You might recall my struggles with my passport, off and on, particularly when I’m marked for special security searches in Heathrow and San Francisco, its just so much fun then being from a third world country. Goddamnit. I don’t know about you but I’m about totally pissed off with the way things are in the world today. And very specifically I’m pissed off at the way everyone goes around pretending that they aren’t specially targetting South Asians AROUND the world for [insert snarky voice] "domestic security" concerns.
Ooh Ouch. You’d think that by now my soft currency third world passport would have gained some respectability, carrying with it the power to waive visas and open borders like the developed nations do. Even Singapore is on that list of special countries whose citizens are welcomed across some of the harshest immigration barriers in the world. And not just today. Its always been that way it seems, I remember once, in May 1991, that would be 16 years ago, and I was here in New Delhi. The LA Riots were taking place then and I remember I had to go to the US embassy to apply for a business visa in order to accompany my then boss for a conference. Nope. Zip. Nada.
First, they were only giving out 80 tokens each day, due to the heightened security as the riots had put the US on high alert. If we wanted to be sure to be in the magic 80 to get into the embassy and actually be able to apply for a visa – oh wow, what joy, considering there was a greater than 70% chance of rejection if not higher if you were educated and english speaking. They made the blanket assumption, patronizingly, that if you were educated and could speak english, you were a potential illegal immigrant and hence wouldn’t be given a visa, ever.
Or at least not until you got yourself tied down flat by marriage, a house and a job, being able to convince the almighty gatekeepers, those issuers of the visitor’s visa’s to India’s teeming hordes, of the ties that tightly bound you to your homeland and thus ensured your return from their bountiful, abundant land that you just had to want to move to, ick, have you tried living in New Delhi through summer ever?
I’ve been thinking about what differentiates a developed nation from a developing nation – its respect for it’s sovereignity, it’s nationhood, and thus, by extension, it’s citizens and it’s passport. The day my Indian passport lets me walk without cringing across any border in the world, that day will be the day my country has become a developed nation.