Tuesday, 4 January 2005

it's all over now...

My holiday that is, rather than all the nasty things that have been going on over the festive period. Not content with all the bombs going off in the middle east, the indian ocean tsunami has cut its path over the area. Now I realise that most people, unless living on a very different planet, will know what has happened, so far be it from me to go over old news, bad though it is. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, the first day in the office but not the first day open for schools, as I will have to begin the quest to find how many of our teachers were caught up in the whole thing. As Thailand is only a little over 6 hours away and is both cheap to get to and cheap to stay, it is a very popular destination for expats in Japan and especially our teachers - I have been there myself, though not to Phuket and the southern islands. I know for a fact that at least two teachers were in Thailand over the christmas holidays - I pray that I'm right in remembering that one chap I spoke to really did say that he was going north for the first few days to see jungles and elephants before heading to Phuket to spend some time on a beach. That doesn't, of course, include anyone that might have been in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Maldives or Indonesia, which is a distinct possibility as well as again all are reasonably close and not too difficult to get to. The 7pm news on behind me has just mentioned a potential figure of 150,000 victims, a truly mind boggling number and that's just from the waves and destruction, heaven knows what the real toll will be after the diseases, pollution and poverty kick in. Seems to me that usually earthquakes themselves aren't actually all that lethal in themselves, it seems to be what follows that does the damage, like the tsunami last week and the fires after the 1923 Tokyo earthquake (ok, the idea doesn't apply to the 1995 Hanshin/Kobe earthquake, but there you go - but then again, there wasn't much in the way of 'aftermath' from the Chuetsu/Niigata earthquake earlier this year and the number of victims was comparatively small).

One of the more disagreeable things about the reactions to the tsunami was how quickly some sections started shouting "you're not sending enough" to various national governments even before the dust had settled, as it were. It would seem to me that that sort of comment, would be better made after at least a period or recovery and stock taking, not before the first aid planes have even left the runways. Now I realise that those at the centre of things want as much help as quickly as possible, and fair enough, but the comments I saw were made by people nowhere near the crisis and were made, it appeared, to score political points, which seems entirely inappropriate. Also interesting was the situation in Sri Lanka with the government and the Tamil Tigers. Immediately after the tsunami both parties refused to co-operate (unlike the situation in Aceh) and both accused the other of putting lives in danger and the papers seemed to sympathize with the govt. In today's paper it would appear that the highly hierarchical and militaristic nature of the Tigers and the area they control have in fact been extremely effective in dealing with the problems, leading to reduced but sufficient essentials for everybody, whilst those in govt controlled areas are suffering from the old problems of looting and corruption. Who knows, the tsunami might be a blessing in disguise for the Tiger's independence movement.

Of course finger pointing will start, or has started, mainly concerning why a tsunami early warning system wasn't in place and why govts, aware that a massive earthquake had occured and knowing tsunami were likely, didn't warn peopleto get away from the beaches. Good questions and some govts are going to have a hard time of it, I suspect. Hopefully Japan, with all its expertise in earthquake detection and the minimising to associated damage can be helpful in building the requisite systems that will make this less of a disaster if and when it happens again, though the feeling of closing the gate after the horses have bolted will surely persist.

On a personal note

Glad to say that baby things are all going well, though the guru, who thought 'morning sickness' was a thing of the past, seems to have rediscovered a knack for it and is feeling somewhat leer, the poor thing. Plenty of lying down and rest, says the doc, but that seems to make it worse - I don't know, I thought it was all meant to be a little easier than this...

Anyway yesterday we did our duty by going along to Suitengu shrine as reporrted that we would do a few weeks ago. The reason one goes here is to pray for a healthy and happy pregnancy and trouble free birth - fat chance on the first score so hopefully the birth will be ok. New year is a time when absolutely everyone in Japan visits a shrine or temple to pray for good luck in the coming 12 months, so we were expecting the crowds to be awful, but no need. When you go to Suitengu for a blessing, you get the personal treatment in that you go into the temple proper and kneel whilst the priest chap does his stuff. This, essentially, is shaking a big white paper/feather duster at you, then chanting something that, somewhere, includes the mother's name (I missed it) and other words that I assume are along the lines of "murmur murmur murmur hope everything goes smoothly murmur murmur murmur etc". The whole ceremony only lasted about 10 minutes but all the expectant mother's to be were happy (they do you in batches of 6, to save time (and murmur potential I daresay)), including the guru. And me, of course.

Oh yes...

...and got my GT4 at last - looks like studying's out of the window for a while, then.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Commenting is encouraged, just so I know that someone reads all this stuff