I was already touring Europe in the summer of 2013, I’ve been in and out of European countries, crossing borders without any hassle or being questioned. But it happened to me in the day I was flying on December 31st 2013 from Bangkok to Paris, with a very short transit in Delhi, India. It never occurred to me before that such transit could be so terrifying. The flight to Paris CDG was already delayed for about 1/2 hour, and the security measurement at Delhi Airport was the worst that I’ve been through. It was a madhouse, according to JF. We were standing in line for ridiculous body and luggage check while on a very short transit, competing not just with the passengers bound for Paris, but also 3 or 4 more international flights around same time of departure on that day. After such hassle for over 45 minutes, I was in big relief, thinking that we are ready to board the plane. The walk to the boarding hall was very long. Then I saw another security check at the end of the travelator (the horizontal escalator) to the boarding hall and I said “Here we go again.” They went through my passport then I realized that I am in trouble when they called the lady, some sort of an airport security manager. They were questioning about my face on my passport, I simply looked different because I was wearing headscarf in the photo. They asked me to take out any physical evidence to show that I am the person in the photo in my passport. I took out my expired driving license (no longer driving in Malaysia), my Uni I.D, my My-Kad (Malaysian I.D) and a photo of me and JF from last summer trip. They were being ridiculous when they said “Your driving license is expired. This is not you.” How could one travels with other’s this many I.Ds anyways? For that , I was denied boarding. I was mad, sad and disappointed. I too, like other passengers on that flight, were dreaming of being in Paris for New Year’s day. I felt like I was being harassed. I started swearing upon my religion and God’s name that I am the person in the picture and that I am the bearer of the passport, and the passport is valid for another 1 1/2 year. When I shout “God Almighty, I am Muslim!” They gave back all my I.Ds and my passport, putting their hands down, and gave up harassing me. It was clear they have some sort of prejudice, almost bigots, because they understand very little about a young Muslim woman from a developing country who just wants to travel. That was the day when I felt, even with so much freedom of travel, you must expect the unexpected. Obstacles in traveling are inevitable. It took more than courage. You need not to panic or cause panic, but at the same time, staying rational without having to break down is difficult.
From my Instagram account: The day I boarded the plane, apparently, some travelers must board with hassles.