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And now for something completely different.

[Dramatic music plays in tandem with a montage of pictures]

BEYOND THE HEDGE – News over the top.

Female Presenter: Welcome back. Now we move onto our weekly special segment; ‘Muggers, Buggers, and Tree huggers’.

[Cut into an advertisement]

Deep, sexy male voice: The start of ‘Muggers, Buggers, and tree huggers’ is brought to you by: Lose some stress, have some of the best – Golden Cup Blend. [Video sequence of Kumar Sangakkara thoroughly enjoying a piping hot cuppa Golden Cup followed by the trademark smile]

[Ominous music plays]

MUGGERS, BUGGERS, AND TREE HUGGERS

Male Presenter: After our last segment on the effect of human flatulence on daffodils, tulips and hydrangeas, toady we are going to talk about something completely different; a group of ingenious individuals who are deployed around inconspicuous areas of Colombo to swindle, cheat, and steal your money, and in some cases, your dignity as well. [Camera cuts into a different angle] Beyond the hedge takes a look into a little known, reprehensible, sickeningly deceitful, but positively fantastic group of slick crooks that we would like to call: ‘The Alms Giving Operation’.

[Video of Colombo plays]

Deep, sexy male voice over: ‘A land like no other’. The Board of Tourism of Sri Lanka should be given credit for inventing a religious catch phrase to market the island nation. It is attractive, catchy, and contrary to many marketing gimmicks; completely honest. Colombo is the quintessential South Asian cosmopolitan city where you see a montage of sights ranging from the ultra rich driving around in Ferrari’s and Hummer’s on roads with potholes big enough to accommodate Indian outsourcing companies, to the thick headed wannabe rap stars complete with bandana’s, bling, All-Stars, and sub-machine guns. It has a montage of colorful people from the smartest educators and the brightest talent to males who worship Mariah Carey and think Steven Segal is god’s gift to Hollywood. ‘A land like no other’.

[Camera cuts into a different angle]

Amongst the many things Colombo is, it is also the center for many a scrupulous, scheming mind, that will come up with the most inventive and imaginative methods to rob people of their money and possessions. Gone are the days where burglars broke into houses and stripped you off your Jewelry, DVD Players, and Tommy Hilfiger underwear. This is the age of the criminal marketer, the age of brain over brawn in crime; the guy who systematically cons you with a smile on his face and a pat on your tush. Much has been said about the instigators of this trend; The Sri Lankan Government, so Beyond the Hedge will deviate from that to focus on a scheme that seems to be in its initial stages. We believe it is something that every law abiding Sri Lankan should be aware of.

[Camera cuts into a different angle]

We would like to name this group of ingenious criminals with something original. The name ‘Sri Lanka Freedom Party’ was taken and the name ‘Mervyn Silva Foundation for Free Media’ didn’t sound right, neither was it remotely connected. So we decided to coin them with the name; ‘The Alms Giving Operation’. One might ask why the name ‘The Alms Giving Operation’. It is simply because this gang of crooks will come to you in the guise of someone unassuming and cheat you off your life if they wanted to. Beyond the Hedge spoke to a couple of people who were at the receiving end of this scam.

[Cut into an interview scene in the middle of a remotely crowded street where a person who looks like a government worker is being interviewed by Beyond the Hedge]

Interviewee: These guys aren’t your everyday criminals. They are a syndicate of organized crime, minus the violence of course. Because I’ve got to tell you, I wasn’t even touched the six times I got robbed. The most unlikely person will come and ask you for some money… In near PERFECT English too! And he’ll say that he’s out of cash and he needs to go to Kandy or Negombo or someplace and that he doesn’t have money. He’ll coolly push you to give about 60-70 Rupees and bugger off.

Interviewer: Sir you can’t use words like that…

Interviewee: Like what?

Interviewer: The ‘B’ word… We’re on Sri Lankan national television no… They don’t even show a cigarette being lit.

Interviewee: Ah OK OK… Sorry ah…

Interviewer: It’s OK. For my next question, how did you notice that this was some kind of scheme?

Interviewee: I got robbed six times didn’t I?

Interviewer: And where did you say you work for?

Interviewee: I work at the United National Party office in Kotte.

Interviewer: Probably explains why you didn’t notice you were being robbed under your very nose…

Interviewee: Hey! Are you trying to be funny with me?!? Ade, don’t say anything to the UNP ah! SB aiyata kiyala thoge kunu….

[Cut into a video of the suburbs of Colombo]


Deep, sexy male voice over: Their cover as stranded travelers is not their only guise. ‘The Alms Giving Operation’ has more of these robbers, with many more devious plans, under their cloak of deceit and trickery. The more experienced and talented recruits probably advance to a more skilled stage after their rookie days. And these are the thieves that everyone should keep an eye out for. Beyond the Hedge spoke to a person who will enlighten us with the incident that involved one of these ‘expert conscripts’.

[Cut into an interview scene in a quiet, park like environment]

Interviewee: I’m telling you, these guys are experts. Real experts ah… I went for a Rugger match one day and just as I entered the complex, this guy comes up to me and cries out; “Machaaan! How are you?” in Sinhala… I was kinda confused because I couldn’t recall where I had seen this guy before. And I have this knack for remembering faces also. So, he goes onto ask me about how my father and mother had been and stuff and it was as if he had known me since I came out of my mother’s… You know… Thing… And I didn’t know what to do, so I was playing along, and being the Sri Lankan I am, I didn’t want to even ask him… You know, who the hell he was… And so, this guy then tells me (in Sinhala): “Machan, maara scene no, I couldn’t tell you… My father died last week! Maara upset scene machan. It happened so fast, I’m sorry I couldn’t even tell your father also. My mother’s also full upset machan, she’s not doing so good. And tomorrow, I have to organize the 7th day Pirith and I’m kind of stuck for cash… Kolla, is it possible for you to give me some cash?”

And I was like, really hesitant you know… And I told him that I didn’t have cash, which was obviously a lie… But he was like: “Machan, fit eke, please, give me some cash” and I told him I didn’t have change, and he was like: “Ah OK… I’ll change and give it to you as soon as I get back. I’ll give you a ring when I’m back here again…” And he made off with 500 bucks of mine! I havn’t been suckered like this EVER!

Interviewer: So didn’t you notice that this person was trying to take your money?

Interviewee: Not at all! He was so damn convincing! He’d make a super actor!

Interviewer: Didn’t you figure out that you hadn’t ever seen this person before?

Interviewee: NO! He was sooooo convincing. Plus you tend to get very paranoid when you’re tripping you know… Oh, I forgot to mention that! Heh! I was kinda blitzed at the time. Ganja makes you…..

[Cut into the Male Presenter of Muggers, Buggers, and Tree Huggers]


Male Presenter: Violence is escalating, and by what we’ve seen now, so is theft. It is about time that the Sri Lankan people show some awareness to this theft that is happening under our very noses. What’s more, it is imperative that we nip ploys like this in the bud before we move onto tackling greater theft like those carried out by rouges like Kotelawela, Sakvithi, and the Governemnt. That concludes our episode of Muggers, Buggers, and Tree Huggers for this week. In next week’s segment, we will be taking an in-depth look into the link of Homosexual bodybuilders to male colon distortions. We hope you are now more aware, informed and ready to face the world tomorrow. Until we meet again.

[Cut into an advertisement]


Deep, sexy female voice over: The end of ‘Muggers, Buggers, and Tree Huggers’ was brought to you by: Building you dreams – Paranaloka Construction Company [Video sequence of Kumar Sangakkara in a construction helmet, putting the final touches to a construction followed a thumbs-up and the trademark smile]

KS

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