For the majority of us, an airport is nothing more than a place to wait for a journey to begin. But for some, an airport has become a home. In a perfect storm of unlucky events, Merhan Karimi Nasseri found himself stranded at the Charles de Gaulle airport in France for more than 17 long years.
In 1977, Merhan was stripped of his passport and kicked out of his home country of Iran for protesting against the government. He fled to Europe, seeking asylum in several countries. In 1981, he was given refugee status in Belgium, but his briefcase carrying proof of his status was stolen in a Paris train station.
When he attempted to leave Paris on a flight to England, he was denied because he didn’t have the necessary papers. Police told him to stay put in the airport until they could figure out a better solution.
Sixteen long years passed while Merhan sat on a red bench in Terminal One. He wrote daily in a journal. He shaved every day in the public bathrooms. He smoked his cigars. In the beginning, airport employees gave him food, but as his story spread, journalists began to offer him money in exchange for an interview.
In 2004, Steven Spielberg even decided to make a movie about Merhan. He called it, “The Terminal.” According to Merhan, he was given $250,000 for his story, but was unable to access the money because he was still without proof of identification.
Finally, in 2006 after 17 years in the airport, Merhan became so ill that he had to be hospitalized. He has since been living in a homeless shelter in Paris.
Some say that by the end of his stay, Merhan had gone insane. There were too many people. There was too much noise coming from the airports’ loud speakers. The wait was just too long. It was as if he was in a lost dimension.
Sadly, Merhan isn’t alone in his suffering. Several people have spent months and even years trapped in airports, mostly for bureaucratic reasons like lost paperwork or no proof of identification. Others choose the airport because they’d rather live there than on the street.
The next time you’re at the airport, take a look around and imagine what it’d be like to actually live there. Would you manage to stay sane or would you lose your marbles like Merhan reportedly did?
from Blog – Deep English http://deepenglish.com/2016/05/terminal-one/