Saturday, December 24, 2016

Airport Woes

'The lines, the forms, the people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officers, the looks on the street, the cold settling deep into my bones, the English Somalis classes at night, the distance I am from home.I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here'-Warsan Shire

It has come to my attention that I look real foreign to Somali immigration guys and maybe timid because how else do you explain the number of times they tell me to stand aside as they  finish checking travel documents for other passengers and then call me at-last to ask me crazy ass questions.I do my research before going anywhere on what immigration requirements are, therefore I always know the pre-requisites like if they need you to have a letter or they need you to have an amount of money and always I am prepared but alas I am mostly told to step aside and wait for everyone else to be cleared 'sad story of my life'.

The only place I travel to often is Somalia and it's for work,the thing with me is people will say hi in Somali and I will answer and they will chit-chat and my struggling Somali will give me away and they will ask my name and I will say Rahma. This is the conflicting piece of information to them my name is Rahma and I speak broken Somali (for now) because one of my top resolutions for the new year is to learn and speak fluent Somali.What brings the conflict is how can she be Rahma(a name so common amongst Somalis), speak such Somali and look so distinctively Kenyan because Somalis have this notion that they are Arabs :-D :-D,like seriously this people think they are not Africans!

Obviously I wear my Hijab so I am Muslim that is clear and maybe Somali,so to confirm if I am Somali the immigration guys will speak Somali to me and when they realise you are struggling then they start using words that are deep just to alienate you :-( and when I say I don't understand they always ask me to step aside,why me? what have I done to deserve this?. This I am used to, honestly I will be surprised if it didn't happen,like did I become prettier or did I start looking Somali.

So this guy today has the audacity to ask for my passport and it's a domestic flight(from one town in Somalia to another), for every single person he only checked the tickets,stamps them and keeps them,see I already knew this and kept my ticket safe so when it was my turn I handed him my ticket and expected no drama but boy didn't I know I was in for the biggest drama of the year. he looks at the ticket,then at me and goes like give me your passport and I make nothing of it because I have a valid entry visa but he doesn't stop and asks;'So what brings you here' and I say 'I work here' he keeps quite for a bit and then drops this line;

Immigration guy: 'You work in Somalia and yet you don't speak Somali?'

Up until this point I wasn't up for a fight or anything but when he said this,he irked me so bad and by bad I mean I forgot Mogadishu,Somali,Somalis think shooting people is nothing and just wanted to fight and tell him how he is the one that is over-stepping his mark.

Me: Excuse me?

The guy has no chills, he repeats himself.

I could have kept quite and let it be but I was just so angry because he had no grounds I had a valid visa and he insults my Somali and all the efforts I have put to learn and speak this language however broken mine is for now.

Me:What is wrong with you? pretending to check you computer yet we all know you have no record whats-over and what you want is money and you think I am scared of sleeping in this airport or you deporting me....................................... a crazy crazy rant.

A crazy crazy rant.That I regretted soon after and almost apologized but stopped myself because he was wrong I wasn't.

Word of advise to anyone who reads this and happens to travel to Somalia/plans to travel to Somalia.

1) Never speak out loud when you are angry or irked,it's ok to think anything you want but just don't say it.

2) Have your valid visa always and if by mistake the guy stamping visa on entry has the wrong dates like in my case instead of one month he stamped for two months,don't think you are lucky just have this corrected it might come back to bite you.

3)Young immigration guys are hell,so if ever you saw someone young-ish at the immigration desk,come prepared for their big egos and always be the bigger person.

4) Brush up on your Somali and speak the little you know like you own the language.

5)Confidence is major key,if you are not in the wrong you are not in the wrong but also remember that ego thing, deception will win this for you. Know you are right but massage the ego of that immigration person.

6)Whatever you do,do not fight or talk back because an hour at the airport can make you re-think the need for a rant when you actually do not know anybody who can get you out of a fix but if you do know someone put those guys in their place for all of us.

Also Somalis are the kindest of people,I should know this because I practically live here :-) :-), like it a lot and that Warsan quote I used it's because I really like her and it has the word immigration in it because we all know she is talking about the REAL thing and not this my drama.

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