New Zealand

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It was nostalgic revisiting Christchurch after four years. Snow graced the city also the day after I arrived. I remember treading through similar fields of white to walk to high school. The juxtaposition of what has changed and what has not — the place and the people, including myself — suddenly became a sore reminder of the passing of time.

From the kind comments it seems I may not have conveyed it well (haha), but when I wrote about this young guy with brain cancer it was, in part, a challenge to reflect on what I have been doing with my past years. Now back in Melbourne, I remember four years ago when I left Christchurch to not return I am sure I reiterated these proverbs in my heart.

But snow means some easy photos. Here are some of them, as well as some obligatory post-earthquake ones.

Here are some of the photos…

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When the world was ghastly shook with news of the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004 and the earthquake in Sichuan, China in 2008, I counted my blessing to be living in New Zealand, tucked away safely in a tidy corner of Earth’s colonisation.

Many other natural disasters continued to occur throughout the world, of course, and I later crossed the Tasman Sea to move to Australia just after the earthquake in Haiti hit in early 2010. It was then the anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires that licked up a huge part of Victoria the year before. People were recounting the horror stories over radio.

Then the major floods in Queensland happened only a thousand kilometres from where I was staying, followed by Cyclone Yasi sweeping the northern parts of the same state. This time I had actual friends and people whom I knew who were in the area. Cyclone Carlos followed shortly after to hit Darwin in the Northern Territory — and I have only just been to the place earlier in 2010! The photos in the news were scarily familiar — yet now barely recognisable with the flooding, fallen trees and flattened houses on places that I have just stood in not too long ago.

And then the earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, just yesterday, this time levelling the city area, catching all of us completely off-guard. My two brothers are there, and it was amazing to hear their first-hand experiences of the hospital blacking-out, being evacuated, and the general destruction of the city. It is unthinkable to imagine Christchurch without the century-old landmark buildings now — the day surely is history-changing.

I was flicking through my phone’s text messages when the earthquake happened, and the happy text messages only from a week ago of a friend finally finding a job in Christchurch, and of my brothers inviting me to play a game online together with them, suddenly seemed so distant and irrelevant now. Oh how things can change in a blink of an eye.

It is amazing too how these happenings seem to be getting scarily close both on Earth and in heart — in neighbouring states and in places I have grown up in. It is even more frightening, however, to think of how I can turn my eyes away from the news, walk along streets of Melbourne suburbs and immediately so easily get hypnotised by the calmness here.

I can’t help but to think it is not evitable that a disaster will strike my location one of these days. It almost feels like a guilty conscience! When and how would that be? Would I have a family of my own at that time? Who knows it will come when I least expect it.

It crossed my mind that if someone said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” again, would it make more sense now? It is a crazy time we live in these days, how far is this going to go?

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