than ever in the face of a natural disaster. That is how much power and wisdom lies in natural disasters.