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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Blame Celsius & Richter...

Jan. 9: He had gone to bed last night with a secret plan that if the cold weather conditions persisted, he would sleep late and take a French leave today.

Ramesh Thapar would not know, of course, that deep down in the bowels of the earth, somewhere along the Indo-Myanmar border, nature was letting loose a process that would eventually pour cold water on his plans.

Around 7.11 this morning, he was jolted out of his sleep, as the bed shook violently and the wood and glass almirah rattled, forcing him to clamber out from under the warm comfort of the quilt and send him scurrying downstairs to join a group of his neighbours in the apartment where he lived, at Ganeshguri.

“I don’t normally wear warm clothes in bed and there I was at the car parking lot, shivering in the cold and still feeling the tremor coursing through my body,” Thapar said. He was in office a couple of hours later.

“The joy of sleeping late, which I had hoped for was gone and there was no need to waste a leave,” he said.

The earthquake, one of the several that keep rocking the city with almost monotonous regularity, measured 5.9 on the Richter scale. However, no damage or casualty was reported.

“It was not the duration, but the intensity which scared me,” Rajiv Barua said, who, like Thapar, rushed out of his house to escape any possible disaster only to be greeted by a chill that penetrated right through his bone marrows.

The Richter and the Celsius counts appeared to be in a race with the minimum temperature today, measuring 5.7 degrees Celsius.

“No wonder it has been so cold since yesterday,” he said, when informed of the minimum temperature.

The minimum temperature recorded yesterday was 7.6 degrees Celsius while the maximum was 15.2 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature today was 15.8 degrees Celsius.

Small fires burnt throughout the day on roadsides and on the courtyards of houses, spreading warmth to those huddled around.

Some passers-by would stop in their tracks, too, and heat their hands over the fire for a fleeting feel of warmth before moving on.

“It’s so cold that I dread waking up early morning to go to office. The wind blowing outside is chilly and I could not keep warm, even after wearing multiple woollens. All I hope is that, it is pleasant next Sunday, as it is uruka, and people in our neighbourhood are planning to feast in the open field in the locality. If it rains or if it’s foggy and gets too cold, we may have to cancel the plan, with or without a bo-nfire,” Aradhana Borkotoky, a young professional, said.

However, the weatherman has dispelled fears of rain.

“We have no forecast of rain during the next couple of days, which is good, as rain may result in the weather turning colder,” he said.

Cold weather will persist for the next two to three days and the temperature is likely to dip further during the next few days. “However, the temperature will gradually start increasing, as we near the end of this month,” an official of the Regional Meteorological Centre in the city, said.

The cold also claimed three lives here yesterday. Holiram Basumatary, 35, a security guard of a resort in Sonapur, died on duty while one Paresh Barman, 50, died at Dhankhudi Kolongpar and an unidentified vagrant died at Pandu.