Singled for Questioning

I just had two police officers from customs come up to me in the Newark Airport and say they had important questions to ask of me. They started, “are you andrew?”

I am currently on my way to meet Sheela and my mother (a day later) in Istanbul, as we travel around Turkey for two weeks before I head to Delhi for the beginning of my Fulbright experience in Calcutta.
They wanted to know what I was planning on doing in Turkey, if I was going to visit syria, if I had plans to travel in the region and what I was doing afterwards. I asked them how they found me/ knew it was me and they just said, “we know a lot. we get a call to go to a gate and check this guy out, that guy out, and we go”

Now they are standing in the corner on their cell phones looking at me

They wrote everything I said down. That I was going to Turkey for a vacation with my mother and girlfriend, that Sheela was on a flight to Istanbul right now and my mother was home, that I was traveling with $20 only. That I was a Fulbright research going to Calcutta to study the early press in India and the Bengal Renaissance


(Meanwhile there is a girl vomiting a couple seats away from me)

It might be because I missed my flight yesterday, or that I have only a one way flight to istanbul and then onward flights through the middle east to Delhi, or that I have electronic communication with a 51% chance of being with people outside the US?

But I wonder the number of people they ask like me and level of information they collect on people like me (and of course, levels of discriminatory profiling, etc). So far, I don’t see any infringements on my personal liberty but it is certainly disturbing, but who knows what else is going on that I don’t know? Makes me paranoid, and I certainly have not had anything like that happen to me before.

The way they came out of the blue from my side and asked what I was doing. I wonder if I had given them different answers, what would have happened. Although I’m not going, isn’t it my right, no matter how suicidal, to go to Syria, (should I be allowed into the country)? Let’s say I was a journalist—would customs allow me to leave?

If not, then I would consider that an infringement on my liberties, and I wonder if they’ve told others similar things.

Maybe they would…wait for it, classify me as a terrorist. Well, now I know I must be on some sort of watchlist and that’s creepy enough.

Whew! On to Byzantium and then to India!