German Tsunami Mission in Asia: My Experience and Memories

Thursday, 28 March 2013 0 comments
I couldn't imagine how a tremour underneath in the form of an earthquake by tectonic plate movements caused a massive disaster in the coastal areas of most of the Indian Ocean Rim countries.

Memories of the early morning travel from George Town, the capital of Penang Island of Malaysia to the Teluk Bahang, the northern coastal front of the island still come to mind with the different panoramas of the Strait of Malacca and the silently waving southern seas of Andaman-Nicobar Islands in the far distance.

Likewise the memories of my recent visit in association with a mission on disaster relief to the northern regions of Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Jaffna come to mind.

Dietmar Doring, Director of "Peace Village International", a German national with his country's young university students as volunteers, Jean Claude Ramige, a veteran German documentary filmmaker who visited and documented various issues ranging from the tribal' cultures to the worst war atrocities around the world and a few relief work volunteers from some local television channels made up the rest of the group.

When we arrived in Kilinochchi, twilight was turning into complete darkness everywhere.

A member of the Sea Tiger unit of the LTTE was all the way along with us by guiding us in the tsunami ravaged areas.

The LTTE member was telling us that they were discovering everyday the dead bodies of the tidal wave victims from a pond which was once a rain water catchment - source, but now a sea water overflowing area.

He said that the bodies were being burnt immediately after recovery and asked us to wait to witness that day's excavation.

The heavy devastation had not only shattered the coastal areas but also the planet earth itself by changing its orbital direction by the explosion it caused.

We had a chance to meet a Catholic priest who narrowly escaped from the tragedy near his totally perished church in coastal Mullaitivu.

His visit to a nearby church that fateful day saved him and left a spiritual leader alive, who could lead the remaining few who have lost their kith and kin and almost everything.

The flood ravaged ruins of the houses were scattered everywhere and I managed to get onto a piece of debris to have a wider view of the area.

Now I could see the far corner of the village "Kallapadu", a southern coastal hamlet of Mullaitivu which was totally devastated by the giant tidal waves.

My inner-eyes started to visualize in a distance spectrum gradually and now I could experience the tragedies of the coastal hamlets "Semmalai" and "Alampil", which were almost sunk underneath, where a few years ago, during my tenure as an officer in CARE International in the war - torn periods of the northern region, I visited extensively and was amazed by the hospitality of those village folk, but now everything has perished.

Still I could hear those melodies of a cinema song which was aired over a radio while I was resting under the shade of a flock of densely grown coconut trees.

Oh! What an illusive world, now everything has changed and everything has disappeared. When I turned my attention from the solid ruined wreckage where I was standing towards the distant northern horizon, the devastation of the coastal villages Manarkadu, Nagarkovil and Chempianpattu were coming to mind.

All were destroyed leaving a few to witness to the horrific tidal waves to the forthcoming generations.

Our next destination, the Mulliavallai hospital which is located nearly fifteen kilometers away from Mullaitivu towards the jungle interior, is telling many stories of the events immediately after the tidal wave disaster.

The hospital, which was originally for maternity purposes has now turned to caring for the injured people from the tidal waves. It is struggling with a General Practitioner who is assisted by a retired medical practitioner and a junior medical officer from a different hospital, while their medical service requirement is to be provided by at least twenty medical officers when compared with a standard developed country which has a healthy medical history.

The German volunteers were busily unloading the medical equipment from one of the medium - sized lorries out of the six-vehicle convoy which was moving always together.

These volunteers who came to Sri Lanka as part of their student exchange program to complete their internship are from various universities in different fields in the streams of Economics, Business Administration, Sociology and so on. They were very active in their humanitarian task which they chose voluntarily.

The German TV personnel were busy documenting the experiences of those young European adventurers who were volunteering in Asia by risking their lives to the epidemics which are always associated with tragic devastation and other jungle borne diseases, dengue and the malaria. Friederike Wagner, a second year student of a leading German university was relating her experiences a couple of hours ago.

The satellite transmission of that documentary would reach millions of Germans in a few hours and certainly make them heroes and heroines in their motherland.

While we were passing the bridge which links Mullaitivu to the mainland, speedily hurrying black - cranes from the sea to the land frightened me, making me wonder whether there were new tidal waves on their way.

A couple of hours earlier we were told when we were passing that bridge towards Mullaitivu, how the tidal waves washed away the vehicles and the passengers who passed-by.

by Rajkumar Kanagasingam

Remembering Veterans Day in Europe

Thursday, 21 March 2013 0 comments
One of the benefits of being in Europe during November is the option of witnessing a Veterans Day ceremony at a number of different memorial sites. Somber, respectful, and eerily silent, these occasions provide a moment to pause and remember those that willingly endured the hellish environment of war, many of whom paid the ultimate price.

Beautifully manicured and decorated with American flags, the memorials stand tall and proud as those they honor once did. The cemeteries rest in perfect rows where the meticulously groomed brave lay in formation, in death as they were in life. To visit profoundly reminds us that although so many were cut down in the prime of their lives and left behind those that loved them deeply, they believed the adage that 'freedom is not free' and rose to the world's call for help. These brave men and women instead chose to resist the terrorists of their time and fought for what they felt was right while knowing they might not make it back alive.

Europe holds a number of possibilities for Veterans Day 2006, whether in France, England, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, or The Netherlands. The American Battle Monuments Commission ( provides a myriad of information on the memorial sites themselves as well as planned services on the holiday. It also offers a search option for locating family members and friends buried on these sacred grounds.

This year, remember Veterans Day the way it's supposed to be remembered. War has been a difficult part of almost every generation's legacy - from the earliest battles in our country's history to those souls recently joining their deceased brethren of war from the scorching Middle East, to those enduring veterans still with us today - and they don't deserve to be forgotten.

Author/Photographer Vicki Landes features the Luxembourg Military Cemetery in her book, "Europe for the Senses - A Photographic Journal". Find out more at

by Vicki Landes

German Memories in Asia: Tsunami Memories

Thursday, 14 March 2013 0 comments
I was a little paralysed over the phenomena, which had suddenly developed in the region by the tsunami tidal waves.

But I took firm hold of my mind and started to speak to people as to what we could do for those who had been affected. I started to phone all my friends who are in influential positions and one was Karu Jayasuriya, a former minister of the Sri Lankan Government for Power & Energy and the Deputy Leader of the main Opposition United National Party. I knew him since he was the Mayor of Colombo.

I asked him for urgent help for the Mullaitivu area where at least 4000 - 5000 people had died. I had visited that area a number of times when I was an officer at CARE International in the war-torn period. Mr. Jayasuriya said Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena, a former Minister for Refugees and Resettlement was coordinating the Party's Northern relief mission.

When I contacted Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene, he showed a great interest and told me there was a German NGO unloading plane load of goods and medicines from Germany to distribute among the tsunami affected people. He told he was planning to visit to North and asked me to coordinate with the Northern Relief Mission.

As the Mullaitivu region was under LTTE control, I spoke to Thaya Master, the LTTE media spokesman and a member of the LTTE's Peace Secretariat. The Peace Secretariat was formed after the Ceasefire Agreement was signed by then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the LTTE's leader Vellupillai Prabakaran. I finalized with him the arrangements for our visit which would take place in a couple of days time regarding the accommodation for visiting German team.

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene asked me to visit where the plane-bound cargo containers were being sorted for various tsunami-affected areas in different shipments. When I visited there I was surprised, there were no labourers, only the German intern students were sorting out and packing goods and medicines.

The following morning we were bound on our northern mission, which recalled my days in the CARE International nearly a decade ago as an officer in the UNHCR funded micro projects to assist locally displaced people by the on-going war.

It was so hard to accept an offer to work in a war-torn area leaving my career at a consulting firm, which was headed by Dr. C. Perumal Pillai, a retired Senior Official at the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization. There were many things I gained at Dr. Pillai's consulting firm. While on my fund-raising missions, I met the CEO of Colombo-based Deutsch Bank. He invited me very cordially for a discussion and that was my second encounter with Germans. I explained to him the mission of the NGO, an affiliate of the consultancy firm and its various activities. After he listened to the facts he offered a substantial amount as donation within a few minutes of our meeting.

My first experience with German generosity and kindness nearly a decade ago has gone a long way and when I joined with the German relief mission it once again evoked memories in me. As I traveled with Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena, he introduced me to the German team in Dambulla, a sleepy town in the central part of the Island. The first meeting itself helped me a lot to make friendlier encounter with many of the students. I couldn't meet them the previous day, as they were busy unloading and sorting out goods. I met Dietmar Doring, the founder Director of the Asian - German Sports Exchange Program (AGSEP) which was responsible for the shipment of the plane load of goods and medicines from Germany. I spoke to Ramige, a veteran German documentary filmmaker and his team. We have reassessed our plans once again and moved towards the Northern frontiers.

Our six-vehicle convoy was moving in the Alpha-9 highway, which was famous when the military operation was in full swing some years ago. While I was traveling with the German Praktikum (Internship) students, I was wondering again as to what motivated these young students to serve the affected masses in far away destinations in Asia. The same question assailed my mind a decade ago when I met Maura Barry, then Area Director for Kilinochchi for the CARE International at the first interview at the Colombo head office.

I asked her what made her to leave New York, the world's busiest and technology savvy city to Sri Lanka and especially to Kilinochchi, a war-torn area and the Administrative capital of the LTTE, which was so vulnerable to any aerial attacks.

Her answer was more to analyse than to accept the human instinct to help other wherever they were from.

by Rajkumar Kanagasingam

Carribean Travel Magazine Information

Thursday, 7 March 2013 0 comments
The Caribbean. Ask anyone and youll find that the word is nearly synonymous with fun and relaxation. Thats pretty obvious. When you want to travel, those are the only things you want to experience. And what better way to have the ultimate experience on fun and relaxation than to know more about the place you're visiting? This is where Caribbean travel magazines come in.

From the mundane to the spectacular, from the humdrum to out-of-this-world spectacles: these are what Caribbean travel magazines have in store for you. For all the necessary information and minor details about how life is like in the Caribbean and some travel tips and vacation ideas, pick one of these babies from any newsstand and magazine store at the airport and learn about your ultimate vacation destination.

Below is a list of our top picks of Caribbean travel magazines. Take time to browse through these Caribbean travel magazines and when you're done, see if you can't be as knowledgeable about the famous islands as any local tour guide.

Port Hole Cruise Magazine
If your Caribbean travel is all about cruisin and cruises, then the Port Hole Cruise Magazine might just serve as your ultimate resource guide. Whether you are a first-time cruiser or a veteran sailor of the high seas, you will certainly want a copy of this Caribbean travel magazine for tips on who, what, when, where, and how to go on a dream Caribbean cruise.

Entice your senses. Trigger the explorer in you. Let the pages of this magazine answer all your cruising questions. The Magazine comes out twice a month, setting a non-stop course to become the cruise vacation source.

Caribbean Travel & Life
For the beach bum at heart, the Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine presents the perfect opportunity on how to bum it all out in the islands. This Caribbean travel magazine offers hotel and resort reservations, travel specials, free travel info, marketplace (rental property listing and classified ads), and contests everything you could ever want.

Simply visit this Caribbean travel magazine's site at and fill up the form provided to get a free complimentary issue. Every issue of this magazine is devoted to exploring the Caribbean islands, one of the most fascinating regions on the planet.

Caribbean World
As the first Award Winning quarterly Lifestyle & Caribbean Travel Magazine in the World, the Caribbean World features its best section yet, called the Island Focus where the ingenious writers of magazine focus on one out of many enchanting islands in the Caribbean and tell you all about its nitty little details from local legends to fabulous attractions. Other sections of this Caribbean travel magazine are hot gossip, fashion, food, sports, and weddings.

by John Pawlett

2010 Memorial Day Weekend Events

Memorial Day 2010 beckons and what better way to show your patriotic spirit than to be a spectator or participant at one of the many fun-filled events slated to take place over Memorial Day weekend, which runs from Friday, May 28 through Memorial Day on Monday, May 31. A host of parades, fairs and other events are in the offing, all of which are free of charge. Adding further relief for your pocketbook are scores of Memorial Day Weekend hotel deals [], some offering room rates up to 60% off. Read on for a sampling of key events in major cities.

1. New York City - Fleet Week

Memorial Day weekend has ushers in Fleet Week in New York City, which was made an annual tradition in 1984 to honor the U.S. and Marine Corps. Fleet week comprises everything from military demonstrations and tug of war competitions to ship tours and lectures. All events with exception to those held at the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum are free.

2. Washington D.C. - National Memorial Day Parade

No city says patriotism like our nation's capital, and this flag-waving D.C. event on Monday, May 31 at 2:00 p.m. makes a great place to spread it. Sponsored by the World War II Veterans Committee, it honors and remembers those who have sacrificed their lives to serve our country. The National Memorial Day Parade begins at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 7th Street and makes its way along Constitution Avenue, past the White House, before ending at 17th Street. The parade includes marching bands, active duty and retired military units, youth groups, and patriotic floats.

3. Chicago - Downtown Chicago Memorial Day Parade

If your Memorial Day weekend plans include the Windy City, you'll want to be a spectator at the downtown Chicago Memorial Day Parade, which is regarded as one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation. Scheduled for Saturday, May 29, the parade will step off at noon and proceed south on State Street from Wacker Drive to Van Buren Street. Made an annual tradition by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1997, the event is preceded by a Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame Memorial on Daley Plaza.

4. Los Angeles - Annual Memorial Day Weekend Street Fair
Held on Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend from noon through 10 p.m., this Los Angeles fair closes off the streets at Wilshire and Alvarado to accommodate scads of carnival games and rides, live music performances, arts and crafts, health screening booths and merchandise stands. On average, the event draws more than 30,000 fair goers each year.

5. San Francisco - 2010 San Francisco Carnaval Festival and Parade

Coupling sizzling live entertainment and beautiful arts and crafts with scrumptious food, the multi-cultural San Francisco Carnaval Festival showcases the best of Latin American and Caribbean cultures. Spanning seven blocks, the San Francisco Carnaval Festival will take place on Harrison Street between 16th and 23rd streets from Saturday, May 29 through Sunday, May 30 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days). Moreover, California's largest multi-cultural celebration includes the popular Carnaval Grand Parade, which begins Sunday, May 30 at 9:30 a.m. at Bryant & 24th Streets before proceeding down Mission Street to 17th Street.

by Jeff Martinez

City miscellaneous memories

Friday, 1 March 2013 0 comments
Say Beijing is the capital, people from all over the world, every day millions, but the floating population is also true no son well past, except for that few parks and the palace beyond, or the shops.Now more retail business developed, malls, distribution and wide, poured distracted.If only this was put in sixty or in the 1970s, the crowd concentrated in a few places, wangfujing, xidan and front door.

Due to the front door, nonlocal guest on the subway, mostly of many, can converse in front of the old number there, such as six or locals will dwell pickles garden.Xidan and wangfujing is a native of first choice, but the flow of total ratio wangfujing xidan slightly less, the key or the people of the local field wangfujing street is the focus to homes.Of wangfujing department store and dongfeng market is people must go.My impression the department store building, not to where things have much good, but where the stairs let me unforgettable.

The department store, the stair have several forms of main staircase is folding trans, intermediate come first segment on both sides, and the width of shunt, on both sides of the stairs narrow, side, another side, the wall under significant tag, big word clearly write: upstairs and downstairs, but we never see people to obey.The basic principle is that which side one relatively few some went up, no matter which side.Upstairs when still good, anyway you'll notice a bit, don't step in the front man's shoes, and follow them.Action is basically like no physical person upstairs in step, that more than three seconds, can't stop, poured too slow.Downstairs is careful, for several reasons.The first is YanYun.Stood looking down stairs, a group of skull against the rock, have black hair, white hair, black and white hair, no hair, there are generations of the hat, upstairs downstairs, flap about up there in the big elephant have only holding in this group of people shaking.Second, the stairs, the material is slippery, use material was smooth, terrazzo, plus people, each steps constantly cadence all the edge of collapse down the ground round one, plus when pop plastic glasses shoes, can easily slips.Years of use without replacement, stairs was trodden obvious dent, a right and left, two ways.People walk in it easily fall down.The 3rd, want to prevent behind someone slips, heart to have a wary of, or falling down is a at one time.

Each floor sell different things, different counter have different people.Selling cloth counter, usually around women forever caravans son, muttered softly.I have to now also don't understand, is not a cloth, it can study well more than half an hour, came to also do not buy.As for electrical counter, but senior things namely record players and transistor radio, around people are male, see, the people who buy less, mainly in there of having the fierce kan namely advocate.On the third floor of a corner has a toilet, and sell the place together eat, drink, sell namely actually ping2 shuo wear an ice-sucker and soda, but person always big.Men still good, access to speed a line still, vice versa rotation speed will slowly, each accepted number limited.Around the corner is waving toilets and ping2 shuo wear an ice-sucker soda conflated flavor.

In big hospital heard the story of a popular in the 1960s, says there is a big hospital overseas Chinese from man, a field just off the train on dusty field bag and ran to the department store, the purpose is to buy pieces just starr entrance watch.But to a counter etc. Along while also nobody reason, this would be a little nasty, his voice can't help high up, the results of a young salesgirl came up and took the body of Saul his eyes say: you so still buy table shout?You can afford?The a listen to fire up, hand at a refers to that girl say: were you able to afford even!The girl also, by hand a unequivocal that the most expensive imports means watch and said: yes!Can you afford this list, I also will sell you!This dude pa to turn over the broken bag, take out the money on the counter a clap associate said: ok, you go with me!Salesgirl make a big stolid, results or several veterans come at the appointed time. Open countDidn't expect the folk unwilling, no two days back again, but this time is to buy a pair of watch, the gentlemancarries the veterans group he sent to the salesgirl.Later I heard that somebody else two people became family.

And after a few years, a former department store ZhangBingGui, allegedly selling candy counter people queuing, among them many before to see who is ZhangBingGui, see his delight prospective head.And after some years, has revolutionized department store also on the fourth floor open a bar form of cold drinks seat, lighting the dark some, gin also place some, waitress also wear good-looking some, of course the price also high for some.That was after fashionable person go somewhere.Then I left the city, the department store is slowly no longer remember.

Until the early 1990s don't remind us to the department store.In order to see the scenery is still department store in, he purposely ran to wangfujing went for a ring.Toll is evident in the past, but not the thing that sells a lot more than once it, even the past invisible maotai was on the frame, with various still put BangBianEr maotai gin.But there's one kind things haven't changed, that between the buyers and sellers of the glass counter.I grilled the counter squinted at those labels son on the offers.Watching will hear BangBianEr emitted a nonlocal mouth YinEr: comrade, I see that a fork a circle of gin.I turn head to see a middle-aged man, wearing a very ordinary, shoes dusty and hand carry a big WangDou, some like playing with the school team when the ball pocket, filled with many things, the most conspicuous son is a few marlboro cigarettes.Waitress came up and left the eye say: you valued ah, this is not 28 block a bottle of, is 2800.Then turned to asked me what I wanted, I said don't what, see.Then the BangBianEr and yelled: ah, 2800 bottle son.Say that finish they bowed and pulls out a dozen ticket on the counter said: that's right, affirmation is this. Nana let to two bottles.
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by AndrewJames