You'll find no shortage of unwritten rules when it comes to social etiquette, probably because one assumes those same rules go without saying. For openers, never consider wearing sealskin boots at a Greenpeace rally. Or refrain from slapping a friend on the back while congratulating that person for successfully undergoing spinal surgery. Or say anything at an airport that hypersensitive security might determine would be tantamount to terrorism. (The "Hi, Jack!" scene in the hilarious flick Airplane! quickly comes to mind here.)
But early in April, what was initially perceived as a bomb scare turned out to be a case of misunderstanding, when security spotted a woman in an airport terminal in Brisbane, Australia leaving a flight that just landed from Mumbai, India. That alone wasn't the source of panic. It was what was printed on her bag: BOMB TO BRISBANE.
After apprehending and interrogating the bewildered 65-year-old woman, Venkata Lakshmi, who spoke very little English, security was going nowhere with trying to figure out her motive. It wasn't until her granddaughter stepped in with an explanation.
It turns out that Ms. Lakshmi was printing the departure and arrival locations onto a label for her bag to mitigate its chances of getting lost in the rest of the plane's luggage. Except she she realized she was already running out of room while spelling the word "Bombay." After printing the first four letters, she left it and filled in the rest of the phrase.
Just as mystifying, is that Bombay hasn't existed for ages, with the city changing its name to Mumbai back in 1995, the same year a right-wing government took over and opted a moniker alteration to commemorate the goddess Mumbadevi. But older generations that include Ms. Lakshmi still refer to the city as Bombay.
At any rate, there was nothing in her bag, resembling anything close to a bomb, and after the daughter's explanation, Australian Federal Police eventually decided the woman was anything but threatening and released her. Still shocked over the ordeal, Mr. Lakshmi was relieved when she was finally reunited with the rest of her family that was patiently waiting for her at the arrival gate.
That said, what are the chances of an apprehension if luggage was similarly labeled by people from the following destinations? As in Death Valley, NV? Or Fresh Kills, NY? Or Slaughter Beach, DE? Just asking...