Police is Looking for Me!
Yes, police is looking for me.
And not 1 but 3 of them!
August 17, 2016
“I'm sorry, police is looking for you.”
I was lying in my dorm room in the hostel in Beijing trying to rest before the long day and night ahead of me. Or maybe rather long night and day ahead of me. I had an early flight and as I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep anxious that I might be missing my flight, I had decided to spend the night at the airport. I was to leave the hostel at noon. I had only 20 minutes left to gather all the strength to keep me going for 38 hours. That's when the young boy at the reception walked into the dorm room and announced that police was waiting for me.
“Police?” I asked. I don't know what I felt. Me? Being searched by the police? I hadn't done anything wrong. What could have happened?
“Yes, there are three Chinese police officers waiting for you in the lobby.”
Oh, good! So not only one but three police officers had come looking for me. I was not aware that I was such a criminal!
Certainly, I got up and went. There they were. Two men and a woman.
“Can we have a look at your passport?” one asked.
I should have asked “What for?” but one is taken by surprise in such situations and we are taught not to question authority. Or I should have said not taught but indoctrinated as that is drilled into our heads at a very young age. Anyway... Of course there was no reason why I shouldn't have shown it. Everything was in order.
“You Italian?” the man asked.
Why was he asking that? He had my passport in his hand. Didn't he know how to read?
Of course I didn't ask that. “Yes,” I said, obedient and courteous. I didn't go into an explanation that I was originally Turkish and I was Italian only by marriage. My passport said I was an Italian. Who was I to contest it?
At that point I asked “Why? What happened?”
They said “Nothing. Just routine checks.”
They asked why I was in China.
"I went to North Korea," I replied.
They said “So you are going to North Korea?”
“No,” I said. “I already went. I am going back to Italy.”
You see... China has this 3-day transit-visa policy for certain countries. Italy is one of them. That's why I was travelling on my Italian passport. That's also why I flew to and back from North Korea. Because in order to get the transit-visa you need to fly in and out. You may not arrive in the country by train. If I could, I would have preferred to take the train one-way to North Korea just for the experience. But decided the trouble of getting a visa, the paperwork, the coming and going to the embassy and the money to be paid was simple not worth it. That's how you make your travel plans these days. According to the hassle countries hold you to.
That's why the police came looking for me. They were making sure that I'd be leaving the country. They were making sure that I was under their control. Of course they don't do this for every single transit-visa entry, they probably pick randomly. And I happened to be one of those randoms. Maybe that was also why I was held up at the immigration office for an hour (not including the one hour waiting in line), filling in so many forms instead of the usual simple form. I wonder what would have happened if I had not booked a place or had decided to change it? Would they have come after me to check my flight out? I wonder... Probably yes.
Anyway... The event turned out to be non-eventful. I went back to my room and tried to rest, 15 minutes of my precious 20 minutes stolen from me. When I got out with my luggage, the reception boy said “I'm sorry. They are just doing their job.”
“I'm sorry for them,” I replied. “There are better things to spend one's life and time doing.”
The guy gave me a small Chinese trinket as an apology on their behalf.
I thanked him. But I still couldn't keep thinking how absurd it is to keep records and to try to go after one person who has done nothing wrong just because she was born within another imaginary boundary on Earth.
But you see... That's what I had done wrong. I was born within the wrong boundary for them. That's what migrants and refugees have done wrong. They just didn't know any better... They shouldn't have been born in wrong places of the Earth. Well... I'm sure in their next life, if there is any, they'll be making sure to be born in a prestigious place which allows them more wandering room on Earth.