I Couldn’t Blush This Time…
Recently I was travelling outside India in a Muslim majority country, for the first time in my travel history have I been forced to mention about a country based on religion because during this same time CAA-NRC protests were going on in India and there was news around the world about discrimination towards Muslims in India, so I was wondering if in case I face any trouble will I get help being a Hindu Punjabi from India( Maybe I was thinking too much but because I was asked those questions on my 6 day trip by non-Indian Muslim people who weren’t sounding too happy with India).
The true incident that follows is from what happened when I was coming back to India. I reached the airport well on time, I had checked in and I had cleared the immigration without any questions.
I was elated and I was waiting to go back home and eat finger-licking food cooked by my mother after struggling to find good Vegetarian food for 6 days in a foreign land.
I was calm and composed as far as the body language is concerned and happy within as far the feeling is concerned.
When I was walking towards the gate, I felt someone is following me and I looked back and it was a Police officer and uniform said Immigration Police. He said excuse me madam where are you going, I said to Gate no.10, trust me I was scared inside but I was smiling. What is your name, I said Sonia.
So what was the purpose of your visit, I enthusiastically mentioned the name of the most famous tourist places and a couple of beaches ( when I had not seen any of them but the country was known for them ) and names of female counselors I knew from work portrayed as friends with whom I traveled. He was sounding very serious and asked me what is the boarding time, I said 2:30 pm and he continued so you still have an hour. Are you married, he asked and very innocently I said the truth, No.
I thought I did a good job but what happened next I would not have ever imagined.
He said actually I thought you are an American( I know 100% that I very well look like an Indian/South Asian), he continued, I want to improve my English so can you give me your number and I will practice English while talking to you ( this is the most innovative pick-up line used at me). Any woman would agree with me that they know how beautiful they are by the standards of physical beauty set by the society ( forget this inner beauty shit for a while) and I know I look comfortably average especially because I am overweight.
I was amazed and felt a little betrayed of the mental level of government officials at work in this country, I looked around, there were two big CCTV cameras just in front of me and I said yes sure please take my number and he looked at the cameras and changed the topic.
I now knew this conversation has nothing to do with Immigration but I was still careful of not being rude to an Immigration officer, I just don’t know my mind kept telling me like always to not trust anyone.
He then asked who is your favourite Indian actor, I interrupted you are speaking such good English, I don’t think you need any help, he said, madam no I need help from a foreign friend who speaks English like you. I answered Shah Rukh Khan ( I loved SRK once upon a time but now I just said it to sound good as SRK is famous in the country I was in), he again posed a question who is your favourite actress ( I said Katrina Kaif even though I like Deepika Padukone more ), he looked impressed.
In this conversation of 4 minutes so far, he had X-rayed me multiple times from top to bottom and it was not a good feeling when you know you are being looked at all the places that should not be concentrated at. He continued so you wore a bikini at the beaches you went to, I didn’t react to this offensive question, I said no, what’s your favourite dress, I said Kurti and Pajami, you are plump he said, you will look very good in a Bikini, I had given up smiling, I looked at the gate and I said I have to board my flight.
He had not given up at his stupidity and continued, you can take my number and I said you can take my number ( which I knew he will not due to the cameras and other officials at the Airport around as I was very near to the Immigration area). He took out his phone from his pocket, signaling towards me to take my phone out as well and I didn’t.
I was restless ( I wanted to punch him) and he continued Do you like to Party, DJ, I said no.
He continued, so you should go to the gym , you will look more good, how do I look he asked, I said you look fine. If I was not at an Airport I am pretty sure men like these can overpower a woman with their physical strength. My heart was racing, I said I am going, I have to board my flight, meanwhile, I saw an official approaching him and that official asked him what happened, he said, nothing.
He went with him and I continued my walk towards the boarding gate.
In my personal and professional life so far, in my travel history so far, this is not the first time that I felt like punching the face of someone , this is also not the first time that I didn’t want to be rude but this is actually the first time when I wasn’t rude, I didn’t yell just because I was not in my country. I was smiling and I was nice, maybe I have matured or maybe it was just the fear of security/police/immigration people which is psychological with Indians I guess even if they might not have done anything illegal or wrong.
To sum it up, this was the creepiest experience ever, I don’t think I will easily forget this verbal diarrhea of a government official, his X-ray eyes and his non-chivalrous attitude.
P.S he was a tall and good looking man with a shitty mind and a shittier work ethic. (I forgot to mention above he isn’t married either which he mentioned himself) and also that I have very good Muslim friends so please do no generalize as this attitude is not religion specific.