Topic: Asia

As we all know by now, the ferocious tsunami that struck Asia and Africa on 26 December is one of the most devastating natural disasters in history. The United Nations, of course, is playing a major role in coordinating the relief efforts.

The disaster struck a number of places Jenny and I traveled in India, including Chennai (Madras), Mahabalipuram, and the former French colony of Pondicherry. (On our living room wall is a Pondy silk scarf, and in our cabinet of curiosities is a statue of the goddess Laxmi from Mahabalipuram.) This brings home the tragedy to me personally, both because I’ve met and interacted with the locals and seen the places that are now devastated, and because the tourists who were hurt and killed were people just like me and the people I socialized with.

Austin’s Blog has a collection of videos of the tsunami, which are not for the faint of heart.

And finally, The New York Times ran an op-ed piece a couple of days ago discussing previous tsunamis and similar natural disasters, and warning that the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, will one of these days collapse into the sea, launching a tsunami that will hit the east coast of the United States with a wall of water taller than any skyscraper. We would have eight hours or so to evacuate, and we’d need to get pretty far inland to be safe.

I suppose this is all a reminder that nature is very big, we are very small, our lives are very short, and the only thing we can be sure of is that we will eventually die. So enjoy the present moment, because it’s all there is.

Happy new year.