Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bombs and Bad Spelling

So, I noticed, when I go back and read my blog (which of course, is all the time), that I misspell stuff all the time. I should have a spell checker on here and sometimes it works, sometimes it does not and I should be looking at the screen when I type and sometimes I do and sometimes I do not. Apologies for the bad spelling and words that on occasion do not make sense.

My sister called just a little while ago. My brother in law woke her up since he heard on the news about a bombing at a shopping place in Colombo and since that is all I do when I am there and since I was there last they checked, he got very worried. I am back in Ampara and the first bomb went off as we were leaving Colombo this morning and then we heard about the second one. Go read about it on BBC. There was four of us in the car, the driver, me, Mick and our project engineer. We all got texts about it from different people, we said, where is that place? Oh, right, near Apollo Hospital and then I went back to sleep and everyone else went back to doing whatever it is people in back seats of cars do.... The second text message some 9 hours later prompted the same sort of reaction (prompted is a strange word since I feel like we are more non reaction than reaction right now) and I asked Mick if he got the text, he said yes and then we watched an episode of the West Wing. An episode, I am shocked to report that I had not seen before and even more lovely, a Thanksgiving one! So timely, as thanksgiving is just about to arrive in Ampara (Saturday).

I guess it's not good what is going on. I guess I just expected it. I have YET to read the text of Prabhakaran's speech or hear any commentary on it (our TV is dead and last night when I had TV, it was all about Anapolis and Gaza...which is looking pretty bad), but a synopsis that was given to me by staff was, peace not possible, dear international community help us get our freedom and support our cause. By killing thamilselvan, you killed peace and the 2002 agreement lands that were given to us have now been taken back and you are all giving the GoSL free weapons and we want some too. Thank you.

That sounds like a plausible jist of a fifteen minute speech to me. Is anyone really surprised?

My non reaction to everything is strange since I can feel something in the air but not quite sure what it is yet and I think I am just showing uncharacteristic restraint from leaping to conclusions and barracading my staff and hunkering down with a two week supply of dried goods. I also just got back after being away from five days and things in Ampara town feel a little fake to me, you know? Last Singhalese outpost in the area so it is just fortified and I really just got to the office, worked and then came home and the biggest crisis I was dealing with is staff from my old job freaking out since their contracts are over end of the year and this is going to become a reality in a big way here as NGOs start to leave since tsunami money is over and I don't know what else to say to them other than, I am going to go too and will need a job. We all got to prevail and keep our chins up and I will see what I can do. That has superseded any bombs in the other parts of the country for the moment for me, though I suspect, not for long...I need to actually get out and see what it is feeling like. What does it look like driving down the coast, what is the vibe in the villages in which I am working and what do people look like right now....what are their priorities, what is the food situation in their houses, how jumpy or not are they etc....they of course, always have a better feel about stuff than anyone else, living as it were, in the midst of things. I think I wrote about this sense before....or just having a mental list of things which we look at without realizing it when assessing a situation. I use it for poverty levels among other things when driving through or to a place and you can see for instance, how clean are school uniforms, is the child wearing shoes, how many school accessories (just a backpack, or a lunch box or flask etc), ribbons in hair, how many shops on the side of the road, how well stocked, how well lit, how populated etc etc etc....there are lots of little indicators that you just get through osmosis in a way.

So, I need to go out and get a feel and then either panic or stay non reactionary. Non reactionary but alert, I think is the way to go. I just got back from a security training course...I am so ready. As will everyone around me, like it or not.

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