Waiting in London

I came into the UK on the 9th worried that they wouldn’t let me in with proper grounds for concern. After being denied entry when I was coming in from Paris at the end of 2009, this was my first attempt to come back to the UK. We had contacted the consulate and the UK Border Agency and even spoken to immigration lawyers to make sure that if I was trying to enter the UK I wouldn’t be turned around and sent back on the next flight.

I arrived to London with a fair amount of apprehension. I was called up to the counter by a South Asian pregnant woman and was hopeful that she would go easy on me but no dice. She grilled me and then pulled me aside while they did extra checks on me. I had come with a return ticket, a letter from IFC stating that I was on temporary leave and identifying how long I had worked with them and a letter from my law firm stating that I would be starting in the fall. All of this did not ease their worries. They grilled me with questions and kept letting me know that they weren’t believing a word I was saying. Finally, after making a few calls, the lady came back and told me that she was going to give me the benefit of the doubt and let me land but that I MUST leave on Tuesday or I would be deported. I laughed and held up my hands like a scout and promised that I would leave on Tuesday. She said, Well you better or you will be deported. Again, I laughed and said, I love my job! I would never overstay! She said, That’s fine because if you do, you will be DEPORTED!

On Wednesday afternoon Feraz and I got on a flight to Scotland, just before the mass airline crisis took place. Luckily for us, we had already booked a train ticket to Birmingham and weren’t stranded in Scotland. We were thankful for that and thankful we had a ticket! The trains were jam packed even on Friday and that was before people had really fully begin to realize the implications of the eruptions. It seems that its becoming rather impossible to even get a train ticket at the moment because of everyone’s desperation to get home.

My return flight to Istanbul was to be on Tuesday but as of now all flights for Monday have been cancelled which makes me think it might be quite unlikely that the flight will go off without a hitch or at all. For the most part, I’m happy that these precautions are being taken. All it would take is for one plane to go down to really set off mass hysteria and to hurt the aviation industry even more than this US $200 million a day crisis already is.

As for my status here, I am going to email and call the Border Agency but there really is little I can do beyond that. On the one hand the lady’s threat of deporting me would give me one of the first tickets out of the country. On the other hand, I’ll have to extend my holiday a little and take in some more of London’s museums and shows. I’m obviously one of the more lucky ones.

There are others stuck without a hotel or any promise of getting home anytime soon. They are stuck in airports, waiting without any compensation or hope of getting off the ground anytime soon. One of the benefits of an international family and network is that home is always just around the corner.