Are the Diaspora part of an elitist travel club?

Submitted by Jeeraik009 on Tue, 02/13/2007 - 21:27

Travel really gives you a different perspective on life. I always find that when I am in transit, maybe sitting in an airport, or mid-flight that I have the most acute revelations about my own own life and my relationship to others. There's something about being in that space that provides you with a certain objectivity – perhaps a way of just stepping away from yourself and your circumstances and seeing yourself more clearly – at least this is what I have always thought. Recently, though, I've been re-evaluating the travel experience. I have been trying to determine how travel affects one's values and what are its advantage and disadvantages. This Xmas season, I made three significant journeys and somewhere of the middle of them all - in fact while I was in Heathrow airport - I began to observe my fellow travelers who like me, were on their way to Ethiopia. Many of the women were extremely glamorous, wearing fresh outfits that they had, no doubt, purchased during their travels, others were carrying duty free bags, and most carried themselves with a confident air that said 'I have been somewhere important'. It struck me, that despite differing classes, modes of dress and types of baggage, we all had this experience of travel in common. I began to consider whether one might begin to look at the world and its social classes, not in terms of a working class, middle class, or upper class, but rather in terms of traveling classes. Increasingly, it seems plausible that we might be able to divide the world into those who travel and those who are left behind – that is – those who are stable, secure, and perhaps culturally insular and those who are mobile, worldly or exposed. Is it possible that those who travel might be considered more cosmopolitan? Can we use the designations provided for us by the airlines such 'world traveler', club class, or premier class to begin to categorize the world, and if we begin to carve up society in these terms, where do we place those who never travel at all? Do they become a kind of underclass? Is there something in these designations that suggest that those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to travel have become an elite group in comparison to those who never leave there homes.? Is it possible that I know something they can never know because I have experienced a way of looking at myself and my culture from a distance? What does it mean to experience this kind of personal paradigm shift all in the space of a single journey and to what extent does this experience alter me in relationship to others? Of course all of this might just be the kind of mental gymnastics one engages in while waiting for a plane that's inevitably delayed, but I think somehow that they represent deeper questions that the worlds populations are increasingly having to face. In many post colonial societies, and Jamaica is a good example-, economies are shifting to welcome the return of its traveling residents and the remunerations, purchasing power, foreign exchange. pensions and goods that they return to the economy. Every effort is being made to accommodate this 'super' class of returning residents. Many have experienced a certain kind of social mobility, by virtue of their travel experience, their accents, their modernity. How do we re-position them in society?