At 6.00 am this morning my alarm went off on my mobile phone. I hit snooze three times and was in a peaceful little snooze world curled up under my bed covers.
Then at 6.30 am I was thrown out of my bed, heart beating very fast and a loud ringing in my ears. Panic hit as I realized the noise that had scared me was the fire alarm in my building. It was the first time in two years that I had ever heard it.
I quickly threw on my clothes, closed all my windows and grabbed the following
I forgot my phone in my room, which in a future possible inferno situation I should remember to bring with me. I am also still puzzled that my camera was a possession that I felt I could not live without.
I opened my door and the entire corridor was filled with water and the alarm bell was even louder. The water was dripping from the firehose in my corridor, it seems they switch on automatically when the alarm goes off.
I got to the stairwell and began my journey downwards from the tenth floor, water dripping down the stairs like a weak waterfall. I was on the street outside my flat in less than four minutes from the moment the alarm sounded. Soon the other 3 western people who live in my building joined me and we walked around looking for smoke.
We spotted no smoke. No other people exited my building.
After 15 minutes I decided that clearly the alarm was false because no Chinese people in my building had joined us outside. I ventured back upstairs to my floor and knocked on my neighbours door.
My neighbour is Chinese, but speaks good English. He opened the door and I shouted over the alarm.
"Is this a false alarm?"
"I'm not sure" he replied
"Has there been a sign written in Chinese saying they were testing the alarms"?
"I don' t think so" he replied
"Are you concerned there could be a fire"?
"No, I do not smell any smoke".
I'm not kidding, not one Chinese person in the building was even slightly concerned by the fire alarm. I arrived in my office this morning and asked my Chinese boss if Chinese people are secretly immune to fire. She said they were not, and that I did the right thing by exiting the building so quickly.