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bricolage \bree-koh-LAHZH; brih-\, noun: -a dump site for anything at hand, in mind-

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

displaced in banda aceh

canine survivor - lhok nga
I am supposed to have written this back in January. But the world was not kind enough at that time *sigh*
I am finally done with my thesis. I dunno whether B+ is considered a grade or not after you flunked the seminar several times. anyways. I guess writing the whole thing in English seemed to help improving the grade. I guess. Again, as we are all aware, assumption kills. Therefore, I do not assume on anything. I believe that whatever I had written passed the examination board.

honda super cup survivor Soon after the thesis was done in mid January, I had to go up to Banda Aceh on a two weeks assignment. I thought I would be okay, since I know the both the city and the people very well. WRONG! The tsunami that shook the earthlings took a lot of things, not only material stuff but I guess the soul of Banda Aceh that I used to know.
I don't know, it's just only me. Others would probably think that Banda Aceh stays the same. But, what is the meaning of "the same" when 80% of the city was swept away by the gargantuan 20 meters tidal wave and 8.9 RS earthquake?

lampuuk coastal area after 20 meters of tidal waveBeing there around three weeks after the D-Day was totally weird since I've been making trips between Jakarta and Banda Aceh in the past five years. Having known the city before tsunami and after tsunami has somehow given me extra chills compared to most of my colleagues who have only stepped their feet in Banda Aceh after the disaster. I stared blankly at Pantai Cermin (Cermin Beach) in Ulee Lheu area that simply does not exist anymore. I remembered sipping warm ginger on a river side coffee shop, which of course no longer exist. Lhok Nga used to be a stretch of white sandy beach and tall palm trees. It has the freshest grilled carp fish. When I got there a couple of week after tsunami, I felt like I'm witnessing the desert of Jordan.

the dried herbs seller at aceh central marketI was in Banda Aceh in October 2004 and have done quite some souvenir shopping for friends. The market is no longer there. I took a picture of a dried herbs seller. The guy wanted me to send him the picture when I have it developed. I don't know what to do with the picture now.

Then I ended up in a so-called coordination meeting between international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and military institutions. It felt awfully weird to be in Regina Hotel-turned-into Oxfam office with 99.9% foreigners speaking in a dozen language. Not to mention Red Cross/Crescent vehicles of almost any major nation: the Turkish Red Crescent, Austrian Red Cross, German Red Cross, the International Red Cross. You can't tell whether the big, tall man or woman you bumped on the road is an Australian/German/American.

hundreds of choppers at SIM airportWhen I got off the additional Garuda flight at the usually empty Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport, I was amazed to see rows of choppers. Not to mention catching the real "Black Hawk" chopper on one afternoon.

I felt displaced.

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Photos courtesy of: Myself.

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