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So, you think travelling is always fun, eh!

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Ever since 9/11, travelling became really difficult. The numerous restrictions put in place in its aftermath were understandable, but frustrating. I really had it once when I was asked to take off my pair of sandals, but unknown to me then, was able to get through with a knife in my carry-on. It has grown progressively worse. Did I say progressively? It is as if now the airlines have waged a war on their customers. Not only are there ridiculous restrictions on luggage – 50 lbs, even when some bags alone weigh perhaps as much as 10 lbs.{{more}} Meals have become a ‘No, No’, and you are encouraged to buy items that look like distant cousins of sandwiches, made by alien people. Then, when the idea of having to pay for all your luggage arose, I felt that they dare not do that. But they did it and we have accepted it. Don’t try that, LIAT!

My recent flight from SVG to Trinidad, through Barbados to make a connection to Toronto, revived my frustrations and feeling of overkill. Why do you, after having arrived in Barbados and been escorted by LIAT personnel for fifty yards from one LIAT plane, in view of everyone, to the in transit area at the LIAT gate, have to go through the same security checks you had thirty-five minutes earlier in SVG? My IPAD had to be opened and even a tissue I had in my shirt pocket had to be taken out. Then, next morning, a flight to Toronto by Caribbean Airlines. I like Caribbean Airlines, not only because you can still get a meal, but it seems to me just like family and the service is good. It dawned on me later that I missed by about ten days having to build in an extra day to go to Trinidad for a visa and probably to try to convince them that I was not going to claim refugee status or that I would not be travelling on a false passport.

Toronto, where I spent pleasant times in the past, was still enjoyable. A stay with my sister Marcelle, getting together with Aunts Enid and Doreatha and Doreatha’s daughter LaFleur and linking up with old friends – Raymond, Joey, Chester, Elroy Joseph and Dick from Devil Street. Then, connecting up with Geoff Edwards, a vet based in Mississaugua. Geoff and I are old school friends. We won scholarships to Grammar School in the same year and played on the same cricket team. We keep in touch and during my stay we were able to drive to Buffalo, enjoying pleasant scenery and seeing the many wineries set up in the area. I met with other family members, the Quows and Guyanese Lampkins. Then there is EB; much as I would like to, I cannot avoid him, whether in SVG or elsewhere. He always rehearses beforehand a heckle for me, which he is prepared to present publicly.

Many friends I was only able to contact by phone or was able to see only briefly. Then, a short visit to Venus Crichton, who always has a tasty meal ready. An evening at the home of my brother Peter, where I met a number of old students of mine: Sharon, Sonia and Maureen from the GHS, and from the Grammar School, Wayne Iton, Eggie Providence and LaVerne Baynes, now Fraser. I found time, however, to visit my alma mater, the University of Western Ontario in London, where I met one of my old professors, Ian Steele, an expert in British Imperial history, who really influenced my approach to history. The University of Western Ontario always appeared to have a business focus, so it was no surprise to see that they were putting down a new business school, estimated to cost CDN $100 million. I briefly mused about that kind of money being put towards our airport.

My trip to New York, having to pay for my luggage. What next? They might even be planning to charge you for your seat belt. In New York, I stayed with my Uncle Alban, known in Barrouallie as Promoter. He always has something organised. Went to the Flatbush/Carlton area, where Starlift was having a street concert on the Saturday before Labour Day. Their appearance a few days later at Friends of Crown Heights I was told was very impressive and well received. Then, on that same Saturday before Labour Day, following the Starlift concert, I paid a brief visit to a barbecue held at Standard Shippers on Clarendon Road, where I met a number of Vincentians whom I had not seen for a long time. Atiba Williams and I were able to make contact on the day before I left New York. On Labour Day I was in the company of Bernard and Clem Hewitt. Bernard is a good friend of my uncle, with whom he spends a lot of time discussing or rather arguing about cricket and baseball. At Eastern Parkway, I saw a disgraceful display by some Caribbean people, costumed in virtually nothing. I am not sure what they were advertising or who they were trying to impress, but I am surprised they were not arrested for indecency. If that is what Caribbean culture is all about, then we are lost. I will not be surprised if next year they impose certain restrictions on them.

Again, in Brooklyn I only had time for brief visits with many of my friends. Others I had to contact by phone. Some I was unable to contact at all. My Brooklyn visit coincided with the Democratic National Convention and I was pleased to see how involved Vincentians and other West Indians appeared to have been with the upcoming presidential elections. At Eastern Parkway on Labour Day, I saw a number of T-shirts marked Caribbean-Americans for Obama and some Brazilian Americans for Obama. On the day that Obama spoke, many persons were rushing home to hear the President. (Continued next week, with my visit to Texas and that dreadful return trip).

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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