I have always heard stories of other people’s unpleasant experiences at the customs of Western countries. I didn’t know how that felt until I went to @ustr@li@.
After going through the customs, I was asked to step aside so that my passport could be verified again. The custom officer, an @fric@n muslim man not born in 0z (I could tell from his accent) asked me a lot of questions about what I was doing Down Under (DU), where I will be staying etc.
It was over in less than 10 mins but it felt weird. The small chat felt very contrived and forceful. It’s not your usual I’m-curious-about-you-so-I-want-to-know-you-better chat. It really felt like the we’re-very-suspicious-of-your-intention-of-being-in-our-country-for-a-week-so-let’s-chat chat.
Unsurprisingly, I was asked to again step aside while the custom officer have another look at my. This time, no one chatted with me. I was just asked to take a seat. I knew that was coming so I was more prepared for it. But a few locals who were taking the same flight did look at me suspiciously. That was a little embarrassing for someone who doesn’t like to be the centre of attention. Esp for the wrong reasons.
Princess apparently faced (almost) the same scenario when she was in0z last. A custom officer checked her bag of choccies for bombs after it went through the X-ray machine. She’s convinced she got that treatment because of her name. I think I had the same problem because of my “binti” status. Non-muslim Malaysians who went through the same security check/officers walked away without a single hassle. I can’t help but think that that’s so unfair.
Sure, I’m thankful that I was not detained or have my bag opened. One Muslim (not sure his nationality) man was asked to open his hand luggage after the x-ray machine. He didn’t look too happy about it.
But I’m still not okay with being “detained” for 7 minutes for my passport to be checked. What bothers me more is that they never offer a clear explanation of why you have to have that little uncomfortable chat. You’re supposed to just feel glad that the experience was over.
That’s not enough. We need to know why we were “singled out” when others can just walk free.
Having said that, I do intend to go there again. For studies or for visits. I can’t guarantee that I can escape that little chat. I hope my experience with the custom will be a better one next time.