My airport experiences: CISF & Me
I have generally been a private kind of a guy when it comes to public places and airports are generally as public as they come. So i do make a point to ensure that at the airports all my check boxes iro documentation, Do’S & Dont’s are clearly thought about and worked upon to ensure a hassle free movement. In today’s security scenario there is a greater amount of vigilance at these places especially vigilance that we as passengers cannot see, of course what we do see are numerous gun toting CISF personnel all around trying to blend in keeping a sharp glance at the happenings all around.
2. I also realized that physical appearance plays a huge part in the approach of security personnel towards oneself. Recently i was a participant to this theory, so the scenario played out at Delhi airport, there i was returning back after a three-week trek through the Garhwal Himalaya and my appearance consisted of a substantial growth of beard and moustache while my clothes involved those of a trekker with black colour closely fitting multipurpose trouser and upper base layer and heavy trekking boots and a cap to complete the get up. The luggage involved a big back pack and a photographic bag which contained a lot of my photographic gear .I was definitely standing out from the regular crowd of travellers at the Delhi airport and as i was way ahead of my flight timing , my presence at one particular location for over two hours must have been noticed for i was approached by plain clothes security personnel who were were very polite but definitely asked few probing questions with regard to me, my travel planes and culminated with a look at my id documents . The entire episode was a very polite affair but to the point. So this was my first brush and more was to follow.
3. I was impressed by the alertness level for them to look for individuals amongst the hordes of people moving about but then again my appearance must have gone a long way to make them give me a long hard look. I had taken great care to ensure that the hand baggage which contained moat of the loose photographic gear did not contain anything which could be flagged down during the security check but then i think things went way different here too.
4. The appearance of a bearded guy with a cap and outdoor clothing and boots definitely raised flags, the guy at the security check in gave me a long thorough make over with the hand held metal detector and then he insisted that my boots be removed and even these were passed through the x ray machine, now this was a first for me in over a decade of flying experiences. My camera bag was asked to be opened up and then they went through it with no specific agenda but i guess they were looking to see if any red flags were gonna cone up in their head as they pursued through the individual items, finding nothing i was politely told to repack all and given the all clear.
5. So from shoes to back pack to hand bag i was given a thorough look over. As as i sit waiting for my flight i realized how looks matter a lot in public places and even if u have catered to ensure that u meet all the security guidelines yet if one is not a part of the crowd in terms of looks he will be subjected to checks which do rattle one’s conscience and calm. Though i will not link this to any sort of bias/ profiling but i think the checks are almost the same and maybe even more stringent on most occasions and they do leave a mark on the individual especially if he is very reserved in nature and definitely shies away from undue attention at public places.
6. The perils of the society that we live in and how paranoid things have come to, has become a permanent fixture of our everyday lives, a bit unnerving when one is at the receiving end and closely associated with an event of this sort.