Everyone thought the Tom Hank’s movie Terminal was a joke about a man trapped in transit because he could not go home or enter a new country.
Life is stranger and fiction and living in an airport terminal is no joke for some stateless refugees marooned in no man’s land.
The movie was based on the life of Mehran Nasseri, who stayed at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris between 1988 and 2006.
In the film, Hanks could not go home because of a revolution and could not enter the US because he had no passport.
Now, the world is following the fascinating movements of spy secrets whistleblower Edward Snowden who has spent the last four weeks sheltering from arrest by the US Secret Service in Moscow Airport.
He is frantically trying to arrange political asylum in Russia or Latin America to avoid arrest.
But he is not the only unfortunate stuck in an airport terminal.
Officials have admitted 26 year old Palestinian Mohammed Al Bahish has been holed up in Kazakhstan’s Almaty International Airport for four months – and his stay does not look like ending soon.
Unlike Tom Hanks, al Bahish is not allowed to wander the concourse or loiter in airport cafes or bars.
Police and customs officers confine him to a tiny room, measuring just nine feet by six feet.
Three times a day, kind souls from the state airline deliver in-flight meals. The meals include fruit and small cakes, but al Bahish claims for the whole of June he was only served beef and mushroom stroganoff.
He has pledged never to eat the meal again once his airport ordeal ends.
Nowhere to go
Unfortunately, he has no leave to go in Kazakhstan as he has no visa, but he cannot get a visa to go anywhere else and Israel refuse to let him go home.
When a guard can spare the time, al Bahish is taken for a coffee.
He has not seen the outside world except through glass or on TV since he stepped off the aircraft and is permitted no exercise or fresh air.
Every now and then, the airport’s erratic public wi-fi sparks into life and he can talk to his cousin in Sweden on a video link. The rest of the time is heart-breaking and he can see no end in sight as he has no other family and no country willing to give him a home.
Al Bahish is in Kazakhstan because he met a girl from there while working in Dubai. She is pregnant with his child and he wants to join her, but permission has been denied by the authorities.