On my trip to and from England every step of the way the security pulled me aside to check my bags or grill me with a million questions. When I landed in England I finally passed my 5 minute interview with the first person….and they cleared me to go…only to have someone pull me aside right after that to start all over again. Pfhew! I think I have to make up some stories. When I say I’m teaching at a camp…they must think terrorist camp. When say I work for SikhNet which is a non-profit organization…they must think….terrorist funding. It’s like all my answers just feed them and they want more. I always seem to get grilled. Even when I went to Canada…same thing.
When I landed in the USA on my way back from England, I was waiting for my bag to come out and was watching the customs security man standing there. I was thinking how boring it might be for him…and that he must just pick people out to cure his boredome…or in hope of “catching the one”!
Then when I got my bag I walked towards the “nothing to declare” section of customs, and lo-and-behold that very security guy pulls me aside and tell me to go wait over on the side. He then tells me that he needs to search my luggage, and starts asking me questions. He brought another guy over…who starts to open my carry-on luggage and meticulously go through every single item and question it. “What’s on this DVD/CD (Pictures/Music)? What is this movie about (Miri Piri Academy video)? What is this (Nitnem)? What are these pills (Vitamins/Acidopholus)? It went on and on…..! He pulled out some of my business cards and asked about it. I told him that I run a website which connects and teaches about Sikhs. Next thing I know the other guy is taking some cards…and typing it up on his computer. I see the SikhNet home page load….and AHHH… I see the featured SikhiWiki article with the image of Baba Deep Singh. In my mind…I was like…”what is he going to think!”…a turbaned guy with a sword… “Torrorist!”. So I talked to them and explained who the Sikhs are….and what we stand for. I told them about the turban and how 99% of people that you would see in America who wear turbans are Sikhs. Etc. Etc. In then end it turned into an educational interview for them. After giving them that info…and he finished checking my carry-on luggage he seemed satisfied to let me go. I was just glad that we didn’t have to go through my other bag. I was already the last one out of customs after the 30 minute “Educational Seminar”.
So… I guess that is the price, and gift that we have as Sikhs of the Guru, to never fit in…and stand out like kings and queens. It may be inconvenient but…who wants to be normal? I for one want to be original and a leader of the pack, who does not meld to the norm to fit in. Small sacrifices compared to the Sikhs of the Gurus times.
Anyways…it’s all a fun learning and sharing adventure!