I imagine Boujemaa Razgui wishes that United had just broken his guitar. As much as that whole situation sucked and was shitty, it sounds much more pleasant than being out 13 irreplaceable handmade flutes because some dope at Customs in New York’s JFK airport mistook them for chunks of bamboo and had them destroyed.
In New York, he says, an official opened his luggage and found the 13 flutelike instruments — 11 nays and two kawalas. Razgui says he had made all of the instruments using hard-to-find reeds. “They said this is an agriculture item,” said Razgui, who was not present when his bag was opened. “I fly with them in and out all the time and this is the first time there has been a problem. This is my life.” When his baggage arrived in Boston, the instruments were gone. He was instead given a number to call. “They told me they were destroyed,” he says. “Nobody talked to me. They said I have to write a letter to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. This is horrible. I don’t know what to do. I’ve never written letters to people.”