Perimeter Observations

 

Today we were out for a long walk around the perimeter of the cordoned-off red zone in central Christchurch. In the red area, most of the buildings are in various stages of demolitions, including all but one of the city’s high-rises. Nestled inside the zone are a number of buildings in the process of being repaired and restored, so it is not a total loss. Passing by, you witness concurrent destruction and construction, a transformation of a city reminiscent of the science fiction film Dark City, in which a city is reconfigured every night by its alien masters in order to test various effects on their human subjects. We randomly encountered a very interesting man, an American by way of Sri Lanka who is now a resident here working for the city government.  He was full of fascinating insights which he readily shared, about the people and the living here. Examples of his conversation include the high quality and nearly free education, including university, the total lack of corruption in government (a mixed blessing – there is so much transparency and process it’s nearly impossible to get anything done!), the extreme politeness of the populace (which on the other hand masks any deeper convictions or prejudices that do exist but are never mentioned), the seeming lack of true passion for anything outside of rugby and how you must never say anything about that, the tendency of New Zealand men to marry Americans or Asian women, the ease of immigration and a recent influx of Eastern Europeans among others, the politics of Antarctic land grabs reminiscent of the Cold War (pun intended), how the police work regular business hours. The man could talk but we enjoyed him very much. He talked about how it is common for people here to strike up random conversations with strangers, as he did with us – we are looking forward to more similar encounters in the future

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