In 2011, Vikas Dhurka made a stupid mistake. The playwright and tech industry worker fell asleep in the Lufthansa business lounge at Frankfurt Airport -- with his phone, wallet and all his travel documents sitting on the table next to him. When he woke up, they were all gone. What followed was a misadventure so dramatic, Dhurka decided to transform his experience into a new play, Airport Insecurity.
Although the Silicon Valley-based Naatak theater company didn't originally intend the play to have political consequences, artistic director Sujit Saraf says it now speaks to a visceral fear people have about their ability to travel in to and out of the United States. "Once you start coming for people for weird reasons which have to do with their race or religion or ethnic background, at some point, no one is safe," Saraf says.
A travel nightmare
Dhurka is an Indian citizen, working in the United States on a green card as the senior director of product marketing at Pixelworks, a semiconductor company. At the time of his misadventure, Dhurka had lived and worked in Silicon Valley for more than a decade. But without the documents proving he belonged in the U.S., he was told to book a flight to India and prepare for a long wait -- up to two months. You can just imagine the phone call to his heavily pregnant wife in Fremont, about to give birth to their first child, alone.
Fortunately, after 48 harrowing hours in Frankfurt, a friendly agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security helped Dhurka make it back in time for the birth of his baby boy.