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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Tsunami


This mural was on the wall of a seaside bar/restaurant near Galle. An odd choice I thought.

I didn't take many pictures of the devastated areas. For one thing most of it has been pretty well cleaned up. Sure there were concrete slabs where once a house stood. And a few buildings obviously damaged by the giant wave. Lots of rebuilt areas. Many signs indicating assistance from countries around the world.

And the cemetaries.

There weren't all that many cemetaries. So many of the bodies were simply washed out to sea. As we were passing one small plot while onboard a bus I noticed a small sculpture. A blue wave (looked like it was made of concrete)curling high with about five white hands reaching out of the water. We were past it so fast I couldn't get a picture. It was eerie, disturbing, thought-provoking, poignant and effective.

When we were changing buses in Galle I started to say something about it when one of the other volunteers said "Did you see that wave sculpture with the hands?" A third volunteer had seen it also. One said a Sri Lankan man sitting next to her had expressed distaste for it. She couldn't tell why he felt that way.

We had a discussion about the meaning of it. Would you want to be remembered more by the way you died than by the way you lived? I think sometimes it's not your call. The inspiration (the lost victims of the tsunami) for the sculpture has made a powerful statement on the manner of their deaths that may have far overshadowed the lives they lived.

A different take. A few evenings earlier I was relaxing at the Peacock Bar in Unawatuna, a beach side party area. I was on my third iced coffee and, was "uncharacteristically" (Yeah, I know) talkative. The owner had come over and was sitting at our table. It was the night I saw the Southern Cross. The subject rolled around to the tsunami. I figure that must happen alot with us foreign tourists. I asked him if anyone was lost at his place. He replied, rather matter-of-factly, that his mother and a cook were taken by the wave. I thought about that later and talked it over with the other volunteers. They felt it was due to his Buddhist believe that "Kharma is Kharma" that he was able to accept his mother's fate so "easily." (I'm sure it wasn't easy.) Maybe that shows some of the differences between the Eastern and Western ways of thought.

At any rate, as beautiful as the coasts and beaches were, I could never look at them without imagining what it must have been like when the water receded into the sea.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

not just in memorials in sri lanka -
the hands of fate reach out from the
unexpected waves of our lives and
reach for all of us - at all kinds of
intervals.

but your story captures the phenomenom
profoundly.

thanks for your stories.