Tuesday, March 24, 2009

(Un)welcome to America !

Today was the opening day at GDC 2009.

I arrived Sunday morning at 10:15.. but I had to spend at least one hour just in the immigration office.
Ever since I had to start travelling abroad (from Japan) again, I've been stopped and searched a few times in the US airports.

It's degrading.. one tries not to think about it.. but to be put in a room, waiting and being asked questions and being finger printed again and again.
I guess having lived in the America before, then out and then back travelling frequently again, has been raising a few "red flags" in the immigration system.
But it's not just me.. other people are constantly put aside and made wait, made lose their connection flight, questioned again and again.
I understand the need to keep the country safe.. but treating harmless and innocent people like that can be rather counterproductive.
Now I really don't want to come back even if it's for business.. and the time I'll have to spend here has been spoiled from the start... because of this reminder that I'm being let in with some sort of reserve, under suspicion..

It may sound like a stupid thing to worry about.. but it does get to you.. it makes people feel unwanted, it makes you feel a bit more like terrorists every time.
The problem with this country is that it creates its own problems indeed..  repressing more and more, continuously creating new enemies.. Hollywood does it's best to give a glorious view of the country, but the reality is much different.
I appreciate the many intelligent, dedicated and hard working people that live here.. but the fundamental culture is still very much one of repression and violence.
Also the materialism.. tips to be paid everywhere, poverty in the street.. the constant fear that if you don't have  enough credit cards you don't exist.

Every time I come back, I get reminded of why I like Japan so much.. with all its defects, I never had to beg to work and live in Japan.. I never had to show my wallet to get someone to help me.

I don't fit in this country and this country really doesn't seem to like me...  still, I'm not a terrorist.. kindly keep that in mind next time I have to come for business.. believe me.. I don't enjoy being treated like an intruder.