Thursday, June 16, 2005

Geneva and the Backstreet Boys

Very interesting situation right now, with the Biharis in the Geneva camps, i'm doing a short story on them, just wanted to say a bit about it.

Just a brief summary, the Biharis live in about 66 camps throughout Bangladesh, often called "stranded Pakistanis" that were left behind after West Pakistan pulled out when Bangladesh won its independence. So Pakistan doesn't want them, because of politial complications and Bangladesh obviously doesn't want them either, because they sided with the Pakistanis during the war.

So they live like refugees, no rights as any sort of citizen even though it's been 35 years and so many of them born here without any inkling as to what it means to be Pakistani.

But the shitty thing is, the situation is getting worse. The Bangladesh goernment seems to be losing interest in taking care of these people, and the Pakistani government hasn't said or done anything recently.

AND here comes the rub.

The UNHCR has said that their hands are tied because these people do not fall into their definition of refugees.

Sound familiar?

I can't explain it entirely, but it has something to do with them being neither Bangladeshi NOR Pakistani - so where is the UN supposed to send them to? And they were displaced citizens lost in the creation of a country.

And the moment they put their hands in, then i think they'll get dragged in totally, and that's like accounting for 400,000 people.

i've never seen a more dead-end situation.

Can someone remind me about how the UN's problem with definitions hampered something on genocide? Memory fails me.


Just a little bit of nostalgia, triggerd by a song.. well you'll see:

We were really quite young, I don't think I was even 15. It was an adventure, even with my teachers and friends all around. I cannot remember most of the trip anymore, but I haven't forgetten the mountains towering over me with long evil-looking faultlines down it sides, threatening to spilt the thing into two. I haven't forgotten my first breathe of truely fresh air, high up on the cliffs, with nary a concrete block in sight for miles. I haven't forgotten the lakes, with water so clear and cold it broke my heart.

It was five of us, on a boat speeding across the lake to the other side. Just 15 years old, no worries about anything, except for whether I looked "cool" enough with all the other kids. I lost touch with all of them except for one, who I hardly see because she's not in Singapore.

But yes, the five of us, truely and genuinely happy because we didn't even have to pretend to not have any worries, and we started to create our own Music Video for the Backstreet Boys' hit, I think it was called "As Long as You Love Me". Funny thing about the song, the lyrics are impossibly easy to remember.

So yes, there we were, singing at the top of our lungs to this song which none of us dared to admit to like, yet we knew it well enough to harmonize the bridge. Blue sky, open waters, post-card perfect moment.

It's an impossibly corny memory to have I suppose, but I'm glad I haven't forgotten it.

And it's been only a mere 6 years or so since i last heard that song, and how strange it is to hear it now, in Bangladesh. Initial reaction was the automatic repulsion to boybands, of course, but now I want to hear it again to imagine how it was like on that boat in the middle of China, singing till I lost my voice the next day.

This would be a point to compare where I was then and now, quarter-life autobiography if you want to call it, but nah.

I'll wait till i'm home.