Airport security in Pakistan, for those of you who have not been privileged to experience it, is nothing like any other of its counterpart. For one thing Pakistan is possibly the only country where what you look like is more important than what your baggage (hand or otherwise) looks like. If you’re lucky, and some of us invariably are, the person behind the x-ray computer will be too busy looking at you to look at your bag. I applaud their logic, naturally, because clearly they have latched on to the important truth that if enough care has been taken with one’s appearance, one is clearly not going to blow oneself up. Make’s sense to me. Why would I want to get a manicure if I was preparing to meet my maker? On the other hand, maybe I would. I know not whether the deity is swayed by appearances (or not) but it makes sense to cover all the bases. But as usual, I digress.
Coming back to the point, when the bag has gone through the x-ray machine, the self is kindly-invited-to-please-step-through-the-x-ray-portal-at-my-kind-convenience. Invariably¸ my sunglasses make it beep. Or it could be my watch. Or my shoes. I raise an eyebrow at the security official, who realizes the gross impropriety of asking me to take my clothes off (perish-the-thought-I’m-not-a-fahaash-amreeki-thank-you-very-much) and points me towards an enclosed cubicle where the ladies are being ‘screened’. I walk in and prepare to be molested. Quite honestly, if any woman in Pakistan claims that she does not know what it feels like to be felt up, she has never experienced the joys of plane travel. As it is, the woman inside the cubicle puts her hands all over my body, pressing down most inappropriately quite literally from top to bottom. Which is ofcourse quite necessary since most women tend to hide explosives inside their bras. Or failing that, their panties. Ofcourse.
As I wait for the inevitably delayed flight to approach the hanger, it occurs to me, that Pakistan is perhaps the only country where one can walk into the airport, and spy in the distance an enclosed smoking zone (appropriately sponsored by Marlboro) with nice cushy seats and a wide open door. We are also, perhaps the only country where the smoking zone lies empty, while a few rows away – in the middle of the non-smoking zone - a group of heavily moustached men sit around cackling at a shared joke, merrily smoking away, their cigarette butts littering the floor. And Pakistan is also perhaps the only country in the world where airport officials and other travelers sit around this group of men, give them the occasional dirty look, but not a single person complains. Incidentally, a note to all domestic travelers: it seems that AirBlue is ‘always’ delayed. Or so my travel agent informs me much after he has booked a series of flights for me on this ridiculous airline. Naturally, he didn’t feel the need to inform me when asking me if I had an airline preference. Which is ofcourse, perfectly understandable.
In case you wonder, and I’m sure you do, I’m on my way northward to Islamabad, the capital of our merry country. It is also a tad closer to the natural habitat of the Taliban, but since the government now seems to be in cahoots with that particular plague I gather it really matters not. I managed to be recruited to a project I wanted (*yay*) so I suppose I’m on the verge of (re)embarking on a career as a consultant. If anybody has anything they would like to ‘consult’ me about, you know where to find me dahlings. And on that note, I turn off my computer and proceed to wait-some-more for this godforsaken airline to finally depart.