Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Thoughts from Dehiwala

So there I was again. After only a few months, I was back in Colombo. With all those black birds. And the wide, restless Indian Ocean stretching to the horizon. Good thing that I wasn't too involved this time with the logistical preparations for the meetings and the consultations. This time, I was a real participant. So I had time to absorb the scenery, pin down some of those fleeting thoughts, and take pictures. On the first day, after some discussions on the draft proposal for our post-tsunami project, our host took us to the local YMCA headquarters in Dehiwala. The YMCA coordinator, who is a friend of my boss, took us to the coast to interview some of the fisherfolks and urban dwellers about their experiences during the tsunami. Along the way, we had to pass through these blighted houses and cross the railway tracks.

All the time, I was wondering why they have to build those tracks near the coast. I could still recall the overturned carriage in Peraliya, and the stories about what happened to all those people who sought refuge in it. Couldn't help thinking what would happen if another tsunami struck and hit a passing train full of people. This fellow living near the tracks kept on inviting us to come to his yard. He was complaining about a nearby pool of stagnant water formed by the tsunami. It appeared that everytime it rains the water level rises and floods his living room. And it seemed he was expecting some kind of assistance from our group. So we asked him what he planned to do about his problem. He didn't have an answer.

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