*(reader note: since lots of my recent traffic seems to have an infants sense of irony, I’m marking anything I said ironic with asterisks. ****)
I was asked in an interview recently why the Sri Lankan conflict (which has about 1/2 the deaths + 1/3 of the refugees of the Darfur crisis – 95% of the international attention) doesn’t get more press. Upon realizing that I knew the answer and could articulate it, I felt at once elated, depressed and fucking nerdy. I also felt a deep and abiding need to share.
1) Sri Lanka has precisely * zero * strategic interest for anyone, ever (except India).
The island, though rich in culture, history, and foliage, lacks the natural resources of a place like, say Burma. As an island it borders nothing, and so threatens little. The only people Sri Lanka ever menaces are Indians, though they do that to great effect, since at least the time of the Ramayan, when the demon Ravaana came up out of its jungles to wreck Bible-style havoc. The Tamil refugee crisis has sparked civil unrest in India’s southernmost state, where the entire parlament resigned late last year to protest Delhi’s not doing of things. Then again, Tamil Tigers killed Rajiv Gandhi, so maybe it was, like, a thing. On the third hand, India’s protracted elections will probably reflect, at least in part, Tamil Nadu’s increasing distress at Delhi’s cold shoulder.
From time to time, when I am writing, I have this thought—which I occasionally post on FB:
“sometimes i sit down and i write some shit and i think, holy mother of G-d i am a sick, terrible person. at least i’m thin”
Usually in those exact words . Anyone who knows me knows that i write a lot (despite not having posted here in about a week—srry!), both for a living/school and in my free time. It’s like that quote from Karn’s piece about cigarette smoking in NYC—”I won’t be able to quit. It comes from inside me”
I’ve gotta tell you, the shit i write for work is bad enough (Tamil Tigers, stabbings, rape/murder and a measles epidemic, and that’s just this week), but in spite of or because of this, the shit i write after work is even worse. Sometimes I read through what I’ve written for the night and then i think, motherfucker, i need some valium or a quarter of a xanax or something. Because of course I’m really not writing about these things—I’m writing about a doomed love affair and a laundromat chain and some IED taxi cabs—and yet they come out of me. Which is why if the Kindle ever generates a tag-cloud for fiction, I’ll have to throw myself from the Verrazano Bridge.
Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Bibliomania, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Coney Island, India, Israel, it's a small world, Reimagineers, Sri Lanka, Taxis
Last night, as I found myself drawn into another argument on an old saw of mine, I was reminded (brutally and in the most unpleasant way) of how little we (collectively) hear, talk, write or know about the international scene in the Global South, and immediately again why no one listens when we (reporters, academics and assorted nuts) yap off about it.
Without getting into too much detail (and, tragically, without naming names) allow me to explain:
I was fraternizing at a friend’s birthday party in Harlem when an animated foreign acquaintance and our abrasive American colleague —whom I am at a loss for words to describe (acquaintance feels far too genial)— got into it over, what else, foreign press coverage of policy and conflict outside the G8.
The fireworks started at about the same time Comrade 2 was regaling us with tales of obnoxious American do-gooders in the Save Darfur movement. Or maybe it was obnoxious American do-gooders in the Justice for Palestine movement. Anyway, these were protesters dejour with our lady’s phone number, and damned if she was going to spend precious pico-seconds on the horn with a bunch of scarf-wearing crybaby’s who’s event was under quota for the TV cameras . Wasting her time with their gesturing—how dare they.
Fair enough—I’m not the only person endlessly frustrated with the caprice of the well-meaning. And for once, I wasn’t the only one in the room who felt that too much time and too much UN air is being wasted on Darfur, a horrific situation that is actually among Central Africa’s milder conflicts. One imagines that, as a UN attache for one of the leftier, 3rdworldier TV stations out there, Comrade 2 is practically wading in these people and their half baked ideas about how the world should be run.
“I have customers who used to work in the offices around here,” said Aamir Ajaz, the perpetually smiling face behind the counter at Lahore Deli, a closet-sized SoHo eatery with a loyal following of taxi drivers. “Now they come in and they’re driving cabs.”
As jobs dry up in other sectors, more and more Brooklynites are turning to taxis, driving up lease rates
Check out my latest article at The Brooklyn Ink
(Btw, I have a total working crush on Aamir Ajaz)
Check out my most recent article at The Brooklyn Ink , Adios Brooklyn, about Mexican immigrants leaving New York
By Sonja Sharp
BROOKLYN–If you read us regularly or if you’ve ever glanced at the header, you probably know how 3rdWorldImagineer feels about the enormously pregnant Ms. Arulpragasam, aka M.I.A., the South London Tamili grime star. As I wrote back in December, M.I.A. is the real thing when it comes to imagineery sampling and all-world street cred (she hopped from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nad to South London to Bed-Stuy, for crying outloud). So you can imagine how stoked we all are to see her performing at the Grammys and nominated alongside A.R. Rahman for the Oscar. And how completely disappointed when the Times freshly minted Colombo correspondent uses this moment–the deepening of a humanitarian crisis so severe that the world can no longer turn a blind eye to it, and the ascent of an exceptionally talented artist to whom, until the awards season, the Times had been equally deaf–to pen a hackish, one-dimensional piece on her radical personal politics, as though it were revelatory.
(I’m linking the piece here, just so we have a frame of reference going forward)
Are you just now picking up Arular, Mr. Fuller? (M.I.A.’s debut album is named for her father, Arular Arulpragasam, who joined the Tamili separatist movement in northern Sri Lanka in the 1980s). Do you miss Guragoan? No air-locked malls in Colombo, innit?
There’s lots to say about M.I.A’s politics and her amusing incoherence in expressing them, but the fact that the Times JUST dumped somebody in Colombo last week is so apparent, its ugly.
Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Coney Island, Immigration, Los Angeles, MUMBAI, Palestine, Religion, Sri Lanka, The Liberal Media, United Nations