Passports, please.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Varun and I don’t have a common citizenship and our status in Canada is somewhat tenuous. As such, every time we cross the border (by air or car) we are careful: we bring passports, permits, proof of residency, our marriage certificate and no fruits or veggies. Varun, of course, always gets picked for the “random searches”. Over the year we’ve had some interesting encounters; below are a few of the highlights.

Varun was learning to drive and we decided he’d drive through the border. He was nervous about answering the questions and tried to memorize where we were headed. The town of Friday Harbor, in the San Juan Islands. The ferry terminal in Anacortes. Where do we live? Vancouver. How do we know each other? We both are married. I pointed out that it’d be better to say “we are married”. But after an hour of standing on line, Varun had forgotten.

Border Guard: How do you know each other?
Varun: We both are married.
Border Guard: (Eyebrows raised, looks from Varun to me)
Me: To each other. We’re married to each other.
Border Guard: (Nods, befuddled.)

Last Christmas we were planning on driving to Seattle to fly home, but a surprise snow-storm made us take the last bus out of Vancouver before we got stranded. With only about an hour to pack, I filled my purse with snacks for the journey. As we approached the border, the bus driver told us we couldn’t have any fruits or vegetables and if we had them, we couldn’t leave them on the bus (I can’t imagine what we should have done with them if we had them). Anyway, I had already filled out my landing card and had checked “no fruits or vegetables”. But, as I stood in line I found a rebel clementine in my purse. Drat.

Border Guard: Do you have anything to declare?
Me: Um yes, I found a clementine in my bag.
BG: WHAT!? Did you fill out this card saying you had nothing?
Me: Yes, but then I found this.
(Fellow passengers are now staring)
BG: This is a federal offense! I don’t have to let you in to the USA. I can fine you $250. Would you like that?
Me: No sir. I’m sorry I–
BG: You wrote false information on a federal document!

Somehow, I got away with no fine and my American citizenship still in tact. Stress.

Yesterday, while shopping at the outlets in Niagara, USA, I had the following exchange.

Clerk: I don’t need to ask for your zipcode because I know you’re not from the USA.
Me: Oh, really? (Haha) How do you know that?
Clerk: I can tell you’re Canadian by your accent.

Apparently I know longer sound American (I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing).

Last summer we were headed to the USA to spend a month with my family and get married. We got stopped at the US border and had to go in for Varun to do some paperwork.

Border guard: Why are you going to the US?
Varun: To visit.
BG: Who?
Varun: My fiance’s family.
BG: Your fiance? Who is she? When are you getting married?
(I walk over and slide my american passport onto the counter)
Varun: This month. In Pennsylvania.
BG: You know that doesn’t change your status in America, right? This means nothing. Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you can stay. You need to leave the USA by July 30 or never come back.

Welcome to the land of the free.

Suffice to say, every border crossing is an adventure–and we can’t wait until we have a common citizenship! (Stand by for stories about my experiences in India!)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mindy
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 21:44:12

    Man, border crossings are stressful even for me. I can’t imagine what it’s like for you guys. At least you haven’t run into any serious problems yet! Did I ever tell you the time I was turned back at the border and had to go back to Canada?


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