It was 12th June, 2010. M and I were on our way to Sikkim for our honeymoon. Dear Indigo delayed our flight to Kolkata, so we missed our connecting flight to Bagdogra (closest airport to Gangtok) and would have to spend the night in Kolkata. We didn't want to stay too far from the airport so we asked the owner of a touristy shop at the airport if he would recommend a hotel nearby. Eager to help (for a commission probably) he called up a hotel called Rupasi Bangla and soon there we were, outside the hotel. It didn't look very impressive and our fears were confirmed when we went upstairs and saw the rooms. They weren't dirty but there was something about the place that was shady. And of course the huge sign called 'BAR' outside the hotel wasn't making me very comfortable either.
I didn't want to make a big fuss and even though M wasn't very happy with the hotel either, we decided to stick it out by spending most of the day in the city. So off we went around Calcutta to Haldiram's, Howrah bridge, etc. and came back to the hotel. We were a little creeped out when we saw the bellboy who'd carried up our luggage now standing at the hotel reception desk in a suit. We figured it was odd and went upstairs to our room. We were just lying in bed cursing the deafening music that was playing when the bed began to shake. I asked M, 'Are you shaking the bed?' and he said he wasn't. The bed continued to shake and we looked around puzzled and scared. It was the last straw after all the creepiness we'd been experiencing. M got off the bed and started looking under it and around to see what was causing the shaking. The music from downstairs continued relentless. I was scared -- what kind of place was this hotel?! A few minutes later M still hadn't figured it out and got back into bed. We wondered if it was a good idea to get out of the hotel but it was already past midnight and we'd paid a decent amount for the room. I was desperate enough to go sleep at the airport but we decided it was just a few more hours. While we were still talking about this, I saw M begin to shake his leg and shouted at him, 'See! You're the one whose doing this!' and then we laughed in relief. The creepy feeling still hadn't left us though and it took a while till we fell asleep. The next day we were in Gangtok and during the whole trip we stayed in some really nice hotels, but we never could shake off the Rupasi Bangla experience. Every few days M would remember the incident and teasingly ask me if I wanted to go stay there again. In fact, to make up for the horrible night we spent at that horrid hotel, M went all out and we spent our last night at the Peerless Inn in Calcutta; it was simply luxurious and beautiful and a great way to end our holiday.
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Cut to 11th April, 2012.
M and I had just got home from running some errands and exhausted from the sultry Chennai heat both of us had collapsed on the bed. I was on leave but M had to go back to work, so we decided to just lay there and get some rest. Both of us were quiet, staring into space when I found myself shaking. Half-asleep I thought, 'Hey! This is like being on a train! Why am I shaking?' Annoyed and almost as if it was two years ago, I angrily asked M, 'Are you shaking the bed?' He immediately turned towards me and said, 'What?! I thought you were shaking it!' In a second it was as if we were back at Rupasi Bangla. I looked at the fan that was hurtling away at full speed. Dazed, I asked 'Do you think it's the fan?' M once again got off the bed and began looking all around and under the bed. I could still feel myself shaking...I was scared once again... what was going on?! He moved towards the foot of the bed and started physically shaking the bed. The bed hardly moved. Both of us looked at the other questioningly. M climbed back into bed for a few minutes and then decided it was time to go back to work. As M walked out of the door, I asked him, 'What if it happens again?' and he said, 'I'll come back home'. He put on his shoes and left.
I picked up the Ipad that was lying beside me and googled, 'earthquake Chennai', half-hoping there was some rational explanation to this. Nothing showed up. I persisted. Ah! -- one blog had just been updated 'Earthquake tremors felt in Chennai'. I called up M who'd just reached the gate of the apartment block, 'Hellooo!! That was an earthquake we just felt!' M was silent for a few seconds and said, 'Oh. No wonder... there are people downstairs and on the road!'
I continued googling and soon I had my answer:
I called up M and told him about it and we laughed at our collective cluelessness. M said, 'Ah, so now we've cracked the Rupasi Bangla mystery!' and I said 'Yes! Thank God!' It's shocking to see that there were almost four tremors that night and we only noticed the first one. This time, there were rumours of a tsunami hitting the eastern coast and we don't live too far away from it, so M came home early and we left the house. It was scary in its own way... we just kept driving around until Baba told us that the tsunami warning had been called off. Alhamdulillah that we didn't lose anything either in 2010 or 12, but gained a story instead.