Make Your Escape



Throughout history, if you were a young person in search of a better life, immigrating was, well, a bit difficult. For example, in the cave days:

URGH: It stinks here. Me want to leave. How do I go?

OLD URGH: You must travel past sabre-tooth tigers, over vast ice fields and through big stomping, squishing, mammoth herd.

URGH: Then where?

OLD URGH: Dunno. Nobody made it past big stomping, squishing mammoth herd yet.

It wasn't much better in the Middle Ages, as the cartography was still lacking and people didn't have much freedom:

ETHELBERT: Hark! But it stinketh here. We should leave. Showeth me the map we stole from Lord Hrothgar. What doth it say is to the north?

LEOFRIC: 'Here there be dragons.'

ETHELBERT: Argh! And to the south?

LEOFRIC: It says, 'There be dragons here too.'

ETHELBERT: Fie! What of the east?

LEOFRIC: It says, “Guess what! More dragons!”

ETHELBERT: Oh for crying out loudeth. And to the west?

LEOFRIC: Um, it says, “Me thinks thou should be out tending to your liege Lord's field, no?”

ETHELBERT: Phooey.

LEOFRIC: Aye.

In the 21st century maps are far more accurate — for instance, terms like 'here there be dragons' has been replaced with coordinates like 38N and 77W. However, border controls are much tighter — hence this week's tale of the Moldovan Underwater Hockey team.

According to a news story sent to me by an online fan, apparently a group of Moldovans entered Canada claiming to be a championship underwater hockey team. They have since vanished.

I can guess what you're thinking. You believe that:

A) Clearly, Canadians are genetically incapable of saying no to any visa application that has the word 'hockey' in it.

B) The Moldovans have not vanished but simply become lost in the snow in Newfoundland. They'll be found again when it thaws (approximately mid-August).

C) I made this news story up.

Amazingly, this story is not fiction and Canadian officials are not as gullible as you would at first think. That's because there really is a sport called underwater hockey and in fact, its supporters aspire to Olympic recognition.

Little is known about this obscure sport, but I have managed to dig out a few facts for you. It is played with two teams of six players each, wearing nothing but swimsuits, flippers and snorkels. The game is played by passing a puck along the pool floor with short sticks. It was not started by hockey starved Canadians desperate to make use of melted hockey rinks in that mid-August thaw.

Championship tournaments have been going on since at least the early 80s, and since the game is played underwater, the action is slow enough for even Fox TV viewers to follow without the aid of glowing puck graphics. While ice hockey has penalties for things like roughing, slashing and icing, underwater hockey presumably has penalties for goggle snapping, splashing and snorkel corking.

Fans say that the sport is safe and great aerobic exercise. The only drawback is that the players wrinkle like prunes for days after practice.

So, any Canadian border official checking the Moldovan story wouldn't have undue concern about the sport claim. What should have been a tip-off, however, was the fact that the Moldovans had claimed to have been training in … Egypt … a country with a proud history of not having much in the way of aquatic sports. Or having much in the way of aqua either.

And of course, the team's nationality should have been a clue.

If they had wanted to claim they were water sport champions, they should have said they were Finns.

To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.

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