Monday, February 19, 2018

My BWee feelings


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Our national airline, beloved by many as BWee, was re-formed and became Caribbean Airlines. A few years ago, a humming bird replaced the pan and the words Caribbean Airlines were written large on the fuselage.

I still think of the airline as BWee but, however one thinks about it, I, like many Trinis, have feelings invested in the airline, like we have in a Curepe doubles, pan and mas, Phagwa and Hosay. So there was real pain to see the pictures of the split 737 aircraft lying mortally wounded after the crash in Guyana. The pain set me thinking about BWee and those thoughts led me on an introspective journey. It was a journey that took me through to the deep paradox of the Trini condition and I would like to share the output of that journey.

It was ironic that I heard about the crash upon landing in Miami while travelling on another airline two Saturdays ago. I was on another airline only because I could only reach Washington DC in one day's travel in time for a leisure appointment as part of the August holidays. The leisure appointment also had one predictable Trini element, to which I will come later.

That crash weekend was so crowded for me with the vital essence of Trinidad that it really set me thinking. The reason why I had to make Washington in a day was because I was privileged to be asked to save the date for a party the night before I travelled; and what a party it was. The hosts threw in Denyse Plummer and a gut boiling tassa side that induced all the nostalgia of Nah Leaving the sweet side of Trini life, especially the camaraderie of a house party, which warm Trini hosts can produce so very well.

And is a next Trini thing that persons who are strangers at home become near instant intimates during chance meetings abroad in order to share the latest news, as did two gentlemen with us in the cabin upon landing, in respect of the Guyana crash, received via their electronic messaging, switched on at that time when the whole plane starts pinging and binging as passengers turn back on their phones.

Much later on that day, early night, to be accurate, came the next Trini ting, this the predictable element to which I have referred. I do not usually recount personal wandering in such detail, except in praise of pan so I hope the point of doing so on this occasion will be effectively made.

In Washington we joined close family, Johns Hopkins medical residents living in Baltimore, 45 minutes away from DC (like from town to Sando as they put it) for the leisure appointment, which made the four of us become part of 81,807 persons present at FedEx field to see Manchester United play Barcelona.

Yes, that is the correct number, announced at the game. Knowing that it would be big (but I did not reckon so huge) I was waiting to see whether it would be an occasion of Flugtag-type chaos. Suffice it to say that it took us an hour to get out of the car park but on a directed basis that gave every motorist a near equal chance at a turn to come out. After that it was relatively easy sailing because of the hands-on traffic management which was in place and which also protected the rights of persons living in the area who did not go to the match.

Now to the predictable event: Walking to the stadium I knew for sure that I must meet a Trini in the multitudes and we would know each other, at least by sight. It took longer than expected but leaving the ground I heard the call "Martin". Seeing the fellow Trini was like seeing a BWee sign after the alien and sometimes disdainful treatment of other airlines, which, for example, prevent you from using their business class airline lounge if you are travelling from "the islands".

And now to the paradox: We so nice but yet we losing we paradise. I consider a major cause of this our underdeveloped sense of personal responsibility and our inability, particularly that of leaders in all sectors, to accept accountability for anything. The Caribbean Airlines crash typifies this from all the reports I am reading. I am stunned that a top official should be quoted as saying not to blame the pilot, or the aircraft, or the airport venue and others are splitting words whether the plane split in half and whether the safety record is "intact".

I stress accountability because I cannot discern the rights and wrongs of the Moruga shootings or the Guyana crash but the survival of the society depends on full, frank and credible investigations, not the spinning of fantasies about who is hero and who is bandit.