The Religion & Culture Web Forum


February 2005

"Notes From the Field: Retrieving the Dead"

by Kristin C. Bloomer
University of Chicago

In a slight departure from the Web Forum's normal format, this month Divinity School Ph.D. candidate Kristin Bloomer reflects on her experiences in southeastern India in the wake of the December 26th tsunami.

At 6:30 a.m. I was shaken awake. Christ is born. The room swayed. Was I really awake? Was it something I ate? I blinked, and walked to the balcony. Had I gone to the roof and stayed awhile, I would have seen the sea rise and erase the shore, scraping off the stretch of light brown sand I am used to seeing daily from my window – the swathe that divides my neighborhood from the uncivilized sea. I would have seen water enter the street next to mine. Instead, having decided it was an earthquake, I waited for the floor to stop moving, and went back to sleep.

In my neighborhood of Besant Nagar, as in others, pretty much anyone taking their early morning walk, or playing cricket, or jogging along the beach, or fishing for keep, or dipping in the ocean for the full moon or for Christmas (as is the custom here, in both Hindu and Christian popular religious culture), was swept away.

Read Kristin Bloomer's full essay.