I hate queues. They are simply a waste of time, whether they are in a grocery store, passport office or the immigration counter at an airport. I always carry a book or have music with me to make the time pass faster. And quite predictable for a human brain, I am usually pre-occupied upon my turn at the counter. This is a disservice I do to myself since I carry the magnanimous green Pakistani passport. Yes, us Pakistani are given exclusive treatment at almost all airports but more so in western countries. And here I am, the intelligent me, in the queue for the flight to the United States of America to attend a friend’s wedding (such suspicious activity). I am immersed in my book, when the signal to move beyond the fated yellow line is given to me by an oldie at the immigration desk. This ma, probably in his late fifties eyes me to toe as I wipe my sweaty palms on t-shirt before I hand him my passport.
“Are you hiding something from me, young lady?” he says
I look up, perplexed at the comment and still in my absentminded state. He beckons me forward and point to my hands. I do a ‘jazz’ hands and show him they are empty.
“Why are your hands sweaty? Are you hiding something from me?” he repeats.
You know that animation they have in cartoons where the light bulb lights above the head when someone gets an idea? Yeah, so that happened.
This little old man, was trying to intimidate me by rubbing a stereotype accorded to green passport holders and was somewhat enjoying that. The jester in me was shaken out of its dumb reverie and could not help herself, and so responded,
“I am not gonna tell you what I am hiding. That will destroy my entire plan”.
He stares at me for a good 10 seconds before he finally got that I too was deriving amusement out of this situation. He probably was not expecting someone to be in a humorous mood after he had glared the hell out of them a minute ago. Obviously the fun part of his job did not work, so he decided to ask a few more questions.
“Where are you going?”
“To the USA”
“Do you live in the UK?”
“I work here. With TearFund”, *I point to my residence card lying alongside my passport with a look on my face that clearly said, pay a little attention here brother!
“Is your family here too?”
“No they are back home in Pakistan”
“Are you living here alone?”
“How old are you?”
“How come you are not married? How do you parents even allow that? Pakistani parents don’t do that”
*Blank stare on both sides*
This man is asking me why I am not married at 26 because I am a Pakistani, at the immigration desk in Heathrow Airport on way to the US. And I thought, I had left such questions behind when I boarded my flight to London for a master’s degree and especially when I got a job here in the UK. And I pretty much did. I thought I got away from the ‘Chungal’ (trap) of ‘brown aunty questions’ and here I am, standing in an immigration queue realizing that this phenomena does not discriminate between genders, races, nationalities or social status.
“You should get settled in the UK now. Marry someone here”
“OK” *flat stare*
“You should go to Church to meet people”
“I go to Church”
“You should go to church XYZ, you are bound to meet someone you like and someone who likes you”
Are you kidding me? This guy is some brit version of Shaadi Online.
“I am serious. You should get married really”
“Okay Officer, maybe first I should go attend my friend’s wedding to get some ideas?”
Stamps passport and finally lets me go. The queue has grown in the meantime and people are staring at me and giving me odd stares. I am going to petition this Brown Aunty Syndrome to be included in a list of psychological disorders. It is a real problem.
 True story. Not my own but of someone I know. Would never happen to me because my comic timing is rather haywire