Firstly and foremostly, hi. If you missed my last issue that I sent out three days ago, please read it here
; I’ve gone on and on and on… nothing new there.
Secondly, I changed my WhatsApp number back to what it originally was—my oldest phone number, since 2006. Yes, that one. If you were busy living your life and did not take note of this important world event, you’re all set. Nothing to worry. You didn’t miss much.
Last Sunday, when I reached the immigration counter upon arriving at an airport in America—my third time ever—the officer looked at me intently and asked, “How many ‘no.1’ films has Govinda
starred in?” OK, he didn’t ask that, but he might as well have. Because that’s how it felt when he asked, “Why did you stay in Mexico for 30 days when only 14 were enough to enter the US?” I felt like I knew the answer but couldn’t bring myself to say it.
Here I was, expecting him to say, “Arre sir, you stayed for longer than required! This way please… chai-samosa at the next counter.” I expected a red carpet, no less. Instead, all I got was an officer looking at me quizzically as to why I wouldn’t enter USA as soon as I could.
‘Bro, I was in Zipolite. You think one month was enough there? Especially after discovering a Thai restaurant on the last day of my stay there. Ugh. I should’ve stayed on for another month at least.’ I said none of this to him, of course.
I told him honestly that my girlfriend and I holidayed for a month after being separated for one trillion years. He nodded, stamped my passport and whisked me off his face, hoping that the next person would be the liar trying to lie their way into Murica.
Given how boring an immigration officer’s job is, they are allowed at least that—complete apathy towards a visitor (or citizen).
It is worth observing, however, that it feels intimidating: to stand in line with a hundred others, inching your way towards a counter in front of you, watching a countable few disappear behind a barrage of glass doors for secondary inspection; to see men and women in expensive looking suits become unsettled as they try to recollect the exact name of the street they will be staying at; and to finally come face to face with an officer yourself, who holds the power to refuse you entry into the country. Even if the feeling has diminished over time, it is intimidating nevertheless.
The state needs to often remind people that it is all powerful and mighty, lest we forget—whether it is in the second largest democracy or in the largest.
I am reminded of the time I wore a panché (dhoti) to my US visa interview many moons ago. I will write a post about it.