Nepal’s Earthquake: An MBA’s Account

Destruction along the trail. Courtesy photo

Destruction along the trail. Courtesy photo


When Danilina woke in the morning, she was ready to press on. Soon after setting off, she met two Australian mountain bikers named Tim and Benny who were attempting to through-ride the Nepal section of the Great Himalayan Trail. The Aussies had the most accurate information Danilina had heard. Things were bad. They told her the magnitude and that thousands were already confirmed dead. And Danilina was heading toward the destruction. They told her to turn around. For the first time, Danilina heeded the advice and turned around.

Danilina walked nearly 30 miles in one day to Tumlingtar—the nearest town with an airport. Despite hearing the news and seeing people sleeping in tents outside of buildings for fear of more aftershocks, Danilina’s luck was finally turning. She was able to connect with her parents and even found wifi to respond to all of the “are you alive?” Facebook messages.

Still, finding an international flight out of the country seemed pretty much impossible at the time. But Danilina had planned on being in the country for three months, anyway, and was more than content with the hot showers and chocolate she found. And that was one of the biggest issues Danilina saw from outsiders attempting to aid in the crisis. She experienced, through social networks, many Westerners flexing their Western privilege and trying to “save” their fellow Western tourists trapped in the country.

“Thank you very much, but, at that point, I was sitting in the garden of a very nice house, sipping cold beer in great company,” Danilina wrote on her blog describing her situation while waiting to get out of the country. “Trust me, I was the last person who needed help. The people who did need help were all those living in villages outside of Kathmandu whose houses were destroyed. However, their tragedy won’t attract as much attention as ‘rescuing’ a Westerner.”


Truth is, and as Danilina acknowledges, she had an incredible string of luck. She happened to be in a village far enough away and low enough in altitude to not experience damage, while there was destruction very nearby. Two random Aussie mountain bikers convinced her to turn around. She waited less than 48 hours for a flight from Tumlingtar to Kathmandu, got a flight to Abu Dhabi within the same day and was home soon after.

Despite all that, Danilina still dreams of walking the Great Himalayan Trail. “I think some people will never learn,” she says, laughing, also mentioning she will give it time before discussing her future trekking plans with her parents (sorry to spill the beans, Mr. and Mrs. Danilina).

Regardless, Danilina learned much about herself and the world.

“The most important thing is deciding to do something, and once you’re in the situation, you find a way out of the situation,” she says. “People were telling me, ‘We thought about all the bad things that could possibly happen, like you get lost, you get attacked, but a 7.8 earthquake was never one of them.’”

As she notes on her blog, determination and hard work help, but a little luck goes a long way as well. “Luck matters much more in life than I could ever think, and I am one very lucky monster,” she concluded.


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