I was surprisingly much calmer about going to Portugal in November 2012.
Having travelled to European countries such as Spain and Italy in previous years, I was often stopped by border control and quizzed about my journey. Where are you going? Why are you going there?
I readily accept the need for tight security for all our sakes but really frustrating when you have a short connection and at best of times you are having to rush to ensure you don’t miss your flight, so when you are shifting from one to foot to another because you are desperate to get onto your flights, you automatically look very guilty, which means they ask you even more questions. Oh joy!!
Why me? Well I wear a head scarf, I’m Muslim, I’m a women and women that is travelling alone. What a combination.
So, I decided that I would not wear my scarf when I travelled in Europe. Controversial decision, particularly coming from the South Asian community where it would be seen as a betrayal to me religion; selling out to the west and even worse being turned!!
Ok, maybe a bit extreme but I knew that I would always had to justify my decisions.
As a Muslim woman, I was confident in myself about my decision and was well aware that I would be challenged on this in time to come.
What I hadn’t banked in was that I would not only be challenged on my beliefs, but also on my gender, my religion and my citizenship.
I faced my first challenge in Portugal.