Most Indian people are quite pleasant, so when you have a run in with someone who is difficult, it sets off an alarm bell. You’re either doing some thing they don’t like or they hold some power over you. I’ve learned to pay close attention when the bell goes off. And when someone is being just too nice, this sets off the high alert.
I recently ran into this situation while trying to bring a Television from the US through customs at Bangalore International. The TV was checked luggage and didn’t make the transfer with me onto the plane with in Paris. I had to come back to the airport and retreive it from customs. Three times.
The first was an exercise in Indian bureaucracy. I and a junior Air France gate agent who was unfortunate enough to be there when I arrived, ran around to all the security offices trying to get me into airport customs. When we found the right guy, produced the correct documents, filled out the proper forms and did a little shouting, I was finally let in. We arrived at customs just in time for lunch hour. We could have waited the hour, but the next international flight wasn’t due until 1am that night, so we might be waiting until then. I’ll come back.
The next time was smooth sailing through security, but the Customs agent didn’t seem to pleased to see us. We may have woke him up from a nap. They brought the TV around and when he saw the beauty of the 55” flat screen, it just made him meaner. Signal the Alarm Bell. His suggestion was that I leave it in customs and then take it back when I return to the US. I can just picture him watching every Cricket match on my TV for the next year. Then he introduced me to his boss, who was probably the nicest person I ever met. Signal high alert. After offering Tea and Biscuits, he kindly explained to me that the value of the TV was nearly $3200, but since he was such a good guy he would give me the Indian citizen exemption and the duty would only be $600. Cash please. I’ll come back.
The third time, Prakash at security waived me through with a smile. The same grumpy customs agent was there and was none too happy when I presented my $900 receipt for the TV. As he grudgingly wrote out the paperwork for the $180 due in duties, he asked his assistant the size of the TV. When she said “55-inches”, he made a snarky remark at my expense. I don’t speak the local language, but I’m sure it was, “This guy’s compensating for something.”
|My Girls with the Big Screen safely at home.|