“That was an earthquake,” I told my wife.
“That’s not possible.
‘They do now, either that or this house is falling down,” not an impossibility given the shoddy construction techniques that are commonplace in the Kingdom.
Assuming that people down South also felt the same quake- much stronger there than the measly 2.2 Richter rumble where I was- they should have been running for their lives… uphill. Because at that point there was still time to save oneself from the tsunami. No percussion wave can outrun the speed of sound, you see, but a fast jet can. I bet they will do just that next time, run for their lives.
By the time I turned on my TV an hour later it was too late. The wave had hit hard and the first reports were coming in. Phuket got blasted. Of course at that point even THEN there was still time for southern Indians to get out of harm’s way, since it would take several hours for a wave to travel that distance. Aceh on Sumatra in
Fresh flowers love fresh ashes, of course, and good things can come out of the worst disasters. One of these was the Laya Project by EarthSync, a production company based in
If these songs of six countries seem to evoke the Indian tradition over all others, there’s a reason for that, too. The Indian tradition pre-dates all other civilized and civilizing traditions in the region. Sanskrit is to the Thai language- and others- what Latin is to western languages. To this day the Indo-Malay ‘bahasas’ owe more of their vocabulary to ancient Sanskrit than they do to the Arabic of the Arabs to whom they owe their religion and cultural existence. But in spite of this common ancestral base, modern countries of the region are largely fragmented and even hostile to one another, religious fundamentals lost in the rush to fundamentalism, all in response to the overwhelming sweep of history.
And while the genetic roots of the region may be as diverse as East and West can be, the cultural nexus is similar, and these are the systems by which we operate. Both sides of the Indian ocean are a microcosm of this subconscious divide, Indo-Aryans on the sub-continent divided into Hindus and Muslims, Austro-Asians in the Southeast divided into Buddhists and Muslims, the result of historical and religious forces at work, social caste and godhead, one or many, face or faceless. When disaster strikes, many of these artificial divisions and unanswerable questions fade away. The Muslim scholars and the Buddhist priest chant together, and all parents are looking for their sons and daughters, and a return to a better life.
This is an area largely overlooked by
I’ve been to WOMADS and WOMEXES and music festivals all over the world, but nothing surpasses the night at the Sapa ‘love market’ in north Vietnam some fifteen years ago when I listened to two tribal Red Dzao lovers singing their hearts out- literally and antiphonally- getting the words and the rhythm just right… before the big plunge, before the tides of history make them forget. Speaking of tides, check out the Laya Project when you can, both film and music. It’ll do you good.