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Friday, October 14, 2005

Tropical Paradise?

Here's a headline that I was surprised to see. I mean, I know that crime exists everywhere in the world, but it's pretty sad when it has to happen in such locations. You're probably wondering how a person being killed in some shady alley of a metropolis receives less 'sorrow' or 'sympathy' from me than, say, a person being murdered on some pristine Hawaiian beach, for example. I don't know, but having been in Hawaii for a couple of years I don't know what would make a person act violently, except maybe crack (all kinds of crack, mind you. Including the infamous Jack's crack) or ice. I mean what would make you want to be aggressive in a place like that, especially with the friendly local people and the spirit of ohana?

Well, the only explanation that I have for that is the fact that when the number of people in a specific place becomes a bit much we tend to act like lemmings...except we can't all go running off of cliffs in a frenzied state because, well, because it wouldn't be a 'human' thing to do. My cousin's husband actually talked about this because he was surprised to see how people constantly pushing each other around and trying to make their way through seemed to do so without a care for the other person as a human being...more like they were obstacles in the way and had to be moved to the side, like a chair that doesn't belong in the center of the living room. And you find that happens with you when you come down here. There are just so many people that no one is willing to spend more than a second trying to assist you. Sure, there are those days when people will help you and go out of their way to assist you. But that's like spotting a patch of grass at the North Pole; it's just a story, and unless I see it for myself I'm not going to believe it.

My best example for comparing the difference between a place like India and a place like Hawaii (because I've had the opportunity of living in both places) is the general atmosphere of the places, and the attitude of the crowd during a cricket match...I'll get to this second one in a second. In Hawaii, apart from the older 'white' people who looked at us suspiciously, everyone else was extremely friendly and open. I can't seem to remember all the times I've had random conversations with people at busstops. But in India, the chances of it happening are a little less...oh, and if anyone thought that the buses in HNL got crowded you should check them out here. Alternatively, just ask Ro about the trains in BOM. And now for the cricketing example. Well, a lot of the matches that I've seen on TV which were played in the West Indies or in Sri Lanka always showed a jovial crowd with a band playing and people having an overall good time. On the other hand, there have been too many times when matches have ended violently in India; bottles being thrown at the opposing team. The next time you see a match being played in India notice how tall the fence that separates the crowd from the field is. In Mohali, they've built a dry moat, like a pit, around the field, again to separate the field of play from the audience...and it's quite wide and deep. Wow, they may as well redo the Colosseum and put in jail cells that look out onto the center to be absolutely sure.

But yeah, coming back to the article for a second, it's pretty crazy. It talks about how there is a rising crime rate in the island nations of the Caribbean. Pretty alarming stuff...because it seems that this year a couple of countries have already crossed/exceeded last year's "violent-death" toll. Here are some startling facts:

1) "In Jamaica, owners shut their businesses for a day in May to protest the high crime rate. The island of 2.7 million people has had more than 1,400 murders so far this year, already outnumbering the total for all of last year."

2) "'Trinidad and Tobago can hang its head in shame on a count of over 280 murders, over 160 kidnappings, and over 11,300 serious reported crimes to date for 2005,' said Galt, president of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago. 'Pit this against a (crime) detection rate of approximately 22 percent and a conviction rate of below 10 percent. The result: failure.'"

But here's the other side of the problem:

3) "Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries blame the problem in part on their location, along shipping routes linking the major cocaine producers of South America with the major consumers of North America and Western Europe."

4) "Authorities have seized 6 tons of cocaine in Trinidad's territorial waters since August and believe that represents less than 10 percent of the amount shipped annually. Jamaica's national security minister, Peter Phillips, estimated 100 to 120 metric tons of cocaine are transshipped through Jamaica annually."

5) "The problem is compounded by criminals deported to their Caribbean homelands from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, Manning and Phillips both believe. In the last decade, 23,703 Jamaicans were returned to Jamaica from overseas. The majority -- 16,833 -- were deported for criminal offenses, and drug crimes were the most prevalent, Phillips said."

And this is the side to paradise that you don't see. It makes you wonder how another person, another human being much like yourself can look at the same pristine beauty and think of using it as a place to transport drugs and conduct other criminal activities. This was the case in Hawaii too. I was shocked/surprised to hear that it was the 'crack' capital of the US. I couldn't believe it. I mean, there I was admiring the sunsets which grew more and more beautiful with each passing day, and just loving the nice sandy beaches and chilling out...and then this? But you only need to ponder it for a second and you realize that the average human being has the ability to do anything, and, unfortunately, drug-dealing and murder fall into this 'anything' category. Well, I guess we're finding new ways of messing up the planet.

You know what would be really hilarious, like a totally inverted situation as opposed to the one that presents itself now? What if someone discovered that animal faeces, doesn't matter which animal, but let's say it was an endangered species, could give you a high; one that was more potent that even the most mind-blowing LSD. Would people really go for something like that? I mean, would we ignore the fact that it was animal excrement which was getting us high, however it did that, and still do it? On the plus side, it would mean that the animal could continue to live unharmed because all we need is its waste matter. This would be totally different from trying to get the tusks off of a live elephant, or the penis off a tiger so that it can adorn your soup and make you feel more 'beastly' in the sack. Poor animals. And poor people too. Living on islands, off the land and the sea, and some explorer came by with his insatiable itch for new discovery and said, "Hey, this seems like a nice place to plunder." Still happening though, I'm afraid. Until the next bit of disturbing news, I'd just like to end by saying Aloha...and Mahalo.
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