Friday, May 30, 2008
“You have been chosen…” the famous words were spoken. Finally. To me. …the words that I’ve always waited for, in bated breath…when I took part in a competition or in a lucky draw ever since I was a toddler, waiting for the results of a dance, art or a singing competition. Never happened then – may be now is My moment!! He was tall, well-built and looked like someone in control. He stared at my boarding pass, looked at me, my photo-ID (US-issued…yay!!) again and nodded: ‘M’am the Airlines has chosen you…’…aa-papapp-shhhh---don’t say anymore, let me savour the moment – let me hold on to it – let me relish it for a while…pls!
What could it be? ‘Upgraded to the Business class?’ – hmm but that’s not happening coz I’m traveling in a 35-seater inter city American Eagle flight – difficult to stand straight – let alone business class! Seconds pass by – he opens his mouth to complete his sentence. Hold on my man! I search frantically – ahhh I know what it is! May be you wanna gift me a free airline ticket – aha! That sounds neat! Or some free gifts – I inhale in great satisfaction – you have no idea what few seconds can bring for you – utter joy to sheer disappointment. In those few seconds that ‘my good man’ took to complete his sentence, I experienced pure bliss.
“’Am all ready for you, my man – bring it on”, I smile.
He continues, “Ma’am the Airlines has chosen you TO GO THROUGH EXTRA SECURITY CHECK. PLEASE STEP ASIDE.”
What?!! Come Again!!! That’s not how the story was to unfold, this is not how one says ‘you browny step aside – wanna double check if you are carrying some weapons of mass destruction'! Nope that’s not how it's played out…ask me – I know. Heathrow – circa 2001 – one look from the security guard and I turn myself in for on-the-spot-frisking as my fellow non-browns walk by. I know this charade – I am quite comfortable with it by now. But…you don’t stop me and tell me ‘You’ve been chosen by the Airlines…’ no sir…no. You can’t raise my hopes like this and crush them – I want my free goodies.
But instead, I did step aside. Watching my personal belongings being examined, I decided it’s better to be generous than bitter and offered a cookie to the security person who was busy putting back my moisturizer into the zip lock. ‘No thanks ma’am. Pls don’t worry, it’s just a protocol.’ He tried to assure me. To tell you the truth, in fact I started to feel better – less disappointed. Since my personal belongings posed great threat to the ‘greatest nation on earth’ (oh that’s another story!), he chose to carry those himself – the 3 kilos laptop bag and an one kilo purse (‘am sorry, I generally carry my world in my purse, if you look hard enough you may find my salsa shoes in there too), I proudly glanced at the poor ‘unchosen’ ones – standing in the queue – carrying their bags and holding their jackets. A-h-a!
Then came the glass booth – holes on each wall – and I passed by it. I was not frisked by the security guard there but was taken to another isolated area where two ladies greeted me. Such beaming smile – am I in a spa I wondered! They explained to me that I need to stay calm (duh! What are you gonna do? Inject me with hallucinating drugs?!). So making me pose at different angles and using different devices they examined me and my bags. I spread my hands, then stood up straight, then sat down with my hands on my lap and then stretched my legs in kicking position. Midway into the inspection – the lady realized that she was not wearing her latex gloves. ‘I hope your hands were clean, lady’, I winked.
15 minutes since my fleeting self-assumed seconds of glory, I walked out of the security area – no more a threat to the society – being reassured by the airport staff again and again ‘Ma’am pls don’t worry. Did you change your flight? It often happens when you change your flights.’ She assured me. I in fact did had to reschedule my flight.
The world has changed. We live in precarious times. We inflict pain, we are pained too. For someone like me, when I face thorough inspection every time that I leave or enter my country while I watch at the same time people blessed with better skin color and citizenships are allowed to pass by with minimal questions, such charades in foreign lands do not matter much anymore. I just try – in every such situation – to look for some ‘fun’ in the experience. This time it was being the ‘Chosen one’.
at 3:29 AM