June 12, 2006

Off the mark

So here I am, writing in the middle of the night when I would much rather be sleeping. Unfortunately, a scheduled flight to Chicago yesterday was cancelled, and thus I am now awaiting an early-morning flight which will just kill my sleeping schedule, and reduce my chances of staying awake at a Monday 8:00am meeting to zilch. I need to be at the airport at 4am, to arrive in Chicago by 7:15am.

Prior to the official cancellation of the flight, I waited patiently in the airport after a fairly lengthy security process. It's frustrating that I'll probably need to do this all over again because of the cancellation.

This will be my first time flying into the United States since 1999; much has changed since then. American Security had a field day going through my passport. I was asked many questions about my time in Saudi Arabia (lots of Arabic Hajj-related stickers in my passport); and when I affirmed that I had been to Pakistan within the last five years, the furrowed brow of the security lady was a sight to behold. I turned over all the papers I had that confirmed my business in United States, and finally the lady was satisfied.

Last week, I was the emcee at the annual graduation dinner for all the Muslim students in colleges and universities in the Capital Region. The keynote speaker was Maher Arar, whose story continues to worry me. With no evidence or charge against him, the man lost more than a year of his life to excrutiating torture, and his future will always be tainted by the nightmarish memories. His mistake was only being in the wrong place at the wrong time; a victim of wayward fire. The shots fired in the name of security have often missed their mark, targetting people with nothing but irrelevance to share; I always fear that another may be caught in the crossfire.

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