November 8th, 2010
05:08 AM ET
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) –Traveling with President Obama whether domestically or abroad always means going through several layers of security screening. But Indian law enforcement officials have taken security to an unusually high level.
Entering the gate to the sprawling compound took nerves of steel.
There was pushing and shoving before my name was finally spotted on a list and I was allowed inside. My black shoes covered with a thin layer of dust.
My skin covered with bug spray to ward off pesky mosquitoes.
But as I was preparing to place my bag on the conveyor belt for screening, I heard loud voices and the only word I recognized "laptop" stopped me in my tracks.
What officials were trying to tell me was that people with laptops should step aside because for now we would not be allowed to go any further.
There were several minutes of animated discussions then suddenly laptops were again legal.
I placed my bag on the belt after I helped the operator unhook the strap of a purse that was jammed in the machine. "Stop the belt," I shouted twice.
From there I went through the airport-style metal detector then came to know a security guard quite well when he used a wand and his hands to seek out any additional contraband. Let's just say it was an intimate pat down.
That was where my chewing gum and lip balm were confiscated. "Really, my lip balm," I asked. "Yes" the security official said. But he apparently didn't have the last word on my lip product.
An elderly man and woman sitting in lawn chairs in the shade were given the small tube for closer inspection. They discussed the matter privately for a few seconds then I was asked, through hand signals, to apply some to my lips. I did, then accidentally dropped it in the dirt. I was allowed to take it in, but after all that I threw it in the trash.
Next I had to explain the rest of the contents of my bag. Makeup, face wipes, Ipod, phone cords. That is where my water bottle was seized.
After another five minutes I was waved on.
You would think that this thorough screening would have cleared me for a trip to the Situation Room, but alas my journey to the front row seat of the venue was only half way through.
After no more than 20 steps I was stopped once again. My credentials were reviewed and that wand paid a visit to my body yet again.
Surely this had to be it? But instead I was inspected twice more within steps of each of the security stops.
Didn't that uniformed officer just see me going through the same thing just steps away?
Fortunately the joint statement and press availability by President Obama and Prime Minister Singh was still hours away. There was no rush when I strolled up to the front row of the mostly empty venue which was under a sprawling large white tent.
The stuffed white chairs, beautiful flower arrangements and the nearby soothing sound of a garden fountain made me forget what I had just been through.
We hear so much about national security that this experience got me thinking, wouldn't the world be a much safer place if we just screened everyone as if they were going in for a meeting with the leaders of the U.S. and India?
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