About two weeks ago during the much publicised lunar eclipse which we failed to see from Penang because of the cloud cover, I asked whether we would witness a natural disaster within hours of the eclipse.
I was rather relieved when nothing really significant happened around the neighbourhood of this South-East Asian region. We should never forget that we are living in close proximity to the countries around the earth's ring of fire.
However, we tend to forget that the two weeks before and after a lunar or solar eclipse can be equally critical too, if the earthquake theorists are to be believed.
It is at these two periods - at the full moon or the new moon - that the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon on the earth are still at the strongest because the three heavenly bodies remain more or less in syzygy although the linear alignment will be slightly out of whack.
So it did not exactly come as a big surprise to me that a huge earthquake of an 8.4 magnitude struck Indonesia on Wednesday around 7.10pm. It was just a day after the lunar new moon and two weeks after the lunar eclipse.
The earthquake off Sumatra's west coast affected Bengkulu which was a mere 80km away but it was felt in Singapore and further north in Kuala Lumpur and even parts of Penang. The earthquake also triggered a tsunami warning for Perlis, Kedah, Penang and northern Perak because it was feared that the displaced waves could travel north from the quake's epicentre and curve around Sumatra's northern tip and strike here, like in Dec 2004.
Nothing like that happened partly because we were further away from Bengkulu than from Banda Acheh. Still, there's nothing like a tsunami alert to keep us on our toes.
But one aftershock after another are continuing to rock Sumatra and affecting the region.
On Thursday morning at about 7.50am, my colleague Ted said he felt some slight tremors in the office at the Hotel Equatorial. People in Kuala Lumpur and downtown in George Town ran out from their buildings. This was a second quake of 7.9 magnitude. At 11.40am, a 7.0 magnitude aftershock; and at 5.50pm, a 6.3-magnitude aftershock.
Today, a 6.0-magnitude aftershock was recorded soon after midnight and at 2pm, another aftershock of 6.2 strength. All off the south-western coast of Sumatra.
We should be taking the tsunami warnings seriously but oddly enough, many people aren't. As this picture from The Star showed, it was as if they were not concerned with their own safety. Imagine ... on Wednesday night when tsunami warnings were flashed over radio and television, throngs of people actually crowded Gurney Drive despite pleadings from the Police to disperse and go to somewhere safe. The people were hoping to see the Big Wave coming in. See? There was even this chap with a camera in his hands - he's seated on the far left - all ready to snap the photo that would hopefully win him a million bucks. Were they disappointed? You bet. Were they irresponsible? You bet, too!
It's not only tsunamis and trembling buildings that we in Malaysia should be fearful of. In Ipoh and Batu Gajah, sinkholes have been appearing again and they are swallowing up residential houses. One even appeared in the car park of a hotel. Are they connected to the Sumatran earthquakes? Maybe, because in Jan 2005, there were also sinkholes in Perak following the Banda Acheh quake.
All these natural phenomena may lead us to believe that there may be some truth, after all, to connect earthquakes and syzygies. It's a theory that's bound to be more closely scrutnised now, more than ever.