16 March, 2007

Gangs Of Mukalla?

Across Latin, Central and North America - gangs seem to have taken over the streets. In urban areas. It's the same, in many South Asian and European cities. Gangs and vigilante groups, roam the streets, slums and neighborhoods: intimidating, causing fear, terrorizing, maiming and even killing and assassinating people. At will. And in most cases - with impunity. While in South African urban centers and Nairobi, people - at nights in particular - live in fear of criminals and thugs. What of: 'gangs of Mukalla'? There are non. Al Mukalla is utterly free of gangs, criminals or thugs. Of a violent kind. As are all urban centers in Yemen. But there is a striking likeness between Mukalla and Rio De Janeiro, the Marvelous City. From a distance, out in the sea, Mukalla looks strikingly so; like Rio.

As a boy, I used to dream of Rio and Curitiba. But Rio mesmerized me most. This was the result of my late Dad giving me presents of three geographic encyclopedias on: South America, North America and Asia. I was about ten then. Of the three books, for some reasons that I do not know - South America interested me more. And could be because of: the Amazon or the anaconda; or Pele, Garrincha,Vava, Jairzinho and Rivelino; or Rio and Curitiba - Brazil interested me most. That's how my enormous liking for Rio began. But Rio De Janeiro, River of January, now, is not that dream place I had in mind. Rio is a city under terror. 'Terror' in its real sense. Still, I would love to visit Rio. I would have loved to live in Rio. I would have loved to be a 'Cariocas'. Still, in a way - that dream, of living in Rio has been fulfilled. In a way.

Mukalla's stunning natural setting, like Rio's, is between the mountains and the sea. Beautiful, rolling, hazy mountains and the purest, deep blue sea. Mukalla doesn't have the eleven million plus of people that Rio has, but just a very tiny fraction of that and thus - doesn't have slums. Mukalla doesn't have any thing compared to the very famous Rio carnival and its sambas; but during Ramadhan, for the whole of that month - Mukalla is, indeed, a city celebrating. Mukalla doesn't have the enormous disparities between rich and poor that is in Rio; which could be the root cause of Rio's high crime rate. And instead of Copacabana, Mukalla has Qhalf, Sharae Sitteen and the Khor. But most pleasing and pacifying of all, Al Mukalla's streets, suburbs and neighborhoods are free of fear. Fear of gangs, thugs and criminals. Mukalla is at and in PEACE.