Life after the Tsunami (part III)
Sorry to keep harking on about it, but it's not the kind of thing you can get out of your head that easily, even with 10 bottles of Heineken. We had a bit of a party at our house last night, and I was talking to some people I'd not seen in a while, and naturally the tsunami came up in conversation. Where were you on December 26th 2004?
I still feel a kind of odd guilt that neither I nor my family nor any of our friends suffered at all. I lost nothing, lost nobody, carried on working, we had a baby boy 2 weeks later (I think having a baby puts a lot of things into perspective). It is amazing to be so close to disaster and yet not be involved. Had I been young, single and free I would have gone and volunteered as a diver. A friend of mine helped fish bodies out of the water. But I had a 9 month pregnant wife to look after and work to do. At the dive shop we became inundated with emails and phone calls asking about the latest situation. I talked to Sky News, talked to the BBC, wrote emails, updated information on our web site, tried to make sense of things. At the same time, we lost business, but many divers who were already booked did come and dive, even just a week after the tsunami. Many called ahead to check on the conditions, being rather scared based on what they saw on CNN. I gave honest advise and many thanked me afterwards for not bullshitting them. In that way, I guess I did something to help.
We got some new neighbours recently, an American family with 2 kids of similar age to ours. They come to our house to play sometimes. I only met David (dad) for the first time last night, as he works in Khao Lak, long hours, and quite a drive - it takes a good 90 minutes to get there from here. David is the local director of a charity foundation called 4Kali, set up by the Breisch family who lost their daughter (Kali) when the tsunami hit Khao Lak.
It was a long time ago, but also very recent. In Phuket now you can't tell anything happened. Patong beach looks better than before, Karon too. It's emotional scars that take longer to heal, even when you've lost nothing.
• Updated 2008 - New page I wrote 4 years after the tsunami