Society & Culture

Breeze Over the Border With Me

Let’s conduct a thought experiment.  Imagine that you have just landed at New York’s JFK International Airport after a 15-hour flight from Mumbai.  Although you splurged for a business-class ticket, the extra-large seat, constant parade of food, and infinite selection of video entertainment didn’t help you forget you were trapped in a steel tube 35,000 feet above the earth for 63 percent of an entire day.  The pilot announces the local time as soon as you touch down in New York.  You look at your watch, still set to Indian time, and laugh out loud because your circadian rhythm begs to differ with the time he states.  Nothing would make you happier at this point than a shower and a good night’s sleep in your own bed.  However, as miserable, tired, and disoriented as you feel, you still have to get home from the airport.

After disembarking you make your way through the endless, snaking hallways of JFK’s international-arrivals area.  A low murmur starts to fill the passageway; its volume increases with your every step.  Eventually, you get to its source.  You now stand in a room with several hundred other travelers, half of whom are queued under a sign reading “U.S. Citizens,” the other half under a sign reading “Non-U.S. Citizens.”  You hop on the end of the  U.S. Citizens line and cool your heels for 15 minutes in the same spot...

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