Terrorism and Tea

Every morning I read The Hindu on the guesthouse veranda. I love reading news in Oregon, (print over online, all the way) especially state and local news. You can learn so much about a foreign place’s culture from reading their newspaper.

The caretakers of our guesthouse bring you chai tea before breakfast, which is lovely. The tea here is unbelievable, milky and strong and sweet. I used to hate tea. I thought it was bitter water, and I didn’t get the point of it. I’m a coffee drinker, but my mom drinks chai tea twice a day every day. I have since grown to like chai, especially with honey in it. Before I left the States, my good friend Shab’d who went to boarding school in Punjab told me, “Yeah, but you’ve never even had chai before. You’ll see.” Now I know that he was right.

Today I read about the three sequential Mumbai bombings, which feel incredibly far away in this indolent, cheerful town. With good reason, Indians are feeling increasingly unsafe, and the government and police are not doing enough to respond or prevent future attacks. The perpetrators of the 2008 and 2010 bombings have still not been found. Here’s a bit from an opinion piece on the Indian government’s response:

It is…imperative to develop the capacities our police and intelligence services desperately need: better training, better skills, better working conditions. Instead the focus has been on raising special forces and acquiring cutting-edge technology, assets which the existing system simply does not have the foundations to use to good effect… The nation’s counter-terrorism establishment needs to stop focusing on appearing impressive on television, and buckle down to the task of serious, system-wide reform.” (The Hindu, editorial, July 15, 2011)

Until there is the backbone to support basic investigative work with integrity, shiny new toys will not provide real help.

In other news, 20,000 citizens in Malaysia gathered in peaceful protest on July 9th in the city of Kuala Lumpur to protest a long list of grievances, among them “mooted early elections, spending cuts, political upheavals in neighbouring Thailand and Singapore, establishment cronyism, curbs on public assembly and debate, and state-imposed censorship considered draconian even by regional standards.” (The Hindu, Simon Tisdall, “Malaysia’s Hibiscus Revolution,” July 14, 2011). Thousands of protesters had their freedom of assembly stolen when police began teargassing and baton beating participants in an attempt to break up the protest.

( Protest rally in Kuala Lumpur, July 9, 2011, File Photo, AFP)

Apparently many of the protesters were first timers. Marimuthu Manogaran, a leader in the Democratic Action Party, said “young people [are] coming out there to demand their rights… and I think that is a good sign for Malaysia.” Woot, woot!

(Lai Seng Sin/AP)

You gotta organize… I’m sending Malaysia prayers of empowerment and healing.