I see green, you see red

Published: April 25, 2010
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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.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Omair Adil
    Apr 27, 2010 - 4:32PM

    That is really true, and anyone who has had even the remotest experience of travelling abroad can affirm everything that you have said. Though, I was lucky enough not to experience any of that stuff arriving in New Zealand (that was probably one of the major reasons for me choosing to come to New Zealand than go any where else in the world)but the stories that I hear from people here are absolutely horrendous, and that is not an exaggeration by any means. But there have also been instances to quote otherwise, though rare and far apart. It is a true tragedy.
    A lot has been said on this topic, and a lot more needs to be said. We need to negate the notion of “guilty unless proven innocent” associated with the muslims and give ourselves a fair chance. We must at least try to educate the masses on the virtues of Islam.
    The west still rues over the holocaust and the injustices meted out by Hitler. Is the treatment they now direct towards the muslims any different from that? The West will always shy away from answering this question and not because they do no know the answer, rather because they are afraid of spelling out the truth.Recommend

  • seher
    Apr 28, 2010 - 6:16AM

    Amna, great job! I have to admit airports and customs are very intimidating when one is traveling abroad. Ask me, I ACCIDENTLY picked up someone’s ticket and passport along with my own, and kept it in my bag! Recommend

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