The ceiling started to fall.
On Monday, my co-workers and I were editing a television news piece at a rental studio in south Delhi. Because our company’s studio was still under construction, it meant going to a rental space nearby. After a long day, we were finally finished. We began transferring the piece onto a CD, when one of the studio’s employees entered the room, waving his hands frantically in the air and shouting some sort of command in Hindi.
Mehak, my co-worker turned to me. “Quickly, Aliyah…Let’s go!”
“Huh?” I said. “What’s going on?”
“The ceiling! The ceiling! I’ll explain to you once we’re outside the building,” she said.
I was convinced the ceiling was about to cave in. I quickly put on my shoes and gathered up all of my belongings, knowing it would be the last time I’d set foot inside this building. It was going to crash, 9/11 style, I told myself. Unlucky for us, the studio was on the 5th floor of the building—without an elevator.
Safely across the street, Mehak pointed to a truck full of policemen who started filing out of the vehicle. Out of breath and full of panic, I asked what was going on.
“The sealing act. They’re sealing up the building,” she said matter-of-factly.
Apparently, since last year, the police had taken action to close down commercial units in all residential areas. Our studio, illegally, had been jumping place to place to avoid climbing rent costs. But someone, probably a competitor, had tipped off the police.
After realizing the building was not going to collapse, I asked how we would finish our project.
“The studio will probably just open in another house tomorrow,” said a co-worker. Naturally.