Vancouver Diaries

A Day of Disaster at UBC

It all started in the early morning. I woke up earlier than usual, wondering – why is it so damn cold? Did I forget to turn on the heater the other night? I looked at my table clock to see the time. It was dark and the display screen was empty. What the hell – I told myself and got up from the bed. I realized that my night lamp was off too. It did not take me more time to realize that the power was out and it was pitch dark in my room. This is a first – I told myself. I opened the curtains to let the daylight come in and I could only see a deserted frozen parking lot in front and very few people walking around. Hmm, this is funny – I told myself. Isn’t this supposed to be a Monday, a working day? With no power and no internet access, I did not realize that with no power around the campus, UBC announced that its going to remain closed today . Realizing that I can’t do much at home, I dressed up and left for school early, hoping that there will be power in the lab and I would be able to check my damn mail.
I went to the usual undergrad entrance and used my fob. Nothing happened! I tried to use the access keys when I realized that the keypad was dead. I went to the front main entrance and did the same. Nothing happened! Damn!!! “Open the damn door” – I shouted. Of course, no one was around. Meanwhile, I was freezing with snow and ice around and decided to use the reboot café entrance. Reaching there, I realized that it was already open and the access control was not working. So, I got in, went for the elevator. If I only knew that the elevators are down too. Realizing that elevators are useless, and that there was no power in the whole building, I sort of asked myself – How big is the affected area, is this only the residences and CS building or is it the whole campus? I climbed up the stairs and reached the lab. Fortunately, the access control was working fine in the lab, so got in and put my stuff. All machines were turned off, nothing was running.
I decided to explore how bad the situation was and take a few snaps as well. I went down and out. It was snowing lightly all around and temperature was bitter cold. I saw people taking snaps and going around, just as if it was another holiday break! Hmm, everything looked frozen and deserted. Snow, snow and snow everywhere. As I was walking past the UBC Aquatic centre, I decided to have a peek at the swimming pool to see if it were frozen. Nop! The water was cool and clear with all the surrounding areas covered with snow. I called my supervisor to inform him of the situation, learnt for the first time that UBC declared a holiday today and that rest of Vancouver was not as bad was the UBC, SFU and north Vancouver area.
I realized that I am not gonna have a good luck with food today because power was down. So I had to eat outside somewhere. I started walking towards the village. Reaching there, I saw it being closed too!! What a pain! Anyhow, since I was close to the Starbucks I thought I would grab hot chocolate and walk towards the bus stop (I had realized that somehow 99 was either not running or was being diverted through some other route because the road from University Blvd to Blanca was bad). I reached Starbucks, only to find it closed! “Give me my damn coffee!!!” – I shouted to myself. Anyhow, with no luck, I went to the Hospital stand and took a 49 (later, in the hindsight, I felt that taking 49 was a wrong decision, I could have taken 99 if I had waited long enough) and got off at Arbutus. From there, I took 16 and got down at Broadway. Weather was better there. So, somewhat encouraged I took a 9 and got off at McDonalds. I did some shopping at Safeway and again this time taking a 99 came to Sasamat where I had my lunch finally – but not without pains. There was such a big rush there that I had to wait for 10 minutes for a table (I guess everyone realised that eating out at home would be difficult with no power)! When I came out of the restaurant, it was still snowing and this time it was windy too. What a day – I said. This entire ordeal allowed me to see the city a little better on this snow pegged day. I realized many people were actually over shopping (very crowded Safeway lines) and were probably in panic due to the power outage. I heard that BC Hydro could not give any hope as to when the power would be restored and vaguely indicted something like tomorrow afternoon! I bought some breads and dry food in case I am unable to cook tonight and took a 99 again back to UBC.
As I was walking towards my apartment, I realized that the power was back already (unfortunately Starbucks was still closed L), so life was getting back to normal. It was getting dark too quickly and cold was biting its bitter teeth on my face and exposed areas, so without delay, I grabbed my stuff from the lab (security access was still malfunctioning at the reboot café entrance, so I had to take the other one along the road), turned my machine on (so that I could so the stupid ssh from home) and came back.
In brief, what a day!
Some photos I took are here: http://anirban.myphotoalbum.com/view_album.php?set_albumName=album32

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