from my older sister living in sri lanki: perspective
"Well, the mental picture you paint is all I need to hear - I'm glad your moving to a less stinky area :) The situation here is crazy. Remember how it was after 9/11? Everyone was flying flags, hugging the ones they love, being kind to strangers: that's the thing about tradgedies. People are touched by the realization of how short life is and how much love we feel towards each other. On this island you see men holding hands, girls walking arm in arm, children who leave their parents house only after their married and that's usually not until their 30's. It's like Mexican families - gramma, uncle and cousin are all immediate family members and usually reside within the same domocile. But these things aren't new here. They didn't start happening after the tsunami - it's always been like that here. Tragedy has always been at their doorsteps, walking their streets, lurking in their neighbors house. This country was already taking each day and cherishing it. These people already openly loved one another and were kind to strangers.
Some days here in the city it seems like nothing has changed. The destruction was to the south and north of Colombo but, miraculously, missed the 30 km of coastline of the city. The other day I was at the health club where we work out. It's actually a Hilton Resdience Hotel and it's where Brett lived from March until August when we moved into the house we're in. A man was wondering around the bar, talking to people. One of the waiters told us the man lost his wife in the tsunami. In my mind I wondered, why he was still here. Why doesn't he leave? Does he want to stay? Is he unable to find the magical 'closure' that's suppose to begin the healing? Or, like Brett, does he work here in Sri Lanka and lived in this Hotel with his wife, his wife who is now gone.
Other days you hear the impossible. A bus swept off the coast of Sri Lanka washed up on one of the islands of the Maldives. Another story of a girl in a hospital, around 7 or 8 years of age. She doesn't remember her name, who she was here with, she has complete amnesia. No one has called looking for her. Then you hear about miracles. People who left just one day early from vacationing, a couple driving along the coast who decided to go and look at a waterfall in the mountains and when they returned everthing was gone including the road they'd been on; a small factory that faced the ocean moved a mile inland just two weeks before the tsunami hit.
The city hasn't changed, the people really haven't changed much either there's just a new word in their language now - tsunami. It's the story's that have changed and its the foriegners arriving in the airport who have come to help the people who live here. And the ex-pats. I was grateful before this disaster to the people living here and the kindness they showed but now there is a gentleness in my gratitude. And there's something else I feel too, but I can't describe it. The word appreciative is probably closest to how I feel but it doesn't quite fit the feeling. I guess that's something I'll have to think on.
Hope that helps paint a picture for you of what I am seeing here. No major physical damage where I am but emotional trauma.
Love ya bunches - give Michelle a hug for me then have her hug you for me :)