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  • ivanildotrindade 1:41 am on June 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, bangkok, , , Incheon International Airport, news from outside the U.S., South Korea,   

    The News From Out There 

    I pick up the newspapers on the planes headed to SE Asia. I am always interested in what the rest of the world consider newsworthy. Looking at the world from other people’s viewpoints is always great.

    South Korea, for example, is always obsessed with their northern neighbor. One of the stories I read had to do with the North Koreans planting some viruses in some video games inside Seoul Incheon Airport. We in the U.S. perhaps have the luxury of going to bed without ever thinking whether we might be hit with an atomic bomb while we sleep, not so with people who live in South Korea, so they have to be ever so diligent, even with innocent cyber games at their main airport.

    From Thailand comes a story that is a sign of the times. Over the last two decades the percentage of young people working as farmers, specifically rice farming, has declined steadily. This worries some people because rice is one of the main exports of this country.

    According to the article, young people prefer moving into the big population centers like Bangkok, and they definitely would rather find a job that keeps them indoors, away from the sun (this is a culture that shuns darkened skin, to judge from all the commercials on T.V. lauding the powers of skin whitening products and all the fair skinned models exhibited on their big billboards), and they will do everything they can to avoid the back breaking job their parents and grandparents had to do to make a living. Plus, in this country, as opposed to Europe and the U.S., for example, farmers are seen as poor, dirty and stupid. Who wants to sign up for that?

    One thirty eight year old farmer in a small village, the oldest farmer in his entire village, lamented the disinterest on the part of the young people. He said, “It seems like the only thing they can do with their hands is hold a cell phone.” I don’t know why but I find that comment very funny. But there is a business opportunity here too — start opening those carpel tunnel surgery clinics! Video games and cell phones may not kill you, but they might disable you.

    So I am soon headed to Cambodia to deal with some tough assignments related to our G.R.O.W. home there. If you think of me and are able to pray, I would appreciate it.

    Perhaps the mechanization of farming will save the jasmine rice of Thailand. And teenagers will once again line up to be high-tech farmers — one hand on the computer and the other on the video games they love so much.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     

     

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  • ivanildotrindade 12:36 am on November 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bangkok, , chicago, , o'hare   

    Missing Thailand, loving America 

    Back in the U.S., specifically, Chicago, O’Hare, as soon as I stepped out of the immigration/customs area, I missed the restrooms at the airports in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Thailand. Frankly, some of the airports in Chicago are a shame. I thought for a moment I had landed in the wrong country.

    Don’t take me wrong, the U.S. is my adopted country and I appreciate so much the freedoms and opportunities I have here. I also see clearly how the U.S. is the leading country in so many areas, but what is up with those bathrooms welcoming people into this beautiful land that populates the dream of so many people the world over?

    I also have another bad story from O’Hare to add to my collection. In 2000, my entire family stood in line for five and a half hours trying to change a ticket on our way to Brazil. During that time, our daughter, Carolina, got the flu and we had to fight to get the airline to put us up in a hotel — 45 minutes away.

    This time we waited for 11 hours to get on a flight (we were on standby) because our original flight had been cancelled “due to weather.” The woman at the American Airline counter was not polite. She had originally put us on a 9:30 pm flight (this was before 8 am and we had just flown half way around the world). I told her that was totally unacceptable and she gave us the famous intimidating line, which works almost every time, “This is the best I can do for you and you have to step aside because there are a lot of other customers behind you.” That’s when you’re supposed to cave in and accept your fate.

    So she was somewhat surprised when I said, “I would like to speak to your supervisor.” Surprised? No, she was clearly annoyed and gave me the other famous look that means, “I will do that but it won’t do a thing…” The supervisor was totally calm and composed. He gave me the option of being put on stand by for the 5:30 pm flight. He said our luggage would be put on that flight regardless. He apologized for the inconvenience.

    Finally, I knew I was on American soil. The old American customer classy service was back. But the ironic thing is that both the employee and the supervisor were born outside the United States. Their heavy accent betrayed them.

    “Welcome to America!”

    By the way, as I write this, I see another example of what it means to live in America — a crowd is gathering on the campus of Penn State to protest the firing of Joe Paterno as head football coach. I am ashamed, given the horrendous nature of the alleged crimes, that the people were not there earlier, putting pressure on the school to fire this man. I don’t say that he is guilty of anything, but his close association with the man being accused of those horrible crimes should be enough to cause him to voluntarily go. I am so saddened by these events and have a lump on my throat, not for coach Paterno but for the victims. May God have mercy on them and their families.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     
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