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mercredi 26 octobre 2011

Learn to Love your Brothers and Sisters.. they are everywhere

One of the images burnt in my memory is that of an Israeli soldier carrying an elderly Ethiopian Jewish woman, during the clandestine airlifting of 10 000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. He was asked, Is she heavy? No, she is not heavy because she is my relative!
reflecting the brotherly feelings echoed during the Hippie Era: He aint heavy, he is my brother...

In the last ten days, I have been in some major International airports: Newark, Toronto, Amsterdam, London Heathrow (2) and Paris CDG (2). A anthropologist would note that regardless of the country, the faces of the people serving you whether directing you to a line or checking your luggage or at the security...they were from somewhere else..
Just think of it, 200 million people live outside the country of their birth. Yesterday I left Paris, I saw an african at the airport and when i arrived in London there was another african... colonialists have divided them since these two brothers cant communicate with each other, even though we might assume they are brothers. In one day alone: a persian ticket agent, a surinamese lady, a cleaning lady from indonesia, a refugee from sri lanka, a shopkeeper from Uganda from Idi Amin's time...
The lounges at Heathrow are full of young women from Poland, the taxi drivers in Washington are Ethiopian, Somalis clean the floors of Minneapolis airport, Cubans make coffee in Miami... In front of the house I saw an older man directing school traffic and he was friendly to me, he spoke with a heavy french accent, I asked him where you are from, he said, Madagascar!!! We can no longer look at a person and think that he is from India or China or Congo, the answer might surprise you..

Treat each and every one of these people who are making coffee for you, cleaning the hotel rooms, or at the front desk like Aung at the Comfort Inn in Heathrow who is from Burma.. the list is endless..

The homogenous people are the ones who are sitting in this Airline Club in Washington DC or the people in the front cabins of the Aircrafts..

Our brothers from Asia and Africa are yet to arrive there but i look forward to the time when instead of avoiding eye contact with my seat mate (as I did today on my flight from Paris to Washington), I can grin and ask: where are you from?
I would hear the laughter of waterfalls and the distant sceneries in their eyes..

They too have arrived in this world, to this western man's world, it just took them a little longer because the path was more tortuous for them, like the journey of the Sri Lankan refugee who helped with my telephone yesterday at a London store
He left Jaffna in 2006, for four years he was in various gulf states, dubai, abu dhabi and muscat; and then somehow ended up in Zambia and finally to the UK..I imagined the psychological and physical difficulties this young man must have gone through..

In the not too distant future, when I am flying to Europe on seat 4 D, I expect to see someone like him and I would grin from ear to ear and say, Welcome and have a nice flight..