My ebook: Journeys with the caterpillar

My ebook
Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
and Sumba, Indonesia
" is available at
this link

Monday, March 12, 2007

Before the might of Immigration officials

Hei ho, there comes the immigration counter. And the heart of an Indian throbs. An Indian passport means that the holder needs to get a VISA for most countries in the world. But even after going through the arduous process of getting a VISA, an Indian is never quite sure till he has crossed the immigration gate. As for me, I have been taken for special immigration scrutiny at Malaysia, Singapore and of course, the USA. At USA, I have been held up for hours as one guy took the paper slip for holder’s signature in the front page of Indian passports for a crude masking tape. At South Korea, I was questioned on the authenticity of not only my Korean VISA but also the other VISAs stamped on my passport. I found even emigrating difficult in Cambodia where the official was hinting me to bribe him to allow my departure, he even suggested that I travel 200 miles to get my passport stamped at my point of entry.

So now I get the jitters whenever I am standing in front of the immigration line. How does one prove to a stern looking official that I am I, especially after a tortuous trans-Atlantic flight? I pre-plan. At the counter, my voice will be modulated to show copious amount of respect for the Immigration official, with just the right amount of lack of confidence thrown in to prove that he is the master of the moment. My composure at the counter shows my willingness to obey any official dictate. I am carrying in my bag as many relevant documents as I can pack in my bag to prove my case for entering his country: printouts of my company’s website, Google earth maps of my permanent address, my preserved placenta, certificates of awards I got at kindergarten, etc. I understand that while he has all the privilege to be unaware of the systems of my country, I have an obligation to memorize even bills being debated in his country. Therefore, I have already learnt Hello and Thank you in his native language. I am humming the first few notes of his country’s national song as he flips through the pages of my passport. I realize that he has the full right to ask me questions like why my father's name has more syllables than mine and I pre-prepare answers for them. Immediately, I get my motor cortex to twist my lips into that fake smile to show that I have flown many doves for global peace.

And when I hear the sound of loud stamping, behind that great desk at the immigration counter that seem to hold back all the secrets of life, I know how Buddha felt in the shade of the Nirvana tree. Viva Immigration officials, there was my mother who let me out into this world, and then there are you who let me in.


Anonymous said...

Hear Hear~! Immigration is one of the few agencies worldwide which commands such complete control over you once you are within their range~!

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