Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Island Of Blondes

As a young boy l remember reading Gulliver’s Travels and swiftly getting mesmerized by the idea of Lilliputians. Life is much more than Treasure Island or other fairy tales. Since I never seriously contemplated lowering my anchor at an island inhabited entirely by ladies who wished to be my loving neighbours, the fruit of my patience has finally turned out to be exceedingly sweet. Conservative outlook is doomed because a Lithuanian company Olialia (pronounced ‘ooh-la-la’) now intends to create a holiday resort in the Maldives islands that will be run entirely by blondes.

Mankind’s obsession with blonde womankind is half as old as the sponsor of such schemes: Satan. Ever since man set foot on Earth, his attempts to turn the blue marble into a cheap copy of the promised heaven have turned many small rational steps into giant leaps of insanity. It is for the perfect insān (Arabic for man) that the scriptures promise pleasures in heaven but without revealing the colour of the tresses of heavenly maidens who will make the lives of some men immeasurably enjoyable. Heaven is reprieve from the torture chambers of hell. Or perhaps heaven is the death of death itself, lack of taxes, absence of credit cards, nonexistence of debt and an acute shortage of mobile phone ringtones. We shall not know the whole truth until we renounce all modern discomforts, meaning, fly away as a departed soul to the air headquarters for an interrogation session.

It is true; Olialia’s latest scheme to transform a part of the civilized world into virtual heaven by releasing hundreds of blondes on an island is already drowning men in huge waves of lust because the film industry always stereotypes blondes as ‘dumb’ creatures who wear stilettos, have strange hairstyles and invariably speak in high-pitched tones. The end is nigh, the Baltic blonde movement is upon us and the days of raven-haired beauties are almost over.

The ambitious blonde plan has already attracted criticism from the citizens of the island nation of Maldives, who condemned it as ‘racist and discriminatory since it excludes non-white Maldivians.’

The Maldives islands are truly a sight to behold in the Indian Ocean; never attempt to locate them on a map without the aid of a decent magnifying glass. En-route from Colombo, Sri Lanka, only once did I have the good fortune of staying overnight in the Maldives. As for the abilities of the pilots and their flying machines, their landing on a tiny island literally took my breath away. From a distance of a few kilometres on approach, the airport island looked like the deck of a naval aircraft carrier. By the time the airplane approached the touchdown point, I had hurriedly consumed all my ten nails as snacks. You see, on all four sides of the runway, I found what attracted hordes of tourists to that location: emerald green water.

The captain remarked jokingly, “Landing short, overshooting, or veering to the left or to the right of the short runway is not an option here. Who wants to become lunch for sharks?”

Emerging from the arrival lounge, I hired a sea-taxi whose captain did not want to know the name of a road but rather the island I wished to disembark at. It made perfect sense as various hotels were located on one or the other island. Later the same evening, as I poured the famous 1000 Islands dressing over the salad, I realized how important the Maldives were to vegetarians.

Local laws dictated that resorts in the Maldives hire at least fifty percent local staff. The natives were almost exclusively dark-skinned. My eyes never met with a single inactive blonde during the short stay there, and if there were any such creatures, they were busy scuba-diving with incredibly muscular lovers, or lazily getting at an undisclosed location all the sun their fair skins craved for. Going home with suntans was the thing, but having burnt myself once and feeling twice shy, I decided to remain true to my colour.

Olialia knows more than I do about the Maldives and that is why it is run and staffed by blonde women who conduct business in seventy-five sectors, such as computer software, food products and pop music. Had Debbie Harry’s pop band, Blondie, been alive today, they surely would have become richer in old age. The office environment of Olialia is enviable because the few dark-haired women who work there are surrounded by beautiful blondes—a grim situation that leads to the former colouring their hair quite blonde with grief. The girls there are all very smart; some have as many degrees as a thermometer. To the utter disappointment of the local flesh traders, all the blondes there wish to do something more business-like with their lives.

Maldivian criticism aside, Lithuania might be on the verge of contravening European Union job application and employment laws; the future of older men and women with grey hair is bleak. The company, however, says that ‘it does not discriminate and welcomes all applicants, no matter what their gender, age, or hair colour.’

It will be quite difficult to silence the critics who call Olialia’s marketing strategy sexist because it uses provocative images of blondes to sell products and reinforce negative stereotypes. There is truth in a brunette’s comment that ‘it is clear they are not selling the idea that blondes are clever, they are selling the idea that blondes are sexy, because their selling points are Baltic women and selling lust.’ The car bumper-stickers that read ‘California or bust’ will now display ‘The Baltics or lust’.

All of Olialia's products are advertised using images of attractive blonde women in impossibly intellectual situations, such as, glamorous high-heeled blonde scientists conducting strange laboratory experiments to make a cola drink, or a board meeting of blondes applying make-up while discussing corporate tactics. Since advertisers know the minds of men more than their own wives ever do, Olialia’s campaign—offensive or clownish as it might seem—appears to be working. The company expects double the profit this year since ‘most of the Lithuanians recognise the brand’. If this peculiar Baltic blonde movement means ‘liberation from stereotypes for blonde women’ I demand a blonde re-partition of the Indian sub-continent, a re-enactment of 1947 worthy of being televised on a hundred television channels that we won from windmills in pitched battles fought by a hillock called Enlightened Moderation.

In this land we close down our businesses to honour persons of national importance but in the Latvian capital Riga, a two-day blonde festival attempted to cheer up a country suffering from economic crisis. With a clueless Prime Minister and a loveless President running our show, the common man expects no such festival here. Since we are a ‘branded’ state, the learned bearded ones cannot possibly think along Baltic lines, however, the tired masses would not mind entertaining blonde thoughts in their most private black and white moments.

To spice up the occasion, the festival’s organiser, president of LAB (the Latvian Association of Blondes) included parties, a concert and a march of blonde women through Riga to prove that blondes can be independent and show initiative. We too had a march in our federal capital some years ago in which stick-wielding women wore black hijabs (lose outer garments) and niqabs (face-concealing garments) and wanted the rest of the women of the land to immediately become invisible by walking in their footsteps to revive the garments manufacturing industry.

Although the year of my retirement is far into the future, the blonde resort is scheduled to open by 2015. The project was officially unveiled at a party with—you guessed it—a blonde dress code in a nightclub. The over-excited reaction to such events of quite a few male tourists in Riga proved that female emancipation was never the thing that mattered. On a stag weekend, the police detained a young man because he stripped naked—courtesy of strong drinks—at a concert of blonde women in the Old Town. Although the Baltic blonde movement is designed to attract attention but it also has the potential of causing considerable damage to the region's dream of attracting sober tourists who feel repulsed by its unruly stag party image.

In short, the Lithuanian Olialia’s blonde scheme is a corporate reaction to the public jokes about Baltic blondes being less intelligent, and that is the reason they thought of creating a blonde business empire that intends to attract merrymakers by offering direct flights to the Maldives flown entirely by—get ready for this—blonde stewardesses and pilots.

What is a perfect gentleman to do now? I think I will discreetly whisper, without being suggestive, into the ear of my employer just one thing: host the next annual dinner at the proposed blonde island if you wish to boost employee morale and productivity.