To belong

I’m not a fan of immigration counters. Always a nation’s first line of offense. Whether India or abroad, I have noticed indifference and sometimes rudeness which is ostensibly justified by the need to scrutinize.

Today I made a harrowing journey. Beset by the usual problems; delayed flight, security check, security check for security check, test of purity and piety for traveling to the United States, armrest wrestling, turbulence, a useless airport layout which forces the aircraft to taxi to its gate in the same time it takes to get to its destination, Formula Disembark, Formula Immigration Line, etc.

The person at the immigration counter called me. I expected the usual questions about employers, residence, mild curiosity about my role and utter disinterest halfway through any explanation.

“I see you’ve been here before. Where do you work?”

I told him.

“Long flight?

I was taken aback. I had never heard commiseration or sympathy at an immigration counter.

“Yes, quite. Thanks for asking.” I replied, a bit unsure of where this was going.

I’m not a citizen, not even sure how long I’ll be staying. Despite that he quickly stamped my passport, beamed a big smile and said:

“Welcome back. Welcome home.”

My dour face had to give up. I smiled and thanked him walking away with a little less lead on my feet. This wasn’t home, this wasn’t even family. But for a short while it felt good to belong.

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12 responses to “To belong”

  1. Anirban says :

    I loved this post. Been there many times too brother!

    Not sure I belong anywhere anymore.

  2. Aquatic Static says :

    ‘But for a short while it felt good to belong’. How do you guys do it? This dual existence? I see my elder sister go through it and it baffles me.

    • daddysan says :

      Yeah, good point. But honestly, those thoughts are inversely proportional to purpose. It’s strong now. I haven’t spent too much time here so the hunger’s still there. Over time, I’m sure these issues will crop up.

  3. Giribala says :

    Spread the bonhomie!!

  4. Raytida says :

    Happened to me too. He asked, “Long flight.” Me: “Yeah.” Him: “I can tell it from your eyes. *stamp* Go get some sleep. Welcome.” Me: “Thanks. Alas, I still have one more flight to catch. :(“

    • daddysan says :

      That’s good. Maybe these things aren’t so rare. One thing that never fails to surprise me is the downright hostility in India when you’re LEAVING the country. Why ask questions? Why even HAVE an immigration check when you’re leaving?

  5. Gargi Mehra says :

    Came here via GreatBong. Good write-up of the incident. This really is rare, I understand.

  6. bhel says :

    Wow, that is out of the ordinary. Call me cynical, but did you check afterwards to see if you were being followed by two nondescript individuals in black suits with wires in their ears? :p

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