We have an Arabic proverb that goes: “Whatever surpasses, backfires”. This was what came in mind when going through the security checks while travelling back from Malaga to Muscat. Travelling on Qatar Airways meant that I had to pass through Madrid and Doha too.
In total, the trip took around 14 hours between flying and waiting for connecting flights. The first security check that took place was in Malaga’s airport. I was asked to step aside; a lady security guard took a swab from my head scarf (and asked me not to move). She took the swab into a machine that within seconds declared that I wasn’t a threat.
She smiled and said: “Now you can go!” I smiled back and went to pick my bag from the X-ray machine. The security lady there opened my bag asking if I had any liquids which I didn’t (it made me wonder about the efficiency of the X-ray machine). She zipped my bag and I was good to go.
Being a domestic flight, there were no security checks in Madrid. The plane took off at 5 pm Madrid time and landed in Doha at 1.10 am local time. My connecting flight to Muscat was at 2 am I had less than an hour to catch the plane.
Doha’s airport is gigantic, so by the time I reached the main building and rushed to security it was almost 1.25. The security line was long as many flights had landed at the same time.
Surprisingly, the security were Africans talking to each other in their mother tongue. It didn’t feel like being in an Arab country. When putting my bag on the X-ray belt, I could see the security guard squinting his eyes to the screen. He then carefully removed my bags and put them aside for checking.
I was panicking by now as it was already 1.30 and my chances of catching the plane were becoming slim. He called the other Indian security who came and asked me if these were my bags. Assenting, he put them in front of me and as I reached to open one, he said in firm tone that reminded me of American movies “Step away from the bags ma’am!”.
I put my hands up spontaneously and backed off. Nevertheless, I told him that I had a plane to catch and asked if he could be quick. He wore his gloves slowly and started with my handbag. He brought a long probe and inserted it before stirring it in.
He then stuck it into the same machine in Malaga’s airport (that again declared that I wasn’t a threat). He inserted his hands carefully and took out my bulging underwear bag. He opened it and gave me an embarrassed smile.
I smiled back as he returned it and decided to go for my back pack. He brought out a pear that I kept in a plastic bag — so that it doesn’t squash into my things. With a bigger smile he asked: “What is this ma’am?” I chuckled answering: “It’s a pear! It’s food!”.
He put it back and wished me a pleasant flight. He then turned to the African on the X-ray and told him to pay more attention next time.
I had only 20 minutes to reach the gate and I had to run like crazy for almost 10 minutes. Luckily, I caught the flight and didn’t end up with a heart attack.
Arriving to Muscat, I was welcomed by a smiling security check that even helped me to put the bags on the X-ray belt. Home sweet home!
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org