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Category: International Date: 30 Oct 05

 

Tuesday

 

On the flight over read about the Bird Flu—of its scary genes—moving in 1997 to 2004 from Hong Kong to South Korea to China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia.

 

The Guardian (UK) says “at worst it could have a devastating global impact, greater than a terrorist or nuclear attack” quoting the World Health Organization that estimates that a mild pandemic ‘could cause between two million and 7.5 million deaths. With a severe pandemic the death toll could rise as high as 150 million people.’

 

Resolve not to eat chicken. Ducks are silent carriers. Ducks pass them on but don’t get it themselves.

 

Arrive jetlagged, dimly observing how the leaves are still green on trees and gold only on the ground.

 

Wednesday

 

Was browsing in shop when a pretty ‘red’ girl said in a Trini accent ‘Hi Ira, are you still in the media?’ I didn’t know her but a disc of a shared feeling over our islands slipped immediately into place as it does abroad on meeting people from home. They immediately cease to be strangers. She’d left Trinidad two years ago with her husband to try it out here. Homesickness was written all over her face. To my ‘how do you like it here?’ she answered.

 

‘It’s different. But I would love to come home. If I could.’ So many people are in forced exile I thought. They live with longing. Their bodies are here, safe from kidnapping murder and harm but their hearts ache from stretching across the continent to their home.

 

Thursday

 

The annual crime figures for September were out. Burglary is down 17 per cent, car theft ten per cent violence down seven per cent. Serious offences like murder down eight per cent.

 

The British zero tolerance policy is working!

 

Our Minister of National Security must give Blair a call in Downing Street and ask him how he did it. Blair may tell him ‘It’s no secret chappie. We’ve increased police presence, are paying close attention to neglected children, closer attention to finding meaningful employment for young men, and clamping down on drug and alcohol fuelled crime.'

 

Our Minister of National Security might reply ‘No talk then? Only action?’ and hang up disappointed.

 

The odd thing is Blair is getting slammed by the media for his handling of crime. Senior Reporters like Poly Toynbee are criticising Blair for not taking enough credit for doing so well for leaving the door open for other parties to come into power!

 

Toynbee’s comments for a Trini, read like some surreal science fiction. The first thing Tony Blair did when he came back from the election was thunder on about boys in hoodies, respect and Asbos. He made it his number one message, to the dismay of many of his ministers. So the public gets the message that crime must be bad because the prime minister himself keeps saying so. It’s the first thing he has done again on returning to parliament: chasing his own tail, demolishing his own success.

 

Friday

 

Riots in Birmingham between Asian and Afro-Caribbean gangs. Four people stabbed, one man fatally. A policeman shot in the leg. There are unconfirmed reports that the rape of a girl was involved but no evidence that the girl exists or the attack took place.

 

Amidst the mayhem Dr Frank Reeves of Race Equality West Midlands said both groups, the Asians and the Afro Caribbeans were severely disadvantaged and in competition with each other for jobs and other opportunities. Amid the confusions and accusations it’s about anger, discontent and jealousy. It happens here too. Here it’s an unfortunate incident with minorities. In our country anger discontent and jealousy is an epidemic with majorities.

 

Saturday

 

Met Trinis who’d left 20 years ago. Their Trini-ness after all this time made me want to weep. Joking about the Trini who left a message for them in London that one Ram called to see them. Or about the Trini who when asked in London which part of the world he was from replied with confidence Penal.

 

Its crisply beautifully autumn, the people polite, we wave at visiting royalty at traffic lights, theatre, cinema, clubs abound but its not home.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur