(Originally posted July 27, 2015)
In 2008, I was talking in person to Petra, one of the most famous Christian rock bands of all time. Are we talking about their music, their tour, or India? No. They are asking me for help. Someone is holding all their equipment for ransom. They can’t leave Aizawl, Mizoram, India until they pay all the money one of the suppliers for their concert is owed. The thing is, it’s not their responsibility. The concert promoter who was organizing this tour through NorthEast India owed all kinds of money. Petra was caught in the middle. They were getting more serious threats than just having all their equipment stolen.
(Sigh) It’s the night before I’m supposed to fly to Calcutta and start negotiating and organizing for a big shipment of food to be sent from Canada to Mizoram. This is for the starving people of south Mizoram villages. They are in the middle of a famine. The last thing I need to be worried about, is guitars and amps. Okay. Let me make a phone call. After a couple hours, a small payment gets made and the potential thieves get convinced they have no legal right to Petra’s guitars, drums, etc. So the trucks leave and head up the road. I go to bed.
When I wake up, I start getting ready to go to the airport. I find out that overnight, that these yahoos contacted their “uncle” in the police. He impounded everything up in Kolasib. Now the Petra band members don’t know what to do. They’re probably going to miss their flights because they just happen to be flying the same time as me. They can’t leave all this behind. Now, I’m mad. I’m embarrassed as a Mizo makpa. The thieves are making my favourite place on Earth look terrible. I’m just imagining Petra going on their fan website and telling the whole world, “Don’t ever visit Mizoram!”
One thing was not going to happen that day. No one was going to steal tens of thousands of dollars of instruments and equipment from Petra. Somebody’s police officer uncle in Kolasib isn’t going to keep you out of trouble. I just spent the last few days visiting the chief secretary, government ministers, YMA general secretary, church leaders and oh yeah, my father-in-law is a retired Deputy General of Police. Who do you want to put you in jail? I make a point of never using my “big connections” to benefit me, my family or my friends (sorry, my friends who have visited Mizoram with me). I don’t waste that on frivolous things. It better be REAL important. I figured the reputation of Mizoram was on the line, so I made phone calls to two people not on the list above. I told Petra to load their things for the airport.
Since I had to spend my time working the phones, all I had time to do was give handshakes to all the band members at the airport. I asked them to please don’t think badly about Mizoram. They were totally gracious and in a good humour (much better than me, but they never saw what I did down in the south). They thanked me for liberating their stuff out of Mizoram and we waved goodbye. They flew north. I flew west.
I will be totally honest with you. If I had missed my flight I would have had 24 hours to do nothing but press charges for theft, ride shotgun in police jeeps and watch people get marched off to jail. As it was, if Petra could forgive them, I guess I could forget about them. Besides, I had way bigger things to worry about.
For some fun, watch this classic Petra video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?