Fu left for India on Nov 29. He volunteered to be on the interviewer team headed there to conduct interviews for the new hires. He had to visit 3 cities: Hyderabad, Chennai, and Delhi, before flying back to Tokyo.
He arrived in Chennai in the wee hours of the morning of Dec 1 and was to spend only one day in Chennai before flying to Delhi on the same night.
Just ONE DAY.
And that was the exact day the rain and floods went out of control.
He has auto roam and we are in contact quite regularly. Here are the order of events (Indian time) from our conversations:
1am: Arrived in Chennai and checked into hotel
3pm: Trying to get to airport, but no one wants to take them there
5pm: Finally got a bus after much negotiation and threatening (not sure what they threatened the bus driver with)
6.30pm: 1.5 hours later, nowhere near airport even though trip usually takes only 30 mins
7pm: Of all the things to happen, THE BUS DIED. What. the. shit.
7.15pm: Bus “somehow” came back to life -_- Drama much?
7.50pm: Received instructions to abandon the plan to go to the airport
8pm: Waiting at a random hotel which is fully booked, hoping for rooms to free up miraculously
9pm: Colleague drove to pick them up
9.20pm: Traffic at a standstill. Basically at the same spot as 20 mins ago.
1am: Finally arrived at Westin Hotel. 3km drive took 3+ hours.
8am: Airport is inundated with rainwater and had to close. They are officially trapped in Chennai.
11.55am: Considering chartering a helicopter to get out of Chennai
12pm: Called me via LINE and we chatted for 8 mins. Assures me they are very safe, and very well taken care of, just that they are stuck there for the time being.
1.20pm: I registered him on Singapore’s MFA so that they have a record just in case the situation worsens and they decide to evacuate Singaporeans
1.30pm: Found out that helicopter charter costs 1 million yen ($10,000), plus airports are needed (maybe helipads are not common in Chennai?) so plan dropped
1.45pm: Told me that power gets cut off but comes back up within 15 seconds with the backup generator kicking in
9pm: Internet connection is no longer stable and only has intermittent access. Called me again via cellular line but signal was so poor all I could hear were garbled sounds.
1.20am: I received a “yoyo” but when I replied just 1 minute later, he didn’t reply again. Updated him about Chennai airport scheduled to reopen only on Dec 6, and a temporary airport opened at a naval base 70km away
4.30am: Asked me to keep an eye on Singapore and Japan news and also asked if they will send help to evacuate (Chennai didn’t even make it to Straits Times news, and in Japan, they only advised citizens in Chennai to be careful -_- Duh.)
7.45am: Traveling to naval base is out. Hotel unwilling to risk transporting them there. When I asked if everything was ok, he gave a cryptic answer “We are spoilt”. Huh? Did he mean “We are screwed.” but got the grammar mixed up?
And this was how the conversation went (screenshot is Japan time):
NATURAL DISASTER AND HE HAS TIME TO GO FOR FACIAL?! But I guess if he has the leisure to worry about the condition of his skin, it’s pretty much an indicator of how things are like over there for him.
And then he sent me a picture of his breakfast:
2.30pm: Had internet connection again, and we managed to chat for a while. Finished his facial (excuse me while I roll my eyes), and told me they ventured out of the hotel earlier. It didn’t rain today and the roads are not flooded where Westin Hotel is. They even wandered to a nearby mall but it was closed as they were there too early (10am).
3.15pm: At 5pm, they are planning to drive to Bangalore where they can hopefully get on a flight home.
7pm: On the way to Bangalore Airport! He said things are actually way better once they left. He doesn’t even see flooding anymore! Estimated to arrive around 1-2am.
Hopefully he will be home safely soon!