Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Christchurch Earthquake

I've been holding off writing this post. The reason being is that I haven't quite worked out my own feelings about it.

The reason is that I lived in Christchurch for around 8 months. Yep. Not a long time. But I loved the city. I didn't always love the people. There was the incident with skin heads that left me with a sore jaw for a while which left me not leaving the flat for quite a while. And then I had returned 5 years later, only to find that I didn't actually like many of the friends I had down there.

One had met me at her door, not invited me in, and then asked if I was gay.

Another one had taken me out to an Indian restaurant. Something she wouldn't normally do but given that I'm Indian...

There was one who was exactly the same as when I knew her 5 years earlier. So it wasn't all negative. She was the exception though.

It was enough for me not to miss the people entirely too much.

On Tuesday morning I was thinking of an old flatmate. We didn't really get along. She was 10 years older than me (though a fine figure of a woman). In order to get to tech on time in the morning, I'd have to get up several hours early as she spent a couple of hours in the bathroom every morning. So not ideal. Combine that with the fact that I was young and stupid and wasn't exactly a joy to live with and you've got a bit of a bummer of a living arrangement.

So I'm watching scenes of Christchurch on the news to see places I used to walk. Places I have been. Scenes I remember but which look quite different. I've heard that Charlie B's - the backpackers I stayed at for 4 weeks - is now gone. I haven't heard how much damage Le Cafe has suffered - where we'd go for coffee at midnight. The horribly elegant looking restaurant next to the Avon river which I'd walk past is no longer standing.

So I have some personal feelings towards it.

This hasn't stopped me from making the odd insensitive comment. I can't believe the residents of Christchurch hadn't moved away after months of aftershocks for example. Or the fact that they were actually kind of better off having the less destructive earthquake 5/6 months earlier - the media got all of their mistakes out and people were probably just a touch more prepared.

But quite often I don't really know how much of an effect something has had on me until a few days later. I'm exhausted. It's not just the 2 all nighters I did this week. I'm just not sleeping well. Those people who I found to be ... unpleasant the last time I was in Christchurch still have me worried.

Am I going to recognise a name on the dead list? Nicki and Ian and Miriam and Chris and Jane and Donald and Fiona and Graham etc. Last I had heard Nick had moved to Fiji though that was more than 5 years ago. Angela was married with a child. And I can't for the life of me remember surnames. Do they even have the same surnames?

So today I spent much of the day trying to volunteer in the Christchurch effort. The site,, has been playing an interesting role. However I found barrier after barrier and found myself feeling fairly negative about it by the end. How much is the effort actually helping?

Loads of us probably have a connection in some way or another with Christchurch. I always laugh when I see something happen in America and it seems to have affected everyone. People crying outright who didn't know a single person affected. I'm not effected that much. I might spare a tear if I recognise a name on the dead list.

The news has been fairly good around this. There are a few things I found to be frustrating.

When ever they show scenes they don't give you context. They avoid street signs.

Channel 3 has also taken 3 shots of the same store - the souvenir shop at the corner of cathedral square - to show off the widespread looting or something.

The scrolling text is often written REALLY badly. Today TV3 are telling us that "93 red stickers have been issued so far in Christchurch, 90 in Lyttleton". Isn't that nice. They're giving out stickers...

Oh and they can't seem to get the terminology around the Art Gallery and the Arts Centre right. Whenever I hear "Arts Centre" my ears prick up. But no. They're talking about the horribly ugly monstrosity that is the Art Gallery.

So hey - the only thing to say here really is, we're thinking of those in Christchurch. Oh and if I knew you there, yell out. I'd love to hear if you're okay.

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