dimanche 4 novembre 2007
Globalization will not eradicate Prejudices
Competence, Efficiency and Education will!
Or Why we need Israel to train security agents worldwide.
Rainy end of October day. 0730 AM. Steady drizzle. Not intense but constant. Air France Cabin Stewards on strike. Do you know how the Airlines are making lots and lots of money? Pay the staff less and offer no services at all. Budget airlines with Budget salaries, Air France in its arrogance ignore their clients..Transatlantic traffic is its highest in years, but try to find a good fare or value for money!
Today by a stroke of luck, I am flying American Airlines AA, just seven days after arriving from Miami on Air France AF.
Radio announcer, while in the taxi: since 6 am, this morning, all flights of AF has been cancelled, since they are not sure who would show up for work. A friend who had a flight to Boston on AF had to take a bus overnight to London, stay at the airport until 5 pm to catch a flight to Boston. Ah Well..
A very competent taxi driver. Middle aged. French. Used his blue tooth telephone to contact the base and then took it off, to concentrate on the road, full of cars heading for Charles de Gaulle Airport CDG
40 minutes through the drizzle to CDG. Unlike younger drivers, no chatting on the phone, trying to save time and be safe, to get me on time for the flight to Miami MIA. Thank You.
The worst ones are of course in MIA, fresh out of the boat immigrants, less conversant with the local geography and language (which is Spanish rather than the star spangled English), more than once I had to give directions to the taxi drivers, to common place addresses such as 107 avenue. Don’t worry, hopefully I would help one of their children to get into medical school, such is the life in the Americas..
Bangladeshis in New York, Eritreans in Washington DC, Togolese in New Haven, Congolese in Bruxelles.. this great metaphor for displacement, and movement, as if they are constantly in motion. But not so in Argentina, where the locals are in a hurry to emigrate, but the taxi drivers are not displaced Bolivians, carton collecting Peruvians but Portenos who know their road well.
Bienvenidos a Miami y las Playas. Good Luck to you, Mate..
CDG is not an user friendly airport. By now I know the layout. AA has, like most other airlines, special security lines for its Elite Frequent Fliers, I stood behind 7 or 8 middle aged to older Europeans and Americans, men and women.
I looked at the two desks where the security checking was taking place.
My heart sank!
Two distinctly Tamil (generic term to describe a native of Southern India or Northern Sri Lanka, their faces etched with the millennial miscegenation with the indigenous tribal people of India) faces- possibly, immigrants from Pondicherry, Sri Lanka or Ile Maurice, they looked much more Sri Lankan to me, certainly not the French locally bred ( don’t mean colour or face, there are plenty of Tamils from Ile Reunion or Pondicherry who are very French)
And they were being Trained!
I overheard the young Tamil girl ask a Spanish couple, she was checking
Where were you last week?
What are your plans from Miami?
And she took a full 20 minutes to check, a well dressed Spanish middle aged businessman with an elegant wife, flying Business Class to the USA!
Where are the Israelis when we need them?
Her pair, the pre diabetic Tamil lady to her right, fared no better, if anything only worse.
She was in the process of interrogating a Japanese Businessman. Asking for papers and other identifications. Humiliating, if you ask me.
Then she interrogated a pink lady, an elderly French lady, whimsically dressed in pink, flying first class nevertheless.
The Line inches forward.
This is incompetency.
Check their frequent flier status. Check their profession. A middle aged Japanese businessman with a Platinum Card from JAL is no threat to George Bush. He is possibly rich enough to buy the entire township of Pondicherry!
I was behind a gay American, young with a musical instrument in case, we could only guess what it might be, stylishly dressed. He went to the young Tamil girl on the left, while the prediabetic one was still asking stupid questions of an American couple.
This line is a special line for people who are Frequent Fliers, not your once in a while fliers, and certainly no one has a name vaguely resembling Ahamed or Mohammed.
While I mentally prepared myself to be interviewed by the prediabetic Tamil faced lady, a third security desk arrived
I was next in line
Viola, she nods in my direction
A middle aged, French Lady, who looked as if she knew what is supposed to do
My heart felt light at her sight
Elated as I walked towards her, full of cheer and in a good mood.
Having escaped the constructed curiosity of people without curiosity.
Seven or eight relevant questions from the French lady
No more than five minutes
And I was through the security
I am a Platinum Elite FF on AA ( and also on Skyteam)
What does it mean to tell a recent immigrant from Ile Maurice about the dinner I had the previous night?
Is this an arrogant attitude? Is it victimization of helplessness? Is it racial profiling?
I have always had dark skin, the people I belong to call Israel home, my passport is from Australia and I serve the underserved and marginalized of the populations in the richer countries
I have never felt discriminated or marginalized, eventhough I could make a case for it..
For people grown up under gentler societies, a difference is understood of class, culture and poverty. American Indians do not identify themselves as Poor, nor with other “minorities” who are poor, because they do not consider themselves poor, materially may be, certainly not spiritually.
Of the many countries I have lived in or have had intimate associations, I would say the most racist has been Jamaica (the majority population of Blacks), and the legislated racist state of Malaysia.
All of us are only two to five generations removed from poverty and lower class upbringing, unless of course, you belong to one of the other ancient civilizations: Arab, Ottoman, Persian or Moghul….(all paradoxically Moslem)
A little lesson in European Civilization, with Food as an example.
Cutlery is considered a metaphor for superior dining in the west. It is a recent import there. Knife was necessary but not used for eating. Fork was the main instrument of eating in the west, it seems to have been a Byzantine innovation, was introduced to England in the 17th century via Italy. ( did you know that Italian was the language Ottoman and Arabs used to communicate to the Infidels of the West, not French and certainly not English)The English word Fork comes from the Italian “forchetta”. No mention of “fork” in the plays of Shakespeare even though Ben Johnson mentions it in one of his plays, this new device to eat with. ( he died in 1637)
Compare this to the cultural wealth of Persia. Abu Ishaq or Bushaq, known as Bushaq i-at’ima, Bushaq of Foodstuffs (late 14th century or early 15th century Shiraz, Iran), a poet, dedicated most of his literary output to writing poems about food. Among his major works, Kanz-al-ishtiha or Treasure of apetite.
There you are..
So the sigh of relief of seeing a middle aged, competent, French security agent at CDG line for Platinum Frequent Fliers cant be a blind adoration of the culture she belongs to, symbolically or metaphorically,
A sense that her efficiency would be helped by her relevance of her life to the career she has chosen.
Comparing to the professionalism of Israeli security agents, on a recent flight to Tel Aviv, all of them young Israelis, men and women, post military service obviously educated. And this was not at TLV airport but at the El Al check in counter at CDG. Cultural Congruence and cultural relevance.
Globalization is giving rise to a Fraud, seeping into our lives, poisoning us slowly.
Made in China has more meaning now, Thai, Japanese, cuisines offered by Chinese immigrants ( also Korean immigrants) in Paris.
(I am writing this as this AA flight is taking off, most of the AF planes are on the ground, it is still drizzling)
Hotel receptionists at fashionable chains, unaware of the local geography much like the Haitian taxi drivers in Miami, in Bruxelles, in answer to a general enquiry, I was told: Sorry, I am not from here. Honest but not helpful.
Then there is wholesale Mimicry, young IT men and women, becoming rounder as they abandon saris for Jeans, marching towards their early deaths, eating with forks and knife , wasting their newly found buying power at KFC’s, McDOs!
I met a Bengali recently, mentioned to him, some well known writers in English from his subcontinent: Ghosh, Mishra, Tejpal. He was unaware of any of them, but strangely enough he has heard of Indian writers who have made a name for themselves in the west, like the Bengali Indian, Jhumpa Lahiri.
Girls/Boys, immature beyond their years, in Malaysia and Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in the Far East (the Japanese like to have flings with foreigners but prefer Japanese partners for themselves when they choose one), looking at laisons with westerners as an escape from their intellectual and emotional poverty
1104am Paris Time. AA 63 takes off . 6 04 am in Miami (yet to change the time). Constant Drizzle accompanying as the ageing aircraft 767-200 lifts orr
Every single seat is taken.
I would like to see the English being English ( there are no Black English, only Black British). This does not negate the benefits of a million poles coming into England in the last few years. Europe needs 20 million educated people, as immigrants- from within and outside the European Union.
Every one is envious of Australia’s record of attracting quality immigrants, it is because Austalia since 1966 has had an immigration policy based on what is needed in Austalia rather than the dicatates of whimpy politicians or right of the spoon politicians pandering to the agricultural and political interests. Australia has the highest rate of qualified immigrants. Europe and America, for the sake of political correctedness, has attracted immigrants, perhaps not all of them well suited for the economy of their present day industrialization.
Despite the fact that I have lived in 8 different countries, I have never migrated anywhere. I have chosen well: Israel for emotions, Australia for legality, as far as my nationalities are concerned.
Now learning to liven France!
Another Decade, Another language…
Perhaps that is why I have strong attractions to the countries which have strong native identities: Cuba, a strong political and cultural identity and Myanmar, a stong religious identity.
No McDOs, No KFCs, Best Buy, Quick etc etc in either country.
Is it a mere coincidence that both countries are subjected to Sanctions and Embargo by the USA?
Is it a good thing after all, being boycotted by USA
Visit them, before they visit you..
We have to stop thinking in terms from the past: skin colour, cultural origins are no longer handicaps if you don’t want them to be, or give the other a chance to do so.
My Father, Olah Ha Shalom, once said to me, quoting Chou En Lai: for us to get ahead, all of us must get ahead together.
South Africa rencently gained the Rugby 2007 title. Not a single player was Black. Everyone rejoiced except the Politicians, Mbeki, and the Sports Minister who said: this is a country of blacks, 80 %, so there should be positive racial quotas in sport..
This is al-Qaida kind of militancy. We cannot regain the Moslem grandeur of the Past, but the future is before us to plan and bring into being our dreams of what was lost and what is possible. All of us are capable, in culturally superior ways of each of us, to achieve but it is up to us, as individuals to find strength in that culture, by first of realizing what is the true culture, rather than cultivating on e in some one elses image. Build more ovals at Black schools, Mr Black Mbeki, bring education to the Black children, along with sports, so that they can excel in computer as well as Cricket. So that in the 2020 Rugby games, an all black S A team can hope to defeat the allblacks of Aotearoa..
Where did I begin?
Where have I ended up?
10 minutes into this 9h30 minutes flight to MIA. AA Lounge at CDG is a sham, compared to the Virgin Lounge at LHR (the best I have seen) or the AF lounges at CDG( the French do it in style)
The Virgin Lounge had full service breakfast, a bistro, where you could have salmon fume.
AF lounges at CDG have multiple magazines on all subjects, champagne flowing freely
AA Lounge at CDG had Frito Lay chips and USA Today.
But the boarding process was smooth and I look forward to the company of my sister in Miami. I might even get something nice to eat which I am not expecting on this flight, AA 63.. Alors!
Today is 29th October 2007
Tomorrow fly into Omaha and then on to South Dakota
Miami, Denver and La Habana
I would have the pleasure of other “tamil” security agents in Miami, Houston and Paris and elsewhere..
I have always welcomed the security inspections at La Habana. They are much better at it … Experience I suppose. Not as good as Israelis. For whom security is life, rather than a career..
Mazeltov to my Brother Ricardo
Mazeltov to Shimon and Avital..
Arrived MIAMI 3 20 pm. Got out of the plane at 3 25 pm. Cleared immigration 330. 340 was already on the AVIS bus taking me to pick up my Rental Car..
As suspected, sister Jackie furnished Jamaican Curry, Chicken and Rice, Peas and Pappadams and fresh Lemonade.