It’s one of those weeks when I feel like asking my editor for timeout – one gets so mentally tired in this land at times – but no, I have a fine 17-year old record to uphold.
Then my cousin-in-law called to tell me that he had returned safely to Brooklyn (NY) from Bourda (GT). But his comments prompted this piece.
Frequent flyers, expect perhaps the high state officials and “extreme executives,” would agree that aeroplane travel offers no fun or comfort these days. Carriers to and from as well as any aircraft associated with the USA, attract absolute stress and humbug at airports. American anti-terrorist security measures invade privacy, cause upset and make honest travellers wish they had real private ports of entry and exit. I appreciate, mind you, the valid reasons for the absolute security and screening measures but oh, it’s the stress levels I write about. Take our Guyanese-American Flying Home.
Yes this traveller was born in Guyana. He migrated legitimately fifteen years ago to Uncle Sam (US).
He is one of hundreds of thousands in the Guyanese Diaspora domiciled outside his home country’s borders. He happily boasts of “being a born-Guyanese who loves Guyana”. From afar. Diverse circumstances forced him to migrate but his place of birth and his “love” of country secures him always the full first-class status of Guyanese.
The USA is the country too many of the world’s people love to hate. Oh but those same folks treasure three American things: their official documented (alien) immigrant status or paper citizenship, their blue American passport and their priceless American dollars. Get and keep those and our Guyanese are Americans! I understand. I like America. From Guyana where I hope to end life and lie buried or burnt when death beckons.
Obviously, most Guyanese fly to their destinations even though it’s possible to trek or sail to places. But modern travellers can’t use the “adventurer options”. However, Guyana’s geographical location, its economic status and market population determine that the international aviation and airline industry grants the destination very few carriers.
It has to be true that the Guyanese airline traveller pays much more than others because of the limited flying options. And where is “home?”.
“Home is where the heart is,” many Guyana-loving citizens chant. My Guyanese-American however, makes his daily home in America while his heart also resides in a body living in the adopted homeland. My point is that too many pretend to call this place-of-birth “home”, but know that it will-or might – only become their real home only in the twilight of their last years. I’m not blaming then, but please don’t fool me.
The foreign airports
Guyanese or American, or both, the Guyana-born traveller has lots to cope with. My cousin related some of his fellow flyers’ travails recently. The Trinidadians dared to search Guyanese on a plane whilst intransit at Port-of-Spain. The Trinis seem to love to search Guyanese travellers repeatedly, claiming “American requirements”. And we know the Barbadian experiences, Caricom or not.
The American Customs threw away a Guyanese-American’s cook-up-rice because it had meat in it! (Serves him right for not cooking it right in New York – as I do for my hosts when visiting there.)
I used to tell American officials that Guyanese, after going through consular heartaches to acquire their visas, merely want to work hard in the US; they never think of “blowing up any American thing like those who obtain visas and permits more easily”. Ha? Now Guyanese are accused of plotting to blow up portions of New York’s JFK Airport. I keep my peace now.
The Guyana destination excites the US Customs and Immigration instincts, it seems. First terrorism, now cocaine! I always reveal that I can’t discern marijuana from fine-leaf thyme, or cocaine from baking soda. Yet I get queasy at American airports with Guyana passport still proudly in hand, when I contemplate subtle or open American profiling of the Guyanese traveller.
That, I suppose, is the point of all the above: that one of Guyana’s social tragedies today is how we are perceived by too many international officials – whether we are genuine pastors or government ministers. Who caused that!?
Remember these issues?
There are scores of issues of national significance that seem to get put on pause. Some also just disappear from public scrutiny and consciousness. Many court cases languish for varied reasons. After public outcry and outrage, because of scandal, thievery or shock, too many issues die their own (orchestrated) death.
Recall these few and find out their status: who shot Mrs Van Beek and why? What about the court case against the former Brigadier (rtd) McLean and Ms Ramlall? The Sacred Heart fire insurance matter? The alleged Kwame McKoy scandal? The Cubana Disaster monument? What became of the very obviously beaten and injured victim in the court case withdrawn against a prominent neurologist?
Now, you write down ten more you’d like to know about. In the public interest.
*1) May 5 is Arrival Day, not Indian Arrival Day.
*2) Arrival, Presence, Dominance – the East Indians surely arrived. Today their descendants’ presence is significant here – in parliament, government, village councils, commerce, industry, the professions, the construction and auto industries, agriculture, sport; need I continue? Presence has become dominance. Discuss.
*3) The St Lucians have quietly apologized! Guyana has the accommodation and the crowd support for any type of cricket tournament. Last Sunday in St Lucia there were hundreds of empty seats even as India, Pakistan, South Africa and Australia played! But then, St Lucians dominate the WICB hierarchy!
*4) I don’t mind the Caribbean atmosphere at the venues, but sometimes the professional musical groups overdo the din!
*5) Who will win? West Indies or Australia?
’Til Next Week!