Third World Tragedy

It’s Tuesday afternoon, another glorious day in Sydney and there’s a bit to report from the last few days.

Although I didn’t do all that much on Boxing Day, Monday was reasonably busy. After watching news of the earthquake and tsunamis on television the night before, I went into work early yesterday, anticipating the need for fairly extensive coverage. Early in the morning I spoke with an old school friend, Jacki, who’d lived in Phuket for a number of years, asking her for advice about people to speak to. She told me she had no idea about the scale of the tragedy, putting her in a similar position to a lot of people, but possibly moreso since she still knew people there. Indeed, she and her husband were meeting his business partner who still lives in Phuket for lunch that day.

A day or so on and I can’t conceptualise the death of at least 24,000 people. Angrily, I watched Fox News this morning during which the presenter commented, on being told there had been limited attempts to inform the countries involved of the tsunami risk, “Well, they’ll listen next time, won’t they?” There was a really nasty streak running throughout the line of questioning throughout their coverage, with one question implying the Indian Government hadn’t told the people in the affected areas because they weren’t involved in high-tech industries. Just plain nasty. I’ve also been pretty disappointed with local stories along the lines of “could it happen here”. Just plain selfish.

At lunchtime, I caught up with Sue briefly at Central Station. She has been visiting her family back home on the North Coast and, before heading off to the Blue Mountains, had some time to kill. Although brief, we caught up on a lot of family and North Coast news, which was great.

After lunch, I wandered down to Circular Quay, weaving my way back through the Botanic Gardens to the Art Gallery of NSW. There was also an amazing large piece by (I think) George Tjungurrayi which consisted of a series of patterns which really “sang”, which I just sat down and watched for quite some time. I also really enjoyed a series of works by Brett Whiteley from the 1950s painted around the theme of homeless people at a Soup Kitchen. More “traditional” in style than his later, better known work, I found them really interesting to see on a number of levels. On the one hand, it made me consider the long-term problem of homelessness in Sydney and on another, it made me think of the ongoing interest of artists in homelessness, questioning motives. Actually, speaking of Whiteley, the Whiteley Gallery is just around the corner from where I live and I noticed, walking past the other day, a Development Application which would make the gallery a more regular open public space. The most ridiculous artwork I saw, however, in my view, was a piece called Graters Untitled which consisted of a number of old cheese and vegetable graters, arranged in no particular order. Tell me if I missed the point?

Speaking of the good things in life… I’m enjoying my Christmas present to myself, an Espresso Machine. My first attempt at a flat white was pretty disastrous: it was not strong enough. My second attempt was better, though I didn’t do a very good job with the milk. But by my third attempt, I was pretty happy with both.

Wow… what a post… 24,000 dead, art and coffee machines. There’s something a bit twisted in all this.

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