Why Travelling With Gunpowder (No, Not That Kind) Will Always Be Tough

Travelling to or from the United States with Indian food in your luggage? Read this

Why Travelling With Gunpowder (No, Not That Kind) Will Always Be Tough

You'll find this Facebook post on the perils of travelling with Indian snacks in your luggage relatable

New Delhi:  Anyone who has travelled to or from the United States with food - especially Indian food - in their luggage knows the dread of having to explain what's in all those Tupperware boxes to authorities at the airport. 

In a lengthy Facebook post, US-based social media consultant and journalist Sree Sreenivasan explained he was travelling to Mumbai via Air India when he noticed something odd at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport. 

"In addition to the usual issues around liquids and toiletries and electronics, there's been a new wildcard that's been introduced. ALL FOOD ITEMS NOW NEED TO BE REMOVED AND RUN THROUGH THE X-RAY MACHINE!" he wrote. "The officers told me it's being rolled out now and it will be nationwide by May (just in time for the summer travel season!)"

Mr Sreenivasan then pointed out why this new policy - if put into place as suggested by the Transportation Security Administration or TSA agents - would be a nightmare for passengers travelling to or from India.

Writing that Indians often travel with snacks and food items, Mr Sreenivasan predicted that it wouldn't be too long before a misunderstanding over a typically Indian food item would snowball into an untoward incident. Especially if passengers were carrying the delicious south Indian condiment known as gunpowder.

"HERE'S WHAT WILL HAPPEN THIS SUMMER: An agent will spot a container with a dry brown powder and inquire about it. The non-English-speaker will blurt out "gunpowder" (for that's the name for the spicy powder-activated-by-drops-of-oil beloved by South Indians and some brave Northerners). The result will be smiles all 'round at best or full-scale security panic at worst. This will happen, I promise you."

Read the Facebook post in its entirety below:

On Twitter, where Mr Sreenivasan had posted a screenshot of his Facebook post tagging TSA, a representative responded to his concerns, clarifying there was no new policy regarding the screening of food. 

As it turns out, however, most people have already had some sort of encounter with TSA officials over desi food, including - surprise, surprise - gunpowder.

"The gunpowder scenario has already played out many, many years ago. My friend... tells me her uncle told the security folks he was carrying gunpowder and was politely escorted to an office at JFK, where he spent several hours," wrote one person in response to the post on Facebook. 

Another added, "The gunpowder situation has already been happening, since a few years at least. Whoever gave it that name must not have reckoned with present times. I always advise my friends... to stick a small label on the container clearly listing out the ingredients and what the powder is used for."

"I once had to prove that mushy rice cooked with lentils (pongal) that my mom (lacking a full set of teeth) was taking on a flight to India wasn't some newly concocted explosive. I had to eat two teaspoons to prove it," pointed out a third. 

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