Here I am again - sitting in a large pressurised metal tube that is hurtling its way through the air at unthinkable speeds and at a frightening height. Destination Delhi. I have been cursed by the ticketing Gods and am sitting next to an excitable and perspiring Indian man named Oojam who is an incessant chatterer. We exchanged polite pleasantries as we took our seats at the front and the business part of the plane that are the perks of our respective employment. I asked Oojam if there was an English translation for his Hindi name and he told me that it meant ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘exuberant’.
Telling Oojam that I had work to do and I could not yack with him did not dissuade him - so I had to resort to putting on my headphones. It still did not stop him. He wanted to talk about Delhi and his work. I regretted telling him the name of my Employer as it obviously got him going. It often does with strangers. They think I may be someone important – which I most definitely am not – and they wish to discuss doing business with me.
Despite his real Rolex watch and immaculate attire Oojam had not yet discovered or could not afford deodorant. I was choking. I had to use the orange sponge earplugs that are provided by the airline to stuff up each of my nostrils to block the stench.
I made mention of this because this is what the Australian Government is now doing to refugees that are arriving by boat. I won’t elaborate on this issue as I also wrote an article on this subject a couple of weeks ago that I titled “Boat People”.
My curiosity is greatly piqued by the tale of Alex’ father and I shall seek further and better particulars when I next see my mate.
I also like the word ‘pique’. The origins of this word are from the Old French ‘picque’ which translates to a ‘prick’ or a ‘sting’. Its common day usage refers to a stimulation of interest.
I shall endeavour to use both words in one sentence tomorrow in a conversation with one of the English with whom I work in Delhi. These English are not particularly bright and will more than likely not understand what either word means.
Ironically some of the English with whom I work are also pricks.
The dwarf who was set on fire by the Australian footballer allegedly sustained only minor injuries as a result of the incident. He was ignited by the footballer during a drunken end-of-season event that is known as ‘Mad Monday'. This is a ridiculous but traditional day and night of revelry by many football clubs where players ‘let their hair down’ by drinking themselves in stupors and playing childish pranks.
It is not completely clear from the article that was sent to me by Alex why the dwarf was in attendance at the function - as he is not a football player. He is in fact a professional wrestler.
A spokesman from the wrestling company said in a statement that the Little Person had sustained no injury, but he was "very distressed" by the incident.
The statement added, "He is a performer who relies on his self-esteem and confidence to be able to perform at events like this. Tonight he’s feeling very miserable and spending time with friends. He’s very distressed,"
I wished to use my plane time for reading and writing but the man was persistent and I had to eventually tell him that I had much work to do and I could not talk to him any more.
I told Oojam that I have been to Delhi many times and I did not need to hear about the sites of the city. I have seen them all and I am going to the city for work and not pleasure. I also told him that I am very insignificant in my Company – and I could not do any business with him at all.
Oojan was very well dressed in a camel coloured suit with blue shoes and a thick gold chain around his neck. He was wearing a chunky and gaudy Rolex watch that was the size of a clock and it looked real. He told me several times that it was real. His attire was in complete contrast to mine as I was wearing what I usually do – a wrinkled tee shirt, torn denim jeans and no shoes. Some of the rips in my jeans are designed and others are of my own making. I am shoeless on the plane but I walked on and will walk off in a pair of Havaiana thongs. Some may call these sandals and others - such as the English - will call them flip-flops.
They are all incorrect – we Australians invented thongs and we also named them.
Oojam did not seem to either notice or question why I did this – although the air hostesses gave me peculiar looks when they served me my dinner. It is a little difficult to breathe just through my mouth but the body odour of Oojan is such that it was making my eyes water.
I have had to tilt my Mac at an angle to prevent Oojam from reading what I am writing. He keeps craning his neck to try but I think I have thwarted him.
I write to be read but in this instance I do not wish this particular reader to intrude.
I took the opportunity to catch up on some email correspondence whilst I was in the airport lounge in Singapore. My friend Alex in Sydney sent me another email earlier this week that he thought that I would be interested in reading. The email contained a link to an Australian Newspaper with the Headline “St Kilda's Clinton Jones apologises for dwarf burning incident”.
St Kilda is an Australian Rules football team and Clinton Jones is one of the team’s star players. Alex sent me the email because he knows that I love Australian Rules football, I have an interest in dwarves and I occasionally threaten to set the odd person on fire. Unlike Clinton Jones – I have never actually set any one on fire though and if I was to – it would unlikely be a dwarf.
It may well be Oojam.
My interest in dwarves should not be misconstrued. Their place in fables such as Snow White and their re-emergence as heroic but grumpy characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy I am sure have interested a lot of people. I have written a little about dwarves previously in an article I titled ‘Sleepy’ and I noted then that Dwarves don't generally like being called dwarves.
They prefer to be referred to as "Little People".
Dwarfism is a medical condition. It is a genetic disorder named achondroplasia. Dwarves are associated with mysticism and mountains and in ancient India they were referred to as dhvaras. They were considered to be powerful demonic type of beings. I like India and mountains and many things that are perceived to be mystic – and thus I am interested in Little People.
I wrote an article mentioning my mate Alex last week that I titled “Quarks, Coincidences and Conversations”. He is an extroverted genius scientist and is a very good mate who I have known for a long time. In the article I mentioned that I knew Alex was of Bulgarian heritage - and I wondered whether he and his family had arrived in Australia as refugees - and if so did they arrive in the country on an overcrowded and leaky and dangerous boat that may have been intercepted by the Australian Navy?
I pondered whether Australian Immigration Authorities then sent them to an offshore Immigration processing centre in a country like Nauru - and kept them as prisoners in atrocious conditions for years and years.
The Australian Government’s policy on refugees is I think heartless.
It is abhorrent.
In the email from Alex that attached the link to the news article about the Australian footballer who set the dwarf on fire - he clarified the matter for me. Alex informed me that he was actually born in Australia however his father was a Political Refugee who escaped from a prison camp in Bulgaria with two of his friends. They escaped from their cell by digging a hole with a spoon and their bare hands.
His father and his two fellow inmates were not criminals – they were incarcerated by the Communist regime of Bulgaria. Alex told me that after escaping from their cell they trekked across the then named Yugoslavia and got on a boat to Italy and they some time later arrived in Australian where they received asylum.
I find it interesting that asylum means both the protection that is granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee as well as an institution for people who have mental impairments. Crazy people. The origins of the word are ancient Greek – from the words ‘asylon’ – which means ‘refuge’ – and ‘asylos’ – which means ‘a place that is safe from violence’.
I like the word incarcerate. It is derived from the Medieval Latin word incarceratus - which is the past participle of incarcerare - which means “to imprison”. The Latin word for in actually means “in” and carcer means “a prison” or to "put behind lines”.
Local police are apparently investigating the incident - as they probably should. The idea of a distressed dwarf is upsetting – or it could be amusing – it depends on which way you look at it.
Oojam has now gone to sleep and his snoring is very loud. I have had to request another pair of the orange sponge earplugs from the airhostesses to this time put in my ears to block out the noise. The air hostesses continue to give me strange looks and I know that I must look a bit silly with these plugs in both my ears and my nose.
I don’t care at all.