I write this on-board a Delta Airways flight from Minneapolis to Calgary. In other words, while suspended in mid-air and from the middle of nowhere.
So, what I am thinking about? Well, I am thinking about the next seven days that I am going to spend in Canada. I am thinking about what a great time I am going to have. I am thinking about seeing my extended family after a very long time. Apart from all this though, there is one more thing that I am thinking about- my passport or rather the power of having one.
Let’s go back to where it all started. Standing in line to board the flight that would take me to Calgary I heard the Delta agent announce into his microphone, “Attention passengers, this is an international flight and for this reason, can you please have your passports ready on the photo page along with your boarding passes for us to scan and allow you to board this flight.” Suddenly, all around me there was a flurry of activity and all passengers including me, held on tight to their passports for dear life. From the corner of my eye, I caught a few taking a quick peek at the photo page and once re-assured that the photo was indeed still theirs, closing it and placing it back in to the original position. It was at that very moment that it struck me- the little Navy-Blue book that I was holding in my hand, was undoubtedly one of my most powerful possessions. As a traveler, as someone who wants to see the world and go places, I could pretty much get by without everything else but my passport.
At this point I should mention that while I am of Indian origin, I hold a New Zealand passport as a result of living in kiwi land for six years of my life, the best so far. This technically and legally makes me a NZ citizen and the benefits of that are many. It’s not to say that I had any problems with being Indian (after all I only got to NZ on the basis of that in the first place) and I recognize that fact. The New Zealand Passport however allows more opportunities to travel uninterrupted and that to any traveler is precious. In that sense it would not be incorrect to say that along with all the memories and experiences that I brought back from this wonderful country, I also brought back my gateway to the world.
Yes, that is what I would like to call it-my gateway to the world. But the point is, what is the difference? This is a question that haunts me. Why is it, that as a holder of an Indian Passport I am not allowed to visit a country freely while as a holder of a New Zealand Passport I am. What has changed? I know I am still the same person. I am still hungry for the same experiences that I was when I held the Navy Blue book that said India and not New Zealand. More than anything, inside the core of my heart I still am and will always be Indian. Why has humanity come to a point where the name of the country on the document that you hold defines where you can go and what you can see. This is not how it should be, this is not how it was meant to be. This thought makes me sad, sad to the point that it manages to pierce through the sunshine of my mind and go straight to my heart.
As I finish this piece I can hear the air-hostess announcing that we shall be landing in Calgary soon. In a few minutes I will be scrambling through my belongings to make sure that I have everything in place for customs including my passport. However, while I do that, the one thing I will be wishing for is to live to see a day when the zeal to see the world, the hunger to experience the culture and landscape of a new land and the passion to realize one’s dreams would be the only qualification that one would need to go someplace and not the name of the country on the passport that they are holding. Be it India, be it New Zealand or any other land in this whole wide world, we would all be same and we would all be equal, joined only by a desire to explore.
Until that day comes by, on my end I am thankful for the privilege that I have, of having the Nay-Blue book that says New Zealand and all I can say to sum it up is- Hail the passport and the power of it.