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Not African sports

By Terry Joseph
August 03, 2002

Ongoing attempts to reduce racial profiling were last week set back by at least a millennium, when a group of almost exclusively East Indian youth put on a series of thoroughly revolting public displays; all courtesy our friends at Radio 95.1 FM.

Owned by the Trinidad Broadcasting and Publishing Company, 95.1FM is just one horse in a media stable that also hosts three other radio frequencies, plus the normally straight-laced Guardian and recently introduced Wire newspapers.

Its flagship product, The Guardian, labouring under a self-imposed tag as custodian of democracy, proudly published pictures and story of the young men exercising their civic right to do strange things for money. It was not a helluva lot of money either, to wit, the cost of an all-expenses-paid seven-day Caribbean cruise for two, a prize redeemable only during the current hurricane season.

To go sailing into what could consequently be a hazardous voyage, contestants were initially required to describe on air extreme and socially objectionable acts, with finalists brought to La Romainís Screamers Pub on Sunday last for public demonstration of their bizarre capers.

After a succession of other stomach-turning antics, the winner was Anil Singh, who, in front of a huge crowd, ate ten raw hot peppers, then for an encore drank a litre of honey to trump 12 other finalists in the 95.1 Extreme Vacation Challenge. This bizarre act earned him top response, a score of 133.6 on the applause decibel meter.

Closest rivals were Dave Persad and Amrit Khanna, the latter riding a motorbike off a ramp and through a wall of fire, while the former went for broke in quite another direction. In full view of the public, Persad used a sharp object to pierce the back of his neck as an appetizer, before putting two mice in an electric blender and drinking the puree as his main course.

Another finalist, Anand Dookie ate live worms and a variety of insects that, some swear, included cockroaches and conger eels. He however earned nowhere near the applause accorded Adam Abdool, who gobbled down the raw eye and brain of a sheep.

Nor were those vile presentations the outer limit of extreme depravity last Sunday. Hampers were awarded for a Brent Mohammed stunt that combined striptease with the ingestion of two boiled rats and Arshad Mohammedís completely grotesque skit, which involved drinking a fish swimming in a bowl of publicly solicited saliva. One young lady, Christine Sankar, consumed an entire bottle of rum while standing on her shoulders.

In the sum, this circus of masochism by what we may presume to be the next wave of national leadership did little to help the cause.

Leaving homes that boast parental guidance, extended family support and spiritual example, in order to go to a mall and eat dead rats in public, speaks of a peculiar level of aberration.

Not that all available young people were that day gathered at Screamers or involved in hands-on participation at this Satanic sounding sacramental. I feel certain the majority was either at home or engaged in what must have been less disgusting pursuits.

But reported audience size does speak of overwhelming endorsement for the few who reached last weekís final of what read like a Hellís Angels admission equivalency. An enthusiastic spectatorship, presumably people of like mind, cheered on others who had the belly for such nastiness.

From the African diaspora, it should be noted that among the finalists was a Michelle Henry, who drank a putrid-looking pink punch made from raw cow brains, bull testicles and pig intestines.

While it may be possible to collect from the friendly neighbourhood abattoir what one assumes were fresh remains of animals slaughtered there, the apparent enthusiasm with which contestants went for their gory pursuits may well have involved gouging out preferred body parts and leaving carrion in the wake.

Interestingly, the sick show took place a mere stoneís throw away from the venue of a dolphin show that has been the subject of controversy involving claims by the World Society for the Protection of Animals about degradation of the species.

If this is the new thrust in media marketing, then leave me out of the splattering mess. And while willing to concede that my feeling of repugnance may be a casualty of advancing age, let me rush to contend that it is more so inspired by refinement inculcated during my upbringing in Laventille; a village populated by African-Trinidadians and once considered the national cradle of crudity.

My, how times change!

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