Wow! I finally get around to doing this. Finally I get to write in my very first blog. Where do I begin, what do I say? How can I add value? How do I live up to expectations after winning the Gold in Vegas last year? Before I really get into things, let me share with you some of my experiences when going to Vegas last year. I think I'll start off with a memorable quote of mine, the opening line in presentation, here goes... "IF I WIN GOLD HERE, THIS WILL BE THE FIRST TIME THAT A MUSLIM HAS WON ON AMERICAN SOIL......WITHOUT HAVING TO USE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION"
First up, one requires a Visa to get into the USA. I'm South African, to top it off, Muslim. With a name like, Zainool Abedeen Bux, it probably brings pictures of some dodgy terrorist in a cave somewhere. The first step in the process is the application for VISA. You then call some number after submitting your documents and get the 3rd degree telephonically. I swear to God, the only thing they didn't ask me was whether I "dab or wipe".
A-n-y-w-a-y-s, I go to the building where you get your VISA from. I get up to the front desk and immediately I have to look into a camera. The security guard takes me to the top floor and as I step out the elevator, I am greeted by a gigantic sign that read, "9/11 NEVER AGAIN!" another police officer is stationed outside the lift.
I step into line, I am greeted by name and surname and have to wait outside a pressurised glass walls etc. This must be the first major filter in the process. They go through my documents with a fine tooth comb. All the while, I am able to see into the offices that I need to enter but cannot enter until permission is given. Tick-tock-tick-tock... once they are satisfied that it IS me, I am then given permission to enter.
At this stage, bear in mind that I haven't even entered yet and already I feel like I'm going through customs. Okay, so I enter through the pressure locked, bullet, bomb proof glass doors. I am instructed to remove everything and place into a tray...I oblige. I am asked to take a small sip from the water I brought through.. then again...then again, again....until they were happy that it's not poison or something that can be used to create a bomb perhaps?? After I walk through the large X-RAY machine, after they swab all my stuff with an ear-bud and test it for God-knows-what I am given a file and asked to take a seat.
The chairs are in the middle of the room. There are many offices surrounding the chairs and the offices are elevated. We're on the 30th floor and the windows have thick jail-type burglar guards (I don't know, to stop anymore planes from flying through them or maybe some burglars who have been practising on Mt. Everest) All around you are American flags and American accents and for a brief moment, you forget that you are in your home country.
My name is called out over the PA system...it's pronounced incorrectly.Go the window, hand my stuff through, go sit back down. Wait a while, name is called again, go to another window, do finger prints, collect the file go sit down. Name is called out again, go to another window, hand the file in, give them some other stuff go sit back down. Name is called out again, for the first time I am let through a gate, lady asks me a few questions, take my picture by this time everyone and his dog has had a go at my documentation and knows why I am going to the states and probably knows me more intimately than I am comfortable with. After 2 hours of playing musical chairs and 20 questions, my Visa is approved. The funniest (and dumbest) question on the application form is, "Are you a terrorist [yes or no])" I'm sure terrorists all over the world are law abiding citizens and when posed with hard hitting questions like that, cannot resist the urge to tick yes?!
NOW bear in mind that I have missed out a LOT of detail... bear in mind the process you go through just to obtain a Visa. The day arrives and I get onto a plane from Johannesburg to Atlanta. On the plane to Atlanta, I notice another guy with a beard...obviously Muslim. I joke with him that we're both going to get stopped and cavity searched... we become friends (and still are to this day)
Get to Atlanta and BHAM! I am given a file with RED trimmings, told that it's "standard procedure" and asked to go to some other room....which just so happens to be pressure locked. As I enter the room... it looks full of Muslim people, specifically Pakistani...you can hear a pin drop I immediately break the tension in the air when I notice my "buddy" from the plane. In my loud and proud ass South African voice I said, "I TOLD YOU, I TOLD YOU THEY GONNA STOP US"
I'm sitting there thinking....I don't think that these American guys know how difficult it is to get a Visa to get into the USA, from South Africa. Eventually, my name is called. These guys are keepings a VERY straight and serious face. He asks me series of questions. I immediately notice one thing, South Africans and Americans have something in common : We're both highly competitive, we're both loud and we're both bold and fearless. I had an "answer" for every question, this must have been the most enjoyable interview yet for the American... they're probably so used to coming into contact with weak and meek afriad types and here I am, speaking like a one-man army. I say to the guy, "couldn't you make it less obvious? I saw a guy handed a file with YELLOW trimmings but the one I got had RED trimmings.Maye next time make it LIGHT GREY and DARK GREY to make it less conspicous."He calls over a colleague because he's almost in disbelief that I am taking the "situation" THIS lightly. He eventually says, "You sho have a lot of spunk" to which I reply, "and you sure have a lot of lard" He finally laughed, they returned my stuff and on to Nevada I left. Missed my flight, lost my luggage, GOD BLESS AMERICA! Landed in Vegas and WOW! From there on, Americans are very friendly, warm people that don't really hold onto the notion that everyone coming in has a terrorist agenda.
Publish Date: July 25, 2010 12:16 PM