The very idea of being stuck at an airport for more than a few hours of my day sends shivers down my spine, the thoughts of 17 years there would surely send me to an early grave!
But this is the story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, aka Sir Alfred Mehran, who spent 17 years of his life in the confinement of Charles De Gaulle airport due to misplaced papers which meant he could not enter the UK. He could not return to his war-torn homeland either because of the safety issues so he was stranded with no identity, nowhere to go and no place to return to call home.
The story is so unique and it is difficult to believe this could happen to anyone. The character himself comes across quite lovable, he has some great lines in the book, and although the circumstances are quite tragic, you cannot help but laugh at some of his mannerisms and ways.
Source via wikipedia.org Sir Alfred sitting at his bench in Charles De Gaulle airport
It has been reported that the idea behind the big 2004 Hollywood film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg, The Terminal, was inspired by the Sir Alfred’s own terminal experience. It is sad to think that even as this movie hit the big screen, Sir Alfred was still at that terminal, waiting for his freedom and would have never gotten the chance to see it on the big screen.
I would recommend this book as it’s quite simplistic in some ways, there are sparks of comedy whilst also sorrow and tragedy, but it will keep you entertained throughout.
It is quite a short read at less than 300 pages, but you feel quite privileged to read such an incredibly unusual story. It will make you laugh and cry, and more than anything it will probably anger you to think a fellow human being could be treated this way.