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August 7, 2006 | by  | in News |
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Team Magical Adventure: Debating Worlds

I’m sure you all heard about the earthquake that struck Jakarta during the Debating Worlds Tournament, leaving hundreds of debaters dead and thousands wounded. It was a black day for mankind. I had looked forward to the tournament, but the 58 days we spent trapped without food or water were a severe disappointment to say the least.

It began just like any debating tournament. We arrived at the conference room of the Hotel Ibis, met our opponents the Greek national team, and made boastful jokes as we waited for the adjudicator. Then the earthquake struck. I threw myself under the desk and latched on to Dashing Dave’s neck. The roof collapsed and the floor smashed up through the walls. We waited for the hellish thundering to subside. We had no power, no food, no space for ablutions and only one water cooler to share between six mouths.

At first it seemed pretty funny as we thought it would be only a short time before the emergency services got to us. No-one was injured apart from Dashing Dave who ot whiplash around his throat. Amelia Awesome had to go cold turkey on the valium and even just a few days without her pills meant she was up to some pretty funny shit. Then the paranoia set in. Team Greece kept to their side of the room and Team Magical Adventure kept to theirs. It was only days before our thoughts turned to cannibalism. Team Greece suggested it, but I was not sure. Was it ethical, given the circumstances, to eat one of our own so as to keep the others from dying of hunger?

We had a debate about it. I set up the debate, expressing my concerns as to the ethics of the situation. The first speaker of Team Greece asserted that ethics were subject to necessity, and that since our water source was almost depleted, we would soon need blood to slake our thirsts. Dave jabbered something about rape but from this I could tell he was getting pretty hungry. The second speaker of Team Greece rebutted that although cannibalism is frowned upon, it is largely a social convention dependent on cultural structures which themselves form around necessity. Amelia Awesome screamed and ripped the shirt from her bosom exposing her breasts. Third speaker for Team Greece reasserted the need for survivalist thinking, particularly in circumstances as dire as ours. The debate was marginal. I think we made some good points, but at the end of the day the rational and bland Team Greece carried the debate.

The only issue to be decided was who should be eaten. Naturally all eyes fell on me. I was the runtiest, and therefore would be the easiest to subdue, and yet was plump like a gooseberry. I argued with my teammates, saying this would give the Greeks superior numbers, but my points were dismissed. Dashing Dave gleefully rubbed his belly and Amelia Awesome was frothing at the mouth.

I ran. I wedged myself into a gap in the fallen roof but one arm and one leg were left exposed. What followed was definitely one of the most horrifying events of my debating career thus far. I was trapped in a hole as my own teammates savaged my exposed limbs like ravenous jackals tearing at rotisserie pork chops.

In the days after my arm and leg were eaten things got increasingly weird. The Greeks formed themselves into a band, wearing long masks of their own facial hair as they fashioned a rod with which to prod at me in my hole. Every so often a bare-chested Amelia Awesome would emerge to jabber at spirits and perform her crazed moon rituals. Dashing Dave kept to himself, snuffing out insects under rocks which he scoffed before bounding off into the darkness like a gazelle. My viewpoint from inside the wall gave me a detached perspective on these occurrences. I spent days and nights sucking at the moisture on the walls and reciting nursery rhymes to dull the pain and preserve my sanity. After a few days my wounds became infected.

Things looked pretty bleak for me, but my debating experience has taught me that even the worst situations can be turned around if you just keep your cool. This wisdom proved correct. It was only another eight weeks before the rescue squad chiseled their way through the asbestos overhang.

Two months without razors had turned the Greeks into pubic gorillas. They were brought down with tazers, and Amelia Awesome and Dashing Dave were reunited with their families. As for me, I had no family. All I could look forward to was the amputation of my gangrenous limbs.

Everything in life has pros and cons. The cons in this situation were that I 1) lost an arm and 2) a leg and 3) keep waking in hospital doped on morphine thinking I am still there. The pros were 1) a unique cultural experience and 2) during my days in Jakarta I had plenty of time to think. In the ups and downs of life you are bound to lose a limb or two along the way, and you don’t need all your limbs, or even your mental stability to keep debating: just a leg to prop you up on and an arm to flail wildly as you make your point. I may be out of commission for a while as I receive trauma counseling and learn how to walk again, but in the meantime, keep on with your debating, and until next time this is Really Richard signing out for Team Magical Adventure!

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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