I’ve always been rather fascinated by borders. If you live in Australia you need a passport if you plan on going anywhere offshore, except to Tasmania contrary to what some people believe.
My most vivid memories involving passports are from the time that David and I travelled to the UK via China and Russia. I was travelling on a British passport while David had an Australian one.
As we travelled by train the passport control officers would usually come aboard at the border to check passengers passports. Most of them did not have a lot of English. In our compartment were two other tourists, one carrying a Canadian passport, the other a Japanese one. It was quite unnerving the way they would stare at our photos and back at us stony faced. Sometimes we had to leave our compartment and stand in the corridor while it was searched. We heard that some Chinese passengers were put off the train. I have no idea whether their passports were not in order or they were stowaways .
Some weeks later we arrived in England on a ferry from Rotterdam. Passport control at the ferry terminal had two queues. One for British and EU passport holders and one for non EU. I joined one queue and David the other.
Surprisingly I was processed very quickly. The officer even said “Welcome home.” although I had not lived in England for more than twenty years. David meanwhile was still working his way to the head of the queue. I mentioned this to my officer and he quickly called David over to join us and stamped his passport on the spot. I guess it did help to be married to a British citizen on that occasion. I wonder if that queue is going to be way longer after Brexit?
Travelling with a new passport last year I noticed that passport officials still stare at your photo and at you with a stony expression. Perhaps they are just concentrating.