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At Indian Airports Women Are Segregated and Treated as Potential Threats

If you follow my blog you know that I have been pretty well bored off my ass – on a social level – since my arrival.  Aside from attending a wedding, I have not done much.  Trying to be gentle with the topic, my dear friend Michael in London said: “well, sweetie, you sure seem to have a lot of time to write.”  haha  Yeah, too true.  In fact, in three weeks my laptop has been my only dinner companion (this is my daughter’s fault for staying behind to finish GCSEs!!!).  And I know how close this next statement actually puts me to becoming a “spinster cat lady” but I can’t wait for my cats to arrive from Spain on Tuesday night just to have some company!! haha  How sexy is that?  Hmmm, not very!

So when my friend Anand invited me out to Chennai this weekend to meet some of his friends, enjoy the sights, eat yummy food and — wait for it — have some wine and a couple of drinks… I hopped on the first flight out.

I arrive at the airport with 1 hour and 15 minutes to spare, thinking I could sit down somewhere and have a nice lunch before my flight.  D-E-N-I-E-D! haha  At the Bangalore airport, men and women are not treated fairly at all.  Women are forced to queue for security checkpoints in a completely separate zone than men.  The reason for this might be a benefit for them due to the fact that some India women might have a problem with being scanned by the metal detector wand in front of other people.  I don’t understand this problem but I think it all started there.  And I really haven’t asked around about this but I assume that this is the reason why there is segregation here???!!!!  So I queued as I was told.

From the start it is complete bullshit.  Then men’s section has 4 teams/lanes for luggage scanning, our area has only one.  So every time a little gramma packed something suspicious in her floral matching luggage set, the whole queue would STOP because the security guy had to open up gramma’s luggage, etc etc.  A woman in our queue even went so far as to complain about all of this but no additional lanes were opened up for us.  I felt terrible for the women with toddlers who were starting to get fussy, what hell for them.

The security check point at Bangalore INTERNATIONAL airport. Men in one queue with several lanes open, staff in one queue with 1 lane open, and all of the women in another queue with ONE lane open.

So it turns out that all women in India are possible terrorists.  At least that is how it feels.  The typical protocol at an airport goes like this: queue, arrive at area with plastic boxes, remove shoes with heels or boots and place in box, place liquid shiz and all metal items on person in one box, remove laptop and place in box, place boxes and luggage on x-ray conveyer belt, walk through metal detector.  If you beep, they will scan you.  If you don’t beep, you are free to move on.

Not in India.  We are all possible carriers of something metal and dangerous.  Every single woman is forced to enter a small cabin, stand up on an elevated box, and be frisked.  All of us, even if the metal detector doesn’t beep.  What kind of insanity was that?  I wonder if it is the same at all Indian airports?  Ohhh I hope not!  I think I will need to go to an ashram and learn to find my inner peace just to help me go through India’s security check points stress-free.

In fact, with that said, I wonder if Indian women even realize how things are different in virtually all of the rest of the world?  This was frustrating, made me feel segregated (which I think typically is never a good thing), was time consuming, and inefficient.

On my way to the airport for my adventure in Chennai 🙂 Woo hoooo, dinner parties, cocktails…a social calendar finally!! Can’t wait.
Well, after about 30 minutes of waiting (and our line was not huge, only maybe 15 – 20 women in front of me to begin with!!!) I passed through the metal detectors, which didn’t even appear to be ON, and I went into the little cabin.

In all fairness, the second part of my poor Indian domestic air travel experience is really my own fault.  Like I have done for so many years with any weekend trip, I only packed a carry on bag and had had checked in online and printed out my boarding card the day earlier.  I did read the “small print” that said to go stand in line at the check-in counter to have my boarding pass validated but I thought it was bullshit.  I mean, someone on this planet tell me exactly, WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF PRINTING MY OWN BOARDING CARD AFTER ONLINE CHECK-IN IF I STILL HAVE TO STOP AT THE CHECK-IN COUNTER???  Seriously.  Someone please leave a comment and tell me why Jet Airways offers this amazing/wonderful/fabulous service and then makes me queue anyway?  I guess barcode check-ins like in London and at Barcelona BCN and so many other airports around the world are a long way off here in India 🙁

So once I was in the cabin with the grumpy security woman, stepped on the raised box, and was frisked…she took one look at my boarding card and said I had to go back downstairs to check-in and have it validated.  I tried to argue but “no ma’am, it is compulsory” was all I got out of her 🙁  So I had to go collect my bags and laptop, walk back downstairs and stand in line.  There was a kid who helps Jet Airways with people’s baggage walking by and I asked him if he could stamp it for me…and he did! haha  WTF?  The validation process is not so super security proof, I think??? He didn’t even check my passport.  hahaha  Anyhooo….went back upstairs, passed through the security thanks to a really nice guy who was there when I discovered my stamp issue and was out…just in time to board my flight so no nice lunch 🙁

Ahhhh so I am really late and can’t share any more but will log on later tonight to share my tales for AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL Chennai.  Wow, this seaside city is stunning and architecturally rich.  Not quite as cosmopolitan as Bangalore but definitely prettier.

XOXO from Chennai

© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia's Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!