Sydney’s Lindt Cafe Siege…12 Months On.

As I gingerly entered Sydney’s Lindt Cafe yesterday, nobody handed me a bravery award, or even acknowledged the deeply troubled significance of my visit. That I wasn’t there for chocolate or even coffee.

A year after Sydney’s horrific terrorist siege in the Lindt Cafe at the heart of Martin Place, I was there to pay my respects.

Like so many, I had been glued to the TV screen during the siege. I’d broken my foot the day before. Immobilised and in pain, I vicariously experienced the horror, the not knowing and witnessed those gunshots which brought the siege to an end with three deaths and a blinding flash of light.

You don’t have to be there anymore to experience a sense of such trauma. Even if you have only half a heart, watching such trauma on TV, absorbing the aftermath of personal stories and being walked in their shoes, are enough.

As I said, you don’t need to be there.

Yet, for those that were, how do you ever move forward and yet they have no choice. Life goes on. It doesn’t stop. Pause. Hold its breath. It just keeps going and like running late for the train, you just have to get onboard.

I haven’t vowed never to frequent the Lindt Cafe but I still stand by what I said last year, with such a plethora of choice, I’d rather go some place else. Somewhere I can smile, laugh relax, write without being pursued by dark shadows.

As I said, I was far from being comfortable being in the Lindt Cafe. I could feel the gunshots going off and yet I couldn’t smell gunpowder.

All I could smell was chocolate. That intoxicating smell of chocolate and yes, that smell was very particular. It was Lindt chocolate. I was absolutely divine, heavenly and I can’t believe I resisted it all. However, it was such a hot day and I wasn’t going straight home so I didn’t even buy a drop. Even resisted all those gold Lindt teddy bears…two for $10.00!

When you enter the Lindt Cafe, there’s the chocolate shop on your left and you have to swing around to your right, to enter the cafe.

That was all fine. Didn’t affect me at all.

However, seeing the staff wearing the very same dark chocolate-coloured aprons which had been worn by the hostages,  triggered an awful sense of terror. The simple aprons made me feel ill.

It’s not surprisingly really. After all, the main images of the siege featured terrified Lindt employees wearing these very same aprons, escaping from the terrorist and running for their lives. There was one girl in particular. The horror etched into her face. She was running for her life… a survivor escaping a war zone.

You don’t forget that.

At least, I don’t.

I left without buying anything and would’ve liked to light a candle for Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson who were killed during the siege. I didn’t see anywhere I could do that but I did stop at a memorial out the front.

Yet, what can you say?

More and more I am finding words are so inadequate and like so many at Christmas time, I have no spare cash.

I walked out of the cafe and back into Martin Place.

heartman 24.6.2010

“Heartman” Drawn by Mister 2010 aged 6.

Not unsurprisingly, being around lunchtime, Martin Place was humming. It is the hub of Sydney’s CBD. Of course, the Christmas Tree was up and I was conscious that for a second Christmas, Katrina Dawson’s kids didn’t have their Mum. As a chronically ill Mum with two young kids, I feel that. We’ve had a few Christmases where my life was hanging in the balance and have had our own horror. Of course, I’m going to be mindful of those experiencing what I’ve feared with all that I am.

Yet, despite this churning vortex of intense, grueling emotion, I was strangely comforted by a classical guitarist performing in Martin Place. I noticed him a couple of blocks away and somehow the notes hooked into my heart. Like the children being lured by the Pied Piper of Hamlin, I felt myself being irresistibly drawn towards his melodious song. Quite often, I find myself drawn towards more melancholy music, but this was so upbeat, happy and just what the heart doctor ordered.

joseph

An incredible CD of classical guitar to lift up your soul.

Thank you Joseph Zarb! You can hear him  too at http://www.jose.net.au

Still feeling reflective, there was now a spring in my step.

Music helps the heart to heal and to hope.

Dancing_Man,_Australia,_end_of_World_War_II

This iconic photo known as “Dancing Man” was taken in Elizabeth Street, Martin Place celebrating the end of WWII on 15 August, 1945.

It is an intriguing coincidence that one of Sydney’s most iconic historical photographs, The Dancing Man, was taken virtually outside where the Lindt Cafe stands today. This photo captured the jubiliant excitement of the end of World War II. It doesn’t deny it’s horror but it does celebrate a better future…peace!

Jean Julien Peace for Paris

Jean Julien “Peace for Paris”

Since the horror of the Lindt Siege, there have been two major terrorist attacks on Paris and there’s a heightened level of vigilance and dare I say, fear.

However, that doesn’t mean we resign ourselves to the status quo. Stop fighting for freedom and that ultimate goal, which, even though it might sound rather cheesy and corny…world peace.

As John Lennon said: “Give peace a chance”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkZC7sqImaM

give peace a chance-yoko ono-lennon

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Sydney’s Lindt Cafe Siege…12 Months On.

  1. Minuscule Moments

    Rowena how quickly time moves by. I think I would have felt the shadows in there too. Life can change in a second. But we cannot let fear stop us from living. Thanks for reminding us of the one year anniversary I can’t imagine what the surviving staff have been through this last year.

  2. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Very moving post Rowena!
    There hasn’t been any ‘deadly’ terror in the local vicinity of me. This is why I don’t live in a large city, however I know terrorists can attack anywhere.
    I love ‘Heart Man’!

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much. My son never ceases to surprise me. He is a very sensitive and artistic young man but quite often that gets masked by his moods.
    I am becoming surprised by the number of things which I’ve seen in the last month which could be construed as suspicious. I wouldn’t say that I’m being consciously vigilant and yet what might be a stray package, is now a potential bomb and not something to ignore. It is a different world.
    I doubt a terrorist would turn up where we live either but even a terrorist could get lost. I once watched an old movie when a group of Russian spies accidentally got lost and took refuge in someone’s garage. That’s something I’d do.

  4. roweeee Post author

    This is the second time I’ve been through Martin Place since the siege. Last time, the Lindt Cafe was still closed and the door was boarded up. It felt eerie walking through Martin Place and I was afraid. That sensation wasn’t as strong yesterday and it was only seeing the aprons and being reminded of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson which upset me.
    I agree with you about the staff at the Cafe. They are made of strong stuff.

  5. aFrankAngle

    This post was quite the emotional roller coaster … even if it was just the part about the Lindt Cafe. Amazing how places can affect our emotions and feelings. … Love the guitarist, and I’m a big fan of quality street performers. … In the end, yes – give peace a chance – and even more, I continue to believe that the majority of people in the world are good – but if only the majority had the power.

  6. merrildsmith

    A very thoughtful post, Rowena. I hope at some point you will feel able to banish the ghosts and horror of the Lindt Cafe. I wasn’t familiar with the dancing man photo. Thanks for sharing it–and the rest, of course. Hugs!

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  9. carolschepper

    Very moving post, Rowena – it’s been a hell of a year, actually. But yes, we must continue to remind ourselves that the majority of people are good. And that the only way to bring about peace is to just keep spending compassion wherever we can.
    Have a wonderful holiday!

  10. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Carol. When we had the siege in Sydney, we had no idea what lay ahead in Paris. It is alarming but I agree with you. The good need to come together and work for peace and acceptance xx Rowena

  11. herheadache

    I remember hearing about this on the news when it was happening. How awful.
    I love chocolate and this brand of chocolate in particular. This is just such the spot I would love to visit if I ever made it to Australia, like I would love to.
    Now it is stocked by horror and you can’t help feeling it. Thanks for sharing your observations at that place.

  12. roweeee Post author

    Thank you very much. I hope you’ll get out to Australia one day and I look forward to catch up and show you around. Hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a very Happy New Year xx Rowena

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