Ready For Take-off

As I check my passport one last time before putting it in my purse, my whole body freezes in horror


Ready For Take-off
by Ghahremani

The clock indicates I have plenty of time before my flight, but for all I care this trip might as well be delayed, postponed, and even cancelled. Fear of terrorism, not to mention the possibility that I may be the suspect, has sucked the fun out of traveling. A lifetime record proves me to be a benign citizen, but the way they now treat me at the borders, I’m no longer so sure. After all, when it comes to homeland security, the authorities know a lot more than I do.

Funny how simple words can present a complicated, even scary, meaning when used as a combination. For example, ‘police’ makes me feel safe whereas “Secret police” gives me the creeps. “Homeland Security” is doing the same, because before this expression became a household word, I didn’t worry so much about “homeland” or “security”.  

Long gone are the days when my fear of flying was confined to take-off, landing, and all the turbulences in between. I’ll admit, those were indeed some of the most spiritual moments of my life and I have no doubt that each and every time, it was my heartfelt prayers -- sometimes amid tears while kneeling in the isle – that brought the plane to its safe landing.  

A procrastinator, I often got to the airport just seconds before takeoff time, and I won’t even mention the number of flights I’ve missed. Now I’m expected to get there early enough to finish reading an entire book before my flight and, when flying overseas, it is as if I live at the airport. As for prayers, once I’ve been safely through security, especially if my suitcase can be closed after its contents are scrambled multiple times, I’m certain God is watching me!

Unsure that my luggage and I end up in the same destination, I now take a small carry-on of bare necessities, which means I’ll have to be extra careful with what I pack. New regulations require for dangerous items such as perfume, hair gel, or nail polish to be protected in a zip-log bag. The inventor of zip-log had no idea what a substantial role this invention would play in our national security.  

I may have to forget about taking my tiny sewing kit along. That scissors are lethal weapons is well documented in movies, but by now there has to be an anti-needle law, too. And of course, let’s not underestimate the thread. Considering the starvation diet imposed on airline passengers, and how few the peanuts are when and if they are offered, who knows when one may be tempted to strangle the hostess with the sewing thread?

I won’t worry about taking my nail file as I can just hear the woman saying, “Ma’am, according to this list, your long nails are a serious safety hazard.” Just give them time and I bet some people’s tongues will soon be considered “weapons of mass destruction.”

As I check my passport one last time before putting it in my purse, my whole body freezes in horror. There on the first page, in bold capital letters, it is written, “Place of birth: IRAN.” All of a sudden it is as if the safety net is pulled from under me and my American passport becomes a parachute with a huge hole in it.  

At last I’m at the airport and, as I proceed to the radiation tunnel, it is clear that my winning smile will win me no points. Not only do these inspectors lack humor, they seem to manifest a strong disdain for happiness. I remove my ring, watch, glasses, and hairpins and place them in a bin. Next, I’m asked to take my shoes off and as the pungent odor of fake leather fills the air, I put them in another bin.  

Metal-free and disarmed as I may be, the damn detector starts to buzz the minute I approach it. I am pulled to the side and am told to spread my arms out. Gloved hands run up and down my body while someone passes a beeping wand all over me.

When I finally reach gate G-63 – located in another continent – I realize there’s two hours to spare. Maybe Homeland security has interest in Starbucks because getting here this early leaves me no choice but to join the long line for my last chance at a late´.

Four hours later, we are finally airborne and I don’t even care what the captain means when he announces, “we’ll catch on.” While the hostess makes robotic movements to demonstrate the many uses of the floating device in a shark-infested frozen ocean, I close my eyes and thank my lucky stars for being safety suspended in mid-air.


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Balouchi, my friend, the

by Farhad Kashani (not verified) on

Balouchi, my friend, the reason is because the Marxist-Islamist Iranians who write these postings are infected with the U.S love-hate disorder.



by Balouchi (not verified) on

Why is it that everything has to be Bush/Chaney's fault. If Clinton would have kept the defense budget intact during his reign and not instituted NAFTA then may be 911 would not have happened and Osama would have been taken care of when they had a chance. Bush had no choice but to react after 911. I think he should have taken on Iran and not Iraq instead when he had a chance but that is what Saddam got for calling Bush senior names and he deserved what he got. If you want to leave it to liberals to take care of foreign policy then just wait and see how "BORAT Hossein Oo baa maa" is going to protect you since he has already signed Zbigniew Brzezinski in.
we already know what Hillary and her buddy "Madeleine All NOT THAT BRIGHT" is going to do. So no to bend over policy of Clinton's and let's hope McCain is going to take over where Bush Jr couldn't.

Niki Tehranchi

Kaveh: Yes

by Niki Tehranchi on

It's called being holier than the pope. (I think the equivalent in persian is "Kaasseh daaghtar az aash")

 I am sure you saw the very interesting filmed experiment by Makhmalbaf called Salaam Cinema (I won't call it a movie or a documentary, it literally was a filmed psychological experiment). For those who haven't, he puts an ad in the paper to cast an unknown actor in his upcoming project and hundreds of eager young men and women show up. What follows is a grueling audition process where he puts them under what could only be called mild psychological torture (making them cry, laugh at will, being rude to them then suddenly nice, telling them to go away then to come back etc etc). One of the girls who is crying hysterically finally tells him he is being cruel and that he is abusing his position. Makhmalbaf asks her if she would do better than him and she says sure, because I have been in this place, I would know not to treat others like the way you treat me. So he asks her to sit with him at the judge's table and audition the rest. Sure enough, worse than a monkey imitating a human, she suddenly switches to being belligerent, arrogant and cruel, mistreating the auditioners even worse than Makhmalbaf has done.

All this long tirade to simply say, these freshly naturalized immigrants who have now come to the position of power "behind the desk" are mimicking with even more verve and success the tactics used against them. The student has surpassed the master.

Kaveh Nouraee

Does anyone else recognize...

by Kaveh Nouraee on

That an increasing number of border and customs personnel are foreigners themselves?

Look at the names on the badges. Wong, from China. Nguyen, from Vietnam. Bataclan, from the Phillipines. Hernandez, originally from some Central American banana republic. These are the real names that are on the badges of actual agents I have encountered in my travels.

They are also the ones who cause more unnecessary grief for travelers. Every time I have traveled since 2001, the foreign customs personnel are the ones who have acted exactly as TravelLover descibes, while, Billy Bob, the beer-bellied inspector from Pigeon Whiskers, Arkansas is the most professional and easy-going one in the bunch. As a matter of fact, the American customs inspector I last encountered asked me if I had seen "Persepolis" yet. When I told him I hadn't, he said, "I saw it twice. See it the first chance you can. You'll enjoy it as much as I did."

The last foreign one was a Vietnamese refugee with a thicker accent than the good old boy who moonlights as a film critic. He was harder to understand.

Go figure.


Roundtrip tales

by TravelLover (not verified) on

Thanks to 9/11 and the subsequent Israelization of U.S air travel and airport security, what you have so well described tells one half of a roundtrip story, i.e. the Departure.

The Arrival at U.S. airports is a whole other tale that is even a more Israelized process. If you are one of the lucky U.S. passport holders with your place of birth marked as Iran, then the inately amature border inspector finds his real opportunity to try and play the role of the stern detector who has zeroed in on the catch of his lifetime and is about to make the biggest bust of his career.

The lesson from all this is simply the fact that if you have been born in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel of course, do not count on your being a naturalized U.S. citizen to mean anything. The true value of U.S. citizenship was, like many other good things in America, shoveled down the drain when the Bush-Cheney cabal took control of this country.

The sooner we recognize that, as Iranian-Americans, we are second class citizens, and consequently automatic suspects, the less illusional our expectations and the easier our lives will be, not just at the aiport, but in all aspects of life in the beloved USA for the forseeable future.