Yesterday I went to the National Stadium (known to me as Galolhu Grounds) for the match between New Radiant and Maziya in the first round of Dhiraagu Dhivehi League 2012. When the first half finished, I came out of the stadium to buy a soft drink and something to eat.
When I went in I had the bottle of water which I bought from the corner shop just beside the stadium, in my hand. When I handed the ticket to the guard at the entrance he told me that I could not take the bottle of water into the stadium. It was not allowed.
There are spectators who will be in the stadium for almost two hours; those who do not come out during half time. I just realized how much one has to sacrifice to watch a a football match in Maldives.
It is also an indication of how the decision makers in the country think. It is a culture that I have experienced on various occasions when I have been compelled to avail of public or government service. A culture of complete arrogance and a lack of empathy by authorities. It does not surprise me because the tradition of authority in the country descends from a monarchy intolerant of its subjects for anything but pleasing the Sultan or the Queen.
I was only appalled by the association of Dhiraagu with an event with such low and sub-human practices. It is a more socially responsible corporate citizen in the country and to find that they would have overlooked such a simple basic human right. The right to drinking water.
And I wondered what a 500ml bottle of drinking water packed in a PET bottle could do. The guard did not worry that I may have had a knife under my belt or a patrol bomb in a pocket of my trousers.
My experience yesterday is not unique. It is a typical mentality of people who get into positions of power in the Maldives. They have a control-mindset, and a fear of ordinary people. They will do anything and everything to keep the people at a distance and strip the ordinary people of everything that they fear. And they fear the tiniest possibility to respond.
I am sure there will be a day in the Maldives, when people will be charged a fee for watching Dhivehi League matches at home, and no one will be allowed into the stadium for fear of attacking the players in the game. That of course will be our fate when we allow ourselves to be ruled and led by people full of fear.
However frustrated I was, I finished the bottle of water and went in to see the match, which New Radiant won, of course.