‘Show me your Passport’
I was interrupted by a homeland official. He opened his rugged military styled laptop and scanned my passport before further interrogating with me. He flipped the pages briskly to check visa stamps on my passpost.
‘It seems you haven’t visited Mainland yet?’
‘Yes. I haven’t’
‘Why are you here?’
‘To attend this meeting’, I showed him the invitation.
‘What will you be doing there?’
‘Probably, you can ask them directly instead’
‘I ask you’
‘I told you’
‘Where’s your return ticket?’
‘Here’, I showed him. He kept asking for all available documents from me and kept scanning and feeding them into his system. I was surprised as I had never felt such enquiries before in any country before immigration. This man was standing right at the place where the aerobridge of my Air Asia flight joins the arrival hall of Hong Kong International Airport.
‘How much funds do you have to support your trip?’
‘I’ve my cards’, I showed him my bank cards.
‘How much do you have in cash?’
‘Thirty USD. Not a penny more. That will be enough for me to reach my hotel.’
‘You may go.’
‘Okay. No issues.’ I went back towards aerobridge.
‘This way’, he called out eyes pointing me towards immigration. His stare was not at all fine. It was clearly showing the sign of discontent.
It was one of the cold January evening. Hong Kong was pouring with bone biting temperature. I Rushed into rest room relaxing myself from past twelve-hour journey from Trichy with a four-hour transit at Kuala Lumpur. I looked at myself down to top.
One year old Flipflop pair, black colored half pant tailored myself from an old cargo turning grey, a platform quality bright red T-Shirt with weird Sanskrit markings gifted by a friend in Varanasi and a branded sweat shirt carefully picked from fake brand street markets of Delhi which again came as a gift. Two bags. One stuffed with apparels. And another forced to engulf documents and electronics with crooked elastic bottle holding sides. Above all a body, olive skinned mounting all the above, tired exhibiting sunken eyes beneath broken spectacles with messy long wavy hair and jagged beard. And around strolled clean shaven gentle citizens with full suits branded tip to toe.
‘This might have brought attention of that officer.’ I concluded myself and walked out towards immigration. I saw few shy and frail African eyes looking at others trembled instead of exhibiting pride like others which gestured that their day too has begun with the same officer.
Immigration was smooth with no interrogations. Firstly, I drew some cash from machine and issued an octopus card as my friend had already warned me.
I took a seat in very first row in top floor of a double decker bus destined to Fortress Hill where my accommodation was arranged. The seat nearby me was occupied by a Lady of 50’s who had Arab looks. As I had enough for the day I kept quiet observing the land around.
It looked like I was dreaming. A city with utmost perfection and order unveiled before me. Everything was in its place and position. For a person like me who is fond of chaotic surrounding of North India, the silence and perfection gave spasms in guts. Brain was linking silence with a hidden danger. As Hong Kong has limited space, everything is erected upwards to the grasp of sky.
‘Perdon?’, The lady interrupted me in Spanish as the bus touched Hong Kong island crossing Lantau Island, Tsing Yi Island and Kowloon Peninsula.
‘Sorry. I don’t speak Spanish.’
‘Oh. You look Hispanic’, She added.
‘Sorry. I’m Indian’
‘Nice to meet you. If you could can you help me with this address’, She handed a card over to me.
‘Even I’m new to Hong Kong. Wait a minute.’ I took her card to a couple who sat adjacent to me and asked them for help. They spoke no English and they informed with gestures that they are from Mainland and are here for the first time.
Then I found the address by mobile and told the lady the appropriate stop to deboard. She thanked me and I asked where she is from. She informed she is from Argentina. Anthropological mind awoke bringing Arab Andalusian connections.
By the time, the main land couple became interested to know about me. They gestured me where I’m from. I told India.
‘Yeah. India.’ A playful giggle was exchanged. Up until Now I’m figuring out what they might have laughed at.
Britain had left us. But has still left a lot with us.
(To be continued)