Jay Bahadur

  • Aired:  08/09/11
  •  | Views: 44,209

Writer Jay Bahadur describes living with pirates at the age of 24 and encountering the Somali pirate PR machine. (6:12)

>> Jon: MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A

WRITER, HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED

"THE PIRATES OF SOMALIA: INSIDE

THE HIDDEN WORLD."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

JAY BAHADUR.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

COME AND SIT.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE THE

BOOK IS CALLED "THE PIRATES OF

SOMALIA.

THE HIDDEN WORLD."

JAY, YOU ARE HOW OLD?

>> I'M 27 NOW.

>> Jon: HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN

YOU WENT BY YOURSELF TO SOMALIA

TO LIVE AMONGST THE PIRATES?

>> WELL, WHEN I STARTED SCHEMING

ABOUT IT I WAS 24.

>> Jon: AS YOUR FATHER, I

CANNOT ALLOW THIS!

(LAUGHTER)

>> YOU KNOW, SURPRISINGLY MY

PARENTS SAID VERY LITTLE ABOUT

IT.

WHICH IS... CAUSED ME TO BECOME

CONCERNED ABOUT IT SINCE THEN

BECAUSE...

(LAUGHTER).

EVERY MEDIA INTERVIEW I DO

PEOPLE ASK "WHAT DID YOUR

PARENTS THINK?"

AND I THINK "NEVER SAID

ANYTHING."

THEN AGAIN I NEVER HAD A TALK

ABOUT DRUGS, SEX, ALCOHOL, SO...

NEITHER DID I HAVE ONE ABOUT

GOING TO EMBED WITH VICIOUS MEN

ON MY OWN.

>> Jon: SO YOUR PARENTS ARE

SOMEWHAT LAISSEZ-FAIRE WHEN IT

COMES TO PARENTING?

>> YEAH, I GUESS YOU COULD SAY

THAT, YES.

>> Jon: FAIR ENOUGH.

IT IS A REMARKABLE STORY.

THERE'S A GREAT SEQUENCE THAT

DICTATES YOUR, I GUESS, 45-HOUR

TRIP, AS A 24-YEAR-OLD YOU DON'T

KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING AND YOU

LAND, UKRAINIAN PILOT WITH COLD

WAR TECHNOLOGY LANDS YOU SOMALIA

AND YOU STEP OUT OF THE PLANE

AND THINK...

>> WELL, I SAID TO MYSELF "I'M

IN (BLEEP) SOMALIA."

(LAUGHTER)

THIS WAS SOMETHING... AND I TALK

ABOUT IN THE THE BOOK HOW IT'S A

STRANGE EXPERIENCE GOING FROM A

PLACE WHERE I'VE ALWAYS CONSUMED

NEWS MY WHOLE LIFE TO A PLACE

THAT'S REALLY ONLY BEEN DEFINED

BY THE NEWS.

I NEVER KNEW ANYONE WHO'D BEEN

TO SOMALIA.

I WOULD GUESS THE SAME IS TRUE

OF YOU.

>> Jon: NO, I'VE GOT SOME...

(LAUGHTER).

SOME PEOPLE ON MY CHRISTMAS CARD

LIST.

>> SO IT'S A COUNTRY THAT'S

TOTALLY BEEN MANUFACTURED OUT OF

NEWS REPORTS AND COMING TO TERMS

WITH THAT WAS SORT OF AN

EXPERIENCE.

>> Jon: IS THE PORTRAYAL OF

SOMALIA, THEN, MORE CHAOTIC,

LESS CHAOTIC, IS IT IN ANY WAY

AN ACCURATE PORTRAYAL?

IS IT SUPERFICIAL AND

EXAGGERATED?

WHAT'S...

>> WELL, I THINK IT HAS TO BE

SUPERFICIAL BECAUSE ONE THING

THAT DOESN'T COME ACROSS IN

MEDIA REPORTS IS THE FACT THAT

SOMALIA IS INCREDIBLY SEGREGATE

BID CLAN AND SO WHAT YOU HAVE ON

THE GROUND IS IN THE SOUTH IT'S

A MESS.

IT'S SORT OF LIKE WHAT YOU SEE

IN THE NEWS.

IN THE NORTH THERE'S A LOT OF

MINI STATES THAT HAVE CROPPED UP

WHERE LOCAL PEOPLE HAVE COME

TOGETHER AND, YOU KNOW, FORMED

GOVERNMENTS.

BECAUSE PEOPLE GENERALLY DON'T

LIKE TO LIVE IN ANARCHY.

AND SO YOU HAVE A NUMBER OF

THESE STATELETS AND ONE OF THESE

REGIONS I ENDED UP GOING TO WAS

THE CENTER OF THE WHOLE PIRACY

EXPLOSION 2008 AND IT WAS CALLED

PUNTLAND.

THE BOOK WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED

"THE PIRATES OF PUNTLAND" BUT

NOBODY KNOWS WHAT PUNTLAND IS

SO...

(LAUGHTER).

>> Jon: YOU MENTION THE TERM

IN THE BOOK THAT THEY PREFERRED

TO BE REFERRED AS...

>> SAVIORS OF THE SEA.

WHICH IS A ROUGH TRANSLATION

BUT, YEAH, IT'S... IT

ENCAPSULATES HOW THEY SEE

THEMSELVES.

>> Jon: WHAT I DIDN'T REALIZE

IS IT'S THE FIRST GENERATION OF

THE PIRATES COMES FROM DEFENDING

THEIR LOBSTER FISHING TURF.

THAT SOME OF THESE PIRATES WERE

ACTUALLY LOBSTER FISHERMEN.

>> RIGHT.

AND THAT'S TRUE FOR A VERY,

VERY, VERY SMALL NUMBER.

WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW IS

THAT FISHING WAS NEVER A HUGE

PART OF THE SOMALI ECONOMY.

IN FACT, THE FORMER DICTATOR,

THE ONLY REASON THERE WERE

FISHING COMMUNITIES IS BECAUSE

HE WAS A MARXIST AND WANTED TO

REENGINEER SOCIETY.

SO HE ESSENTIALLY STARTED

FORCIBLY RELOCATING PEOPLE INTO

THESE FISHING COMMUNITIES IN THE

'70s AND '80s WHICH WAS HOW

SOME OF THE PIRATES STARTED.

BUT NOW IT'S SORT OF GONE...

IT'S FLOATED WAY BEYOND THAT.

IT'S BECOME PART OF THE PIRATE

P.R. MACHINE.

AND THERE VERY MUCH IS A PIRATE

P.R. MACHINE.

I SWEAR.

WHEN YOU SPEAK TO THEM IT'S LIKE

THEY'RE BEING ISSUED PRESS

RELEASES.

>> Jon: YOU SAID ONE OF THE

BEST WAYS TO INTERVIEW THEM WAS

TO GET THEM CHEW ON... HOW DO

YOU... KA'AT, THE LEAF THAT

MAKES THEM DROWSY...

>> Jon: QUITE THE OPPOSITE.

IT'S LIKE A COCA LEAF, SOMETHING

THAT REALLY JACKS YOU UP.

(LAUGHTER)

AND THE... I THOUGHT IT WAS THE

FUNNIEST THING IN THE WORLD

BECAUSE YOU THINK, YOU KNOW,

PIRATES ARE... YOU READ IN THE

MEDIA THAT THEY'RE BUILDING HUGE

HOUSES AND LIVE THESE LUXURIOUS

LIFE-STYLES BUT THEY SPEND IT

ALL ON THIS DRUG.

IT'S...

(LAUGHTER).

IT'S A REALLY FOUL-TASTING LEAF

IMPORTED FROM KENYA AND

ETHIOPIA.

THEY CAN'T GROW IT THERE SO

THEY'RE SENDING THE MONEY BACK

INTO THE INTERNATIONAL

MARKETSES.

AND I REALIZED VERY CONVICTLY

THAT THIS WAS THE WAY TO A

PIRATES' HEART.

YOU BRING HIM BAGS OF KA'AT, YOU

NEED TO BRING BAGS OF THEM, CHEW

IT FOR HOURS IN A PICNIC-LIKE

SETTING...

(LAUGHTER).

>> Jon: I JUST HATE IT WHEN

ANTS (BLEEP) THE WHOLE THING UP.

GO AHEAD.

>> I WAS TOLD WHEN I WAS TRYING

IT FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT IT

WOULD EITHER MAKE ME SEX CRAZED

OR RELAXED AND TALKATIVE.

I DON'T KNOW WHY THERE WAS SUCH

A DICHOTOMY BETWEEN THE TWO

EFFECTS.

(LAUGHTER)

BUT IT MADE ME RELAXED AND

TALKATIVE.

(LAUGHTER)

A LOT OF THE PIRATES IT ACTUALLY

REALLY MAKES THEM QUITE SEX

CRAZED.

>> Jon: YOU WOULD THINK THAT

SOMALI PIRATES WOULD BE MORE

RESPONSIBLE.

(LAUGHTER)

AND YET IT'S REALLY... IT'S A

GREAT READ AND THE FACT OF

MEETING YOU AND SEEING HOW YOUNG

YOU ARE AND ALL THAT DEPRESSES

THE HELL OUT OF ME.

(LAUGHTER)

BUT IT'S REALLY A GREAT PIECE OF

WORK AND THANK YOU FOR BEING ON

THE SHOW.

"THE PIRATES OF SOMALIA" IS

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