Confessions of a “Tourrorist” in USA”
How my indiscriminate and careless shootings all around the US cities went un-noticed and I managed to make a clean escape back home!
Justuju / The Quest
Riyadh, Saturday, August 21, 2004
By Hashim Syed Mohammad Bin Qasim
I often talk about the current American mindset. Since the 9/11 tragedies, and the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security, this department has been taking its job so “seriously”, and getting far from realities, that at times it is becoming a laughingstock even in the US congress.
In addition to hundreds of travelers who have reported troubles in US domestic flights, recently at least two Democratic Party Representatives, Edward Kennedy from Massachusetts, and John Lewis, from Georgia, have been subjected to various types of silly questionings and humiliation at the airports. Apparently their names also appear on a nationwide air travelers watch-list. Some suggested in a humorous mood, that since the Kennedy Family is from Ireland, he could have been mistaken for an Irish Terrorist. It follows, then, that the Clintons (Irish roots) would also be on a similar watch-list. If the flamboyant ex President is bodily searched somewhere, at least Monika Lewinsky would feel a bit smug and satisfied. Representative John Lewis finally got some reprieve from this dumb listing database by adding his middle name initial R. So, the system is still under experimentation, and is not as reliable and intelligent as the designers thought it to be.
But, as so far only the Democrats are being stopped from traveling, it could be a part of the ruling GOP (Republicans) campaigners naughty schemes. They are also trying to belittle the Democratic Presidential Candidate, John Kerry, about his Vietnam war decorations and medals. Since John Kerry does not have access to Air force One yet, he is also subject to similar treatment from the Transport Security Administration (DOT) and the Homeland Security, as the senior and very well known and respected politician Edward Kennedy. Only that, being a valiant fighter, John Kerry could fight back.
During my trip to USA last year I carried on highly risky and indiscriminate shootings all over the USA. Luckily no one was fatally shot. And many of the people and sights captured by me finally managed to escape my clutches, as the digital camera got ruined on a rainy day in New York City. But still, many beautiful memories remained, that I carried back to Pakistan, and to Saudi Arabia.
However, only when a video maniac Pakistani was arrested by a vigilante type Policeman in Charlotte recently, I realized my foolhardy and the scale of the risks that I took, as a fearless Pakistani camera-slinger.
As I prepared to leave from Las Vegas to San Francisco, I helplessly looked at the professionally valuable Conference Materials, that I so much needed to take back to Saudi Arabia with me. With an overflowing suitcase, and my hand trolley refusing to budge any further, I put some of it in loose shopping bags, and rushed to the airport, looking more like a comic character, close to the Pink Panther.
Unaware of the check-in procedures at the airport, I tried to handover my luggage to an airport passenger assistance worker available at the roadside near the entrance. He was helping the arriving people, with their luggage. This black American, he amusingly looked at me, and decided that I am a suspect (A matter of using an “equal opportunity” rights to become a HERO, by “referring” a terrorist to the authorities ! ). He asked for my passport, and personally handed it over, with a sinister whisper, to the Ticket agents at the airline counter. My passport disappeared for some checks, now usual for most of the Asian and Middle Eastern travelers, and I had to wait for sometime before it re-appeared and I was allowed to travel. When I complained, the agents said, “Feel free to lodge your complaint. (We cannot care less!) Many are filed daily!” There was such a sense of no remorse or apology, that I felt a bit sad from that moment until now, when I learned about the predicaments of the US Senators (albeit Democrats so far!).
Then, I read about the suspicions thrusted upon that Poor Pakistani with a video camera, running loose all over the beautiful scenic sights of USA. My own adventures could be very close to that (I do hope, though, that he has no connections with any un-wanted activities), and could have easily turned in to serious misadventures.
There I am, under the Sears Tower, Chicago, a technically artful picture taken by myself, with the Sears Tower growing right out of my head or something like that. Then I am there, outside the Oprah Studio, the Holography Museum, near the competing Schooners anchored at the Chicago lake shores. Wandering in the Times Square, waiting outside the Canadian Embassy to get my visa application rejected. Resting in the little corners of busy airports, on board steaming ferries, riding the Long Island NY railroad, taking a peek at Long Island from the plane’s window. Then I am there in the Yosemite valley, shooting all over the mountains. Pretty faces, smiling and loving people. Everything has been shot, many times over.
Then, when I return to New York, a sudden rain burst damages my digital camera. So, the USA is saved! One could say …. Many pictures are simply wiped off.
When the US-UK aggression over Iraq started in 2003, the words like “Coalition of the Willing”, made me coin a new term: MAD COWS. Devastatingly Motivated Coalition of the Willing War Mongers. Now, once a carefree lot, the Asian tourists in USA face a high risk of being mistaken for a terrorist. So, may be a new term should emerge: “The Tourrorist”. An innocent person, who does not heed the US Homeland Security concerns, and keeps on merrily hopping around, shooting all over, using his lethal digital camera. Well, it can be lethal for the Tourrorist, if he is caught red handed, tortured well, and imprisoned long enough.
Mr. Hashim Syed Mohammad bin Qasim, based in Riyadh, is a Global Analyst, Writer, Researcher, Sociologist, and an Information and Communication Technology Consultant. In Riyadh, he also represents Online International News Network (OINN), Islamabad. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at email@example.com<>[end]