You Paki… you no good!


As a Muslim, the first time you ever land on Saudi soil the thing that comes to your mind is the purity of the land for it is the place where our Prophet (PBUH) received the Ultimate Word from Allah (swt).
That is of course before you have gotten to the visa line at the airport or if you were naïve enough to have traveled to Saudi without the consultation of those who have traveled before you and allowing them to share their utter disappointment at the system of this land.
For the moment you see the visa line at the airport a rush of reality hits you on your face so hard you feel dazed. The first question they ask you is where you’ve come from, if you’ve traveled from a country other then Pakistan, well you have a chance of getting your visa processed within an hour but in case you’ve traveled from Pakistan directly or you hold a Pakistani passport, then get used to the following phrase:
“You Paki – you no good!”
Now mind you, this phrase may not be said to your face but you will see it in their expression and through their conduct. You’ll see our fellow Pakhtoon brothers sitting on the floor lost in translation. Some may very well be sleeping on cold marble floors without any hope or way back. Stuck there for hours on end and only having to wait some more before they can even step out of the airport premises.
For the ones who’ve come for the first time the expression in their eyes speaks of false dreams and promises, for those who’ve been through this ordeal more then a couple of times it’s a look of compromise and despair. Just another battle to get through alive and justify the earning of halal and jaiz living and maybe send enough back home for a family they probably get to see once in two years.
Flights land and queues are formed – that’s the normal order of things else where as well but the lines don’t pile up, they get processed. But in Saudi you can expect things differently.
The lines that are formed with majority Pakistani passport holders are put aside to the wall when GCC officials travel, when the goora (white man) travels or when they feel they want to take a break. The supremacy of color, greed and race is as strong here as in a cast based society.
Yes, I have fallen pray to this hospitality on my first trip and it was nothing less then an agonizing experience.
It was my first trip to this land of the Sheikhs. I got in line like everyone else but slowly it dawned upon me that people from other lines were getting their turns faster then ours. I peaked to see what the matter was but all I could see was a blank visa counter. I couldn’t help but ask the person in front of me why we had been waiting in a line that had no official to stamp us ahead – he was there a while ago but where is he now. The man replied without turning his head or any real tone - “the official has gone for his e’sha prayers”. Noble of him I thought to myself and decided to wait a bit longer.
At this point, I decided to see my watch and reflect on how much time I had for my prayers and after adjusting for time zone differences I realized that the prayers would have been over at least 1hour and 30minutes ago.
This prompted another question from my end to the man in front whom I automatically assumed to be a well versed traveler to Saudi. “Sir”, I enquired, “wouldn’t the prayers be over by now?” The man perhaps a few years older then me turned around this time and with a smile that kind of said it all replied “Of course, but that doesn’t matter to them.” The reply sparked a conversation that at first seemed too Pakistani in origin for me to believe that Saudi’s could behave in such a manner.
So apparently, visa officers in Saudi (along with most other middle class working Saudis) don’t really care about the job at hand, since their jobs are more or less confirmed by the government. Not only that but the antagonizing fact of it all is that most Saudi’s working in middle management and holding limited education consider all outsiders such as Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis as their slaves. I had read about this and heard about this, but to actually witness this was too degrading for me. They get a sadistic ego boost out of belittling us and testing our patience.
In my particular case, the visa officer at our counter was barely even working. He had the task of taking our finger prints and stamping our passport – but he was too busy smoking in a non-smoking area. And by chance, when a Pakistani did something wrong (not out of his own fault but because of the machine’s issues) the officer would snub him and occasionally point his four fingers of the right hand on the Pakistani’s forehead and make expressions of utter disgust. The sheer amount of hatred was oozing out of every pore in that officer’s body.
When he was done with the cigarette he would get up and walk off for ten minutes and come back with a cup of tea and sip it while we all waited in line. Then came the ever long e’sha prayers’ break. This lasted for close to two hours and when he returned, he had another cigarette and kissed the other officers in cultural fashion and got up from his seat and closed his system.
Yes you heard right, he came back, sat down, got up and closed his system. But then why wouldn’t be, his shift was over and what a tiring shift it was! If you haven’t been able to feel the hint of sarcasm in my writing I apologies but I’m saying it out loud now… I’m being sarcastic about their hectic schedule!
This guy had the audacity to stare us all down and waste two hours of our time only because he didn’t bother to work.
As luck would have it, the moment he turned off the computer, the officer on the next shift couldn’t turn it back on. Apparently, system crashes are common in this part of the world and frankly much loved by the government officials.
I waited another hour and a half because frankly there was nothing much for me to do. The visa lines were clogging up for us Pakistanis but all flights coming in with GCC nationals and the white man were getting prompt service. It was a do or die situation for me now, I hadn’t stood this long even for a punishment in school. The flight from Dubai to Saudi was shorter then the wait at the visa counter.
I realized that the officials wanted one thing and one thing only – the realization that they are superior. It seems that ego drives this part of the world. I took a chance and went up to one of the officers and simply told him that he was the one person here who could address my issue and I would be highly obliged if he could help me out. Of course I had to say this in a purely English accent so as to seem as less Pakistani as possible (ashamed as I was to do it, it was the only thing that could have worked).
After more then three hours of waiting, all I had to do was talk to a Saudi official and he took me to an empty GCC member’s counter and got me through in less then a minute! No finger prints, no long lines, no problems!
It made me wonder, if I could get through the long hassle with one request, why weren’t the others able to do the same? Why was there a reason for all those processes if they can allow us to go through without it? I was from the same place as the rest of those people from my line. Other then a laptop bag and a suit on my back what was the difference between me and them? If they were able to speak fluent English would it make all the difference? Did I seem less of a Pakistani to them then the ones standing in my line? Why was there a dual execution with similar people?
As I was stepping out of the visa counter I saw that same expression of one of the officers to yet another Pakistani, an expression we’ve been branded with now in the middle-east

You Paki – you no good!

Powered by Blogger.