I am now in Frankfurt waiting for my connecting flight to Zurich where I will get a train to Bern. During the flight from SA I was so fascinated by the number of men in business class that I took a walk in the middle of the night just to do a count. Out of sixty people in business class, there were only three women (myself included). I am specifically focusing on business class because I have no idea what was going on in economy. I was too tired of course so I had no time for small talk with the man sitting next to me. I managed to get some sleep, however, I have to say it was not as comfortable as the SAA business class. Yes this was Lufthansa flight. The seat does not unfold into a comfortable bed. Anyway, it was still better than no bed at all. I am grateful.
I have been all over the world since my first trip overseas in 1995 when I went to the USA, but I am still fascinated by how different countries receive visitors. It used to be a little better many years ago then 9/11 happened and then traveling became some kind of a nightmare. The security checks I understand but the suspicions and misconceptions I don’t. The suspicions increase or decrease depending on the amount of melanin you have. So even with a VISA and the checks they did when you applied for it, there is still a suspicion that you are not safe to have.
So while on the queue at immigration here in Frankfurt, I see the TV screen with a wonderful welcoming message that says “Great to have you here” and a smiley face and thought wow, perhaps today I will not get the third degree interrogation. Then I got to the counter and handed over my passport and boarding pass to show that I am in transit. The young handsome lad took a few minutes to check it and the interrogation started – what are you doing in Zurich? Do you have the invitation letter they sent you? when are you going back? etc. Unfortunately I did not print the invitation letter, so I gave him the conference programme which shows that I am giving a keynote on Monday. I also gave him my e-ticket to show that I am definitely going back home next week. Then I told him that if he really needs the invitation letter then I will have to get online find it and show it to him on my iPad. He kept quiet and as he was slowly studying my documents I felt like saying, well I do not care for your country, I definitely want to go back home. This is what my friend Dr Happy Sethole once said when he was interrogated heavily in Europe. But I didn’t. The thing is that this kind of interrogation makes me feel like I am not wanted here. It makes me feel not trusted, as if I want to use the conference invitation to stay on in this country and not go back home. I understand that over the years I am sure there has been many people who did that, so that is why the immigration officials are so strict but when it happens I am not thinking about that and that is what makes me feel not wanted. Anyway, I finally went through and now am writing you from the business lounge. I have been here for an hour, so let me go and catch my flight to Zurich – it is boarding time.