Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Racism Increases

So, if there's one thing that traveling does, it really improves your opinions of stereotypes. Well, maybe improves is the wrong word, its more like... strengthens. First of all, Americans are pretty bad travelers. Now, I will grant you that Qatar is a vastly different "Middle East nation" than other ones, more urbane, more Western-ized. Nonetheless, it is still a Muslim nation, and a 14-year old girl parading around with her half-shirt and low-cut jeans is probably not appropriate. I was very tempted to make a comment to her father (her pedophile?) about the sensitivity he shows to other cultures.

Now, the thing is, Americans don't hold a candle to some other ethnic groups when traveling. The seventy year old Indian grandmother carrying her infant grandson is my case in point here. We get to Dulles, waiting for our luggage, and this whole family, including grandmother, just muscles their way to the front of the group. Not like there was even any luggage out yet, they just felt entitled, I guess. Not a problem, the only thing is, this grandmother (with infant in arms) just stands there as the luggage does start flowing. She's obviously not going to help out with pulling their bags off the carousel, but is just completely oblivious to everyone around her. Especially as others begin to swing their 50-60 lb bags off the carousel and bump into her (and again, her 1 year old grandchild). Now, I will highlight this general attitude with the other woman on the plane who, in direct contradiction to the pilot's direction, gets up while the plane is still taxiing to open an overhead bin and pull her personal bag out. (And promptly gets yelled at by the unbelieving stewardess). And, finally, the man who took up two complete overheads with his own luggage. On a four-hour domestic flight, that's annoying, but on a 15 hour international jaunt over the pond, having to put your bags underneath the seat in front of you, and cramping your leg room, is almost a health risk.

And, for the record, Qatar Air is the way to go for flying to and from the Middle East. All the movies are VOD (United just has a bunch of DVDs on a loop, so you have to wait for all of the videos to finish before you can watch the next one), and they have Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and Bollywood films in addition to the regular Western ones, plus a random selection of TV and VideoJug to watch.

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