I wish I had a fantastical story about how I then ripped apart the metal bars on my window, and ran out on to the tarmac toward freedom. Followed by survival as a 007-esque fugitive, dying my hair blonde to escape recognition… but, alas, this didn’t happen.
At 11am, I saw the first female airport employee during my 8 hour stay, who also knew some English. She came into my room and said (very ordinarily), “Congratulations, you have a visa.” *smiles all round*
After finally figuring out how to leave customs, i.e, realising that there is a form to fill out, finding an English version of the form, filling it out once, waiting in line, getting to the counter and being told that I needed to fill it out twice, going back, finding ANOTHER English version of the form (there were zero English forms so I had to ask around), filling it out, and waiting in line again to have my luggage scanned – they were easy on me thanks to the Australian-passport-privilege effect – then I walked, rather calmly, out of the freaking airport!
* * *
After meeting my cousins who were working tirelessly on the outside during my 8-hour episode, they explained to me that I was actually REALLY close to being deported. But thanks to the big fuss that they were causing by calling on all their contacts, the airport staff apparently all knew of a Subhi B who they presumed would be a male (based on my name, that is, because it is predominantly a male name), but who turned out to be a young woman with only one piece of luggage, which is very strange for someone who looks Uzbek.
All the staff were apparently worried about treating me badly because somewhere along the line of communication they assumed that I was a spoilt millionaire’s or politician’s child who had just arrived in the country without even bothering to get a visa (all ordinary people arriving in this fashion are apparently supposed to be deported so this must have solidified their assumptions.) Apparently, they thought my cousins were my employed caretakers, and they offered to move me to a hotel instead of keeping me waiting at the airport, but my cousin didn’t want the untruths to be revealed so he didn’t let that happen.
Uzbekistan is a country that is run on “connections” and upsetting someone “high-up” can have real damaging effects on one’s life – so this special treatment based on the assumptions about who they thought I was, is a plausible story, and it actually happened, to me.