I see green, you see red

Amna Iqbal April 24, 2010

I have a love-hate relationship with the colour green. I love it in vegetables, clothes, on other women’s faces when I look better than them but I hate the colour on my passport. Before I’m written off as a treasonous, not-fit-to-be a Pakistani, foreign-passport-lover, let me give you reasons. Starting from visa applications to airport security checks and everything in between, the process is agonizing to say the least. All because of the colour green.

I love travelling, that combined with the fact that parts of my immediate family are scattered all over the world means that every few months or so, I have to begin the life-force-draining process of gaining access into the western world. All of this is OK except for the bit that I don’t really like visa applications. No correct that – I hate them. It’s not just the several million forms that one has to go through and answer questions ranging from what I would’ve been in a past life to what kind of bread do I eat and if I do eat a particular kind of bread does that mean I have terrorist connections/inclinations/thoughts.

Or that one has to provide information/proof about how I support myself and my dog and my cat and my aunt’s goldfish and how/if I’m related to each one of them. It’s simply that the minute you deal with a visa officer, all human reasoning and decency falls apart. If you’re lucky enough to be granted access, the airport security processes will give you ulcers at the very least. From body scans to luggage checks to absolutely absurd questions from sometimes complete strangers (I once had a man congratulate me at Heathrow from making it to London from Pakistan), it’s not pleasant.

All of this is maddening but what drives me up the wall is not just the second-class treatment thrown your way at every step of the way, but the fact that you are expected to put up with it without so much as a whimper. You’re marked green, and this green is making the world see red.