Die Another Day – An Apocalypse Survivor’s Guide
[This article was published in the Times of India, Crest Edition, dated 15 Dec 2012. An e-version of the article is available here]
If the Mayans are to be believed, the world ends this month. And going by the increasingly bizarre stories in newspapers of late, the end is truly near. Why else would a boy be killed by friends for dropping a catch during a cricket match, people die in a hospital ICU because it ran out of oxygen, a teacher beat a little boy to death for coming late to school, or somebody make a movie like Khiladi 786? These are all signs that mankind is well past its expiry date.
I’ve been proactively watching repeats of some wonderful Hollywood movies like ‘2012’, ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and ‘Independence Day’ to prepare myself for the various ways in which it can happen. The great thing I have come to realize is that while a lot of people perish in these movies, many others survive. Yes sir, there are ways to save yourself. In the words of the inimitable Shiv Khera, “You Can Win.” Save yourself, that is. All you need to do is follow the path Hollywood has showed us. As luck would have it, I have done that homework already. Just read on, and thank me later when we cross paths while foraging for dinner in the new world.
The first and foremost thing is – DO NOT be anywhere near New York when it happens. Especially the Statue of Liberty, which is invariably the first structure to be destroyed. It’s almost like front-row tickets to the end of the world. Seriously, that city is cursed. Always the first to be attacked by publicity-seeking aliens, earthquakes, and tsunamis, financial or otherwise. Get away while you can. Unless you are Will Smith or someone such who will be the only one to survive and go on to save the world.
In general, don’t be near the coast. Get as far inland as you can, which will save you from the inevitable tsunamis and resultant floating ships further blocking already clogged roads. Talking of roads, have you seen the crazy rush to leave the city to escape an impending disaster? You don’t want to be left honking in frustration, only to be shot dead by an angry Gurgaon resident. Smart people will book advance flight tickets on Expedia to beat the doomsday traffic surge. Or at least keep a helicopter handy, to beat the rush.
Also, stock up on petrol. If you survive, you can be the new kingmakers if you have a few barrels of the precious fuel hidden away. Assuming it doesn’t blow up on you, in which case, well, at least you tried.
Fire is crucial. Remember how in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, they survived by burning books. Imagine if they were stuck with a soggy pack of matches, or were trying to create fire by rubbing stones together. All of them dead of hypothermia. Keep some water-proof lighters handy. And some books. Could try some Salman Rushdies. People say they are explosive.
Oh, and very important. LEARN CHINESE. Those hard-working people are probably already toiling on those giant ships that will save us all. Imagine you somehow manage to get to the entrance, they greet you with “Ni Hao! How are you?” in Chinese, and you get kicked out when you respond with a blank look. Can’t be rude to our saviors.
Social media addicts can forget about using Twitter and Facebook when it happens, because the Internet will be down. There won’t be any hashtags to follow, or anybody’s ‘stay safe’ tweets to fill you up with hope. This is where radios save the day in the movies. Apparently they keep working when everything else fails. Remember how Will Smith’s radio transmissions help him save himself in ‘I Am Legend’? So get a radio, and learn how to use it. And for god’s sake, get some spare batteries. It would suck if the battery died right in the middle of your first contact with fellow survivors, and you miss the New Year party they were planning.
In general, the safer place to be during a calamity would be up in the sky. After all, the ground would be collapsing beneath your feet, or water would be flooding the streets. So get somewhere close to an airport, and learn how to at least start and put a jet into ‘flying’ gear, because apparently beyond that there isn’t much to do, except turning the steering left and right. The GPS might not work, so keep Google Map direction printouts handy, and you’ll pass the test with flying colors.
The absolutely safest seats would be in space, but that might be tricky for most people. If you are an astronaut and reading this, try to hitch a flight to the space station to watch the fireworks. Once you are back when it all ends and the sky is a perfect shade of blue, you can always write a book that will become an immediate best-seller.
Umm…what else? Withdraw cash from the bank. Get packs of instant noodles, which you’ll cook by heating water using the lighters you also saved (remember?). Get medical supplies, to avoid having to fight raging wolves aboard a stranded ship (The Day After Tomorrow) to save your bleeding girlfriend. Get a nice rifle (and lots of bullets), just in case you end up fighting aliens or zombies. And forget about dieting for the meanwhile. Eat all the aloo paranthas you can. After all, kal ho na ho.
Also, very importantly, stay close to a TV at all times, because the US president will keep us posted with updates every 15 minutes on Doomsday.