19 Aug 2009

The Trini attitude

THE EDITOR: Please refer to your Saturday August 15, 2009 issue and the letter with the bold headline "Some good Passport Office news" by Ms Thompson-Ahye. I write because, and I hope you print this letter in its entirety, I want to juxtapose my experience with that of Thompson-Ahye.

I read her letter and wondered if there is some other passport office in another Port-of-Spain existing in an unknown dimension. Now let me tell you of my experience. I attended the passport office on Frederick Street and after pushing my way through the crowd at the entrance, there being no signs or directions, I found myself in front of a clerk/officer by sheer accident. The reception was indifferent and surly. I had an 8 am appointment. I was given a number and told to go "siddong on de red chairs an dem". Well the red chairs an dem were fully occupied so I sat, I must admit timidly, on the blue chairs in the next section. Every now and then a clerk/officer appeared out of nowhere, mumbled a number. In between usually a male voice would announce on a disturbed microphone a name or number. No one was told what to do or where to go. A booth number announced was the only other advice.

Eventually my number was called. Thank God it was not a divine call or number. The booth number was also announced. I went to the booth where an officer was still interviewing another hapless soul. I was told to stand outside the booth. Who tell me to stand there. The little gyul of an officer strode out from behind her empty desk all five-foot tall. "You cyar stand dere. Move. Go an siddong. Yo name go call." Well my name was called and fortunately I was sent to another booth. This officer was civil and appeared quite sick. She approved of my document and gave me a slip to go and pay for my new passport. I went to the cashier's cage in elation. I had arrived at 7 am it was now four hours later 11 am. The cashier took my slip and said wait for a few minutes. It was then that I noticed a line of people. Also waiting. After standing in line for nearly an hour we were told an audit had been taking place. An audit at 11 am with people waiting to pay!!!

I was then called to another booth where my picture was taken. But, believe it or not, you had to replicate your signature as it appeared on your application. Now you try to sign your name in the identical same handwriting, the officer apparently gave up. I was then told to come back in three months to collect the passport.

By now five hours had gone by and I went to the exit. Only to be yelled at by a uniformed policeman "you cyar stand dere, move from dere." Now this was the exit. The policeman was seated behind a tiny desk chatting down a nice chick. I wondered about marijuana, cocaine, guns and hidden ammunition.

I beat a hasty retreat. Incidentally I met a Senior Attorney when I arrived waiting to collect his passports. When I left he was still waiting.

I write because I am disturbed by the bovine impotent reaction of the 150-200 people assembled there. There was complete acceptance of the torture and suffering imposed by the asinine stupidity of the Ministry of National Security. It seems as if the population has been conditioned to accept failure and mediocrity as the norm. Every aspect of our daily existence is in a mess and is met with apathy and indifference. Not even horrible murders affect us unless the media discovers that the victim is a white tourist.

This country is ripe for dictatorship. Patrick's National Movement has planned its strategy well and is on the road to total success. I wonder if COP or RamJackWin understand their impotence in upholding our constitution?

I am told this new MRP passport is already obsolete. A microchip passport is what is needed. So in five years time? God help us.

SURENDRANATH CAPILDEO

Port-of-Spain

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