This one arrived in my inbox at the library. I have no idea who wrote it. I’ve only made minor editorial corrections. It makes me think of the other recent blog of the touching letter from Sendai. There is no doubt that these traumas have positive outcomes as well as significant discomfort associated with them.

You know you’re in Christchurch when …

       The rest of the country offers you a place to stay

      “Munted” and “buggered” are official technical terms

      You go ‘pfffff’ when Wellington has a 4.5 earthquake that’s 40km deep

      You see a nice park in another city and think it would make a good evacuation point

      You sleep in one suburb, shower in another and collect water from yet another

      When you drive on the right side of the road and no one thinks it’s wrong

      You are happy two Policemen came for a visit

      When your bike becomes your best friend

      You think it’s fine for a soldier to be stationed at the end of your street

      You see armoured vehicles driving down the road

      It’s normal to greet people with “do you need a shower?”

Street with Toilets in Christchurch

A bucket of sh*t is no longer that old car you drive

      Every house is a crack house

      Instead of rushing to the clothes line to get clothes in when it rains, you put dirty washing on the line in the hope that it will rain enough to clean them

      Going to Wellington to escape earthquakes makes sense

      Your doctor recommends having a few stiff drinks before bed to help you sleep

      You know how to start and refuel a generator

      You have tied the pantry, liquor cabinet and all the cupboard doors closed and it’s not to keep kids out

      You prefer to sit under the table instead of at it

      You think electronics that have “shock proof” should say to which earthquake magnitude

      You know and actually understand the terms and conditions of your House and Contents insurance policies

      You can see irony in claims about houses made of “permanent materials”

      Your en-suite has a vege garden, dog kennel and grass

Liqufication in the Suburbs

Your teenagers are only too happy to sleep in the same room as their parents

      You stop using the term “built like a brick sh*t house”

      Dressing up to “head into town” means putting on a hi-viz vest, hard hat and boots

      Discussing toilet habits with total strangers is an everyday norm
      Wee boys don’t get excited when they see (another) digger or a dozer – but all the adults in the street cheer wildly

      Voluntarily staying in Timaru for five days seems like a good idea
      You know what that extra gear lever on your 4X4 is for

      Metservice includes a graph for dust

      You have dust mask tan lines

      You can use the term “liquefaction” in everyday casual conversation, even your 3-year old can

      When a massive group of students appears in your street, you feel overwhelmed with gratitude  instead calling the Police. What’s more, the students leave the street in better condition than when they arrived

      The answer to where anything is … it’s on the floor

      You smile at strangers and greet people like you’re one big family


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See


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