First, he saw my Sri Lankan stamp. The customs officer raised his eyebrows.
"Sri Lanka, what were you doing over there?" "Surfing. Traveling. My best friend lives there. He is an architect."
The officer flipped on, seemingly satisfied.
Secondly, he found my stamps from Singapore
"What were you doing over there? Singapore and
Malaysia? Aren't those countries Islamic?"
Looking over my shoulder, his eyes searched for
his colleague's confirmation.
"Malaysia, I think so, yeah. But not Singapore.
It's a melting pot. A very futuristic city.
Airconditioned to the ceiling. To Singapore I
went mostly for the food, to be honest."
"Nothing. And how about Malaysia?"
I explained flights departing from Malaysia were
cheaper compared to Singapore. That I only went
there for a few days, but also, a little bit, for the
food. The customs officer went through some
more pages. Then he found my Yemeni visa. He
put my passport down and stared at me.
"What the hell were you doing in Yemen?"
"I went to the island Socotra, it's not on
mainland Yemen. It's a small island closer to
Somalia. A very special place, some call it
'Galapagos of the Middle East.' I think 85
percent of the plants and animals there, are
"Weren't you scared?"
"Yeah. I was scared. When I was at the airport in
mainland Yemen. That entire area is now taken
by al Qaeda, I believe."
The customs officer was looking at my passport
no longer. If he would have leafed through, he
would have found Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi
God only knows what they'd make of my passport.