"You're still having visa problems even though you're using a US passport?" This was the response I got from my South Asian friends and relatives this past June. At the time, I was being thwarted in my attempts to apply for visas to travel to Bangladesh and India for a new project, Borderlines, that I'm starting up with Voices Breaking Boundaries, an arts organization that I founded 14 years ago. The project aims to explore issues between India-Pakistan-Bangladesh and the US-Mexico borders.
Before I applied for the visas, I didn’t know I would encounter problems simply because I was born in Pakistan – especially if I was using a US passport and not a Pakistani one. Luckily, thanks to a Bangladeshi friend with connections, I was able to procure a Bangladeshi visa (but not an Indian one - for reasons too complicated to explain, even though my parents were both born in India).
The installation I created, Reclaiming Homes, is as much about peace as it is about anger – it's my way of carving space for myself as I come to terms with the border-ed world in which we live, where certain people can move freely, while others encounter obstruction.