Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This isn't Even Funny, it's Just Fact!

They should be quaking in their boots!!
When the little girl who had been kicking, elbowing, staring and generally annoying me for the entire 8.5 hour flight from Brussels to Bombay was sick on me during one of the most bumpiest landings I have ever experienced, I wasn’t fazed, (relieved she had missed my Mulberry bag, but not fazed); It just meant that my return to Mumbai was equally as eventful as my departure to the UK earlier that month. We had a 4.30am flight to Manchester Airport, so it was an early one for us all, Ramesh picked us up at 2.00am on the dot and we made our way to Mumbai Chattrapathi Shivaji International airport. Unsurprisingly (well actually surprisingly to your everyday folk, but not surprising to me because I live in India) we had to join an hour-long queue to enter the airport. The police were checking passports and e-tickets before you were allowed to enter departures. No e-ticket, no passport, no entry! We never usually print off our e-ticket but today we did, halleluiah! The unnecessary queuing had really eaten into my duty free shopping time so we rushed to check in our bags, although there was no queue, again we were kept waiting. Extremely frustrated we marched up to the desk and plonked our bags on the scales, which was to the dismay of the porter who would normally do this manual labour on your behalf, (for a small tip of course). All checked in with an hour to spare we made our way to fill out a stupidly long departure form and to passport control. I showed my passport, ‘Stamp, stamp’ 'Have a pleasant trip Madame' Hoorah!! I felt like I had been released from a 5 month stint in jail!! Off I skipped merrily to buy some cheap booze ready for a celebratory clean watered bubble bath in the 5 star hotel that awaited us. My elated feeling soon disappeared when I noticed Paul wasn’t behind me; I returned to the passport desks to find Paul having a full-blown argument with the immigration officer who refused to let him pass through! ‘Where is your Visa’ asked the gentleman, 'Its there' replied Paul pointing to his 2 year Indian Visa. ‘Where is your signature’ asked the man, ‘There it is’ replied Paul and pointed to his signature. ‘Your picture does not look like you’ the man continued. (It bloody does look like Paul, no one else I know has such perfectly groomed, dark eyebrows) ‘Yes it is!’ yelled Paul! I stepped in ‘I cannot believe you are not letting him leave the country! Don’t let us back in, that’s fine by us, but let us leave for Gods sake!!!’ Paul pushed me to side before I could make a swing for him. ‘Where is your FRRO certificate to prove your Visa is valid’ continued the man. Paul visibly peed off said ‘Its at home, you don’t need it, I travelled abroad last week and I wasn’t asked for it’ (This is true, Paul had travelled the previous week and wasn’t asked for it) ‘You need it, go get it else no travel’ he replied ‘I can’t go back, I live on Marine Drive which is around an hour away, my flight leaves in 40 minutes!’ shouted Paul. ‘Well’ the man replied and made a very slight hand gesture as if to say- MONEY!
Paul outraged called for the mans boss and was escorted into a small room, in tears I followed. Would I ever get to stand in a shower again and open my mouth or be bitten by a bug without fearing for my life? Would I????? Paul explained what had happened to the ‘boss’ (Probably not the immigration officers boss but a luggage porter with a tie on) who surprise, surprise, sided with the officer and said Paul needed the certificate to travel, but if he didn’t have the certificate and wanted to travel ‘he knew what to do’ and again made a very slight hand gesture. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Paul then  remembered that he had a soft copy of this sacred certificate on his email and asked if he could use a computer to print one out. ‘We have no computers or printers’ the ‘boss’ replied. What a load of bollocks poppycock! The time was now 4.15am and the flight was leaving, Paul told me to board the flight and he would meet me there. Alone, without even a bottle of champers to keep me company I boarded the flight. When I had just settled in to my seat, next to rather plump gentleman (more to love my mom always says) I was asked to get up, which was really embarrassing as not only was I last to board the plane, I had just bashed at least 10 people in the face with my hand luggage and not said sorry! I was taken down some rickety old stairs and explained to (in broken English) that I had to identify my husbands bag, as he was being offloaded from the flight. Thinking I was going to presented with a couple of bags and asked to choose the correct one (a bit like an identity parade) instead I was asked to climb up a ramp into the cargo hold of the aeroplane. In tears I said ‘No way, Hosé’, I was wearing my four inches, the last thing I needed was a broken ankle to add to this nightmare! After being shouted at in Hindi I thought ‘F’ it!’ I clumsily climbed up the ramp and into the hold, it was actually quite chilly in there, I was glad of my jacket! I identified the bag and as promised it was off loaded. I felt gutted as I still didn’t know what was going on with Paul, I spent the whole journey home in tears (and taking advantage of the free alcohol on offer) thinking of excuses as to why I would be unable to return to India, this country did not deserve my  my husbands taxes!

Despite everthing my mood changed to the better when I landed in sunny Manchester (It was actually sunny aswell!), I felt like ET when Elliott shows him lots of new things, proper buildings, perfect roads, no children begging, shops, millions of them, no car horns, it didn’t smell, when I had a shower I was like the girl out of the Herbal Essences advert, ouuuuu, ahhhhh, amaaaazzzinngg!!! I felt so grateful to be from such a great country!!!
As for Paul, after another hour of arguing he returned home, booked another flight for later that day and returned to the airport with his stupid, crappy piece of sh*t certificate. As he approached the passport desk he kept the certificate in his pocket ‘Stamp, stamp’ he was through, not a question asked, not a certificate requested! Appalled, Paul searched frantically for the men who had bribed him, but there was no sign, he arrived at the hotel in Manchester 10 hours after me. Needless to say the FRRO will be receiving a very strongly worded letter from the Hanley’s!! 


  1. shit! That sounds like an absolutely crap experience!
    Whenever I travel, they ask me everything from what do I do to who my parents are, and once I even got told to go help the poor and needy(which is not a bad thing,I'm a law student -but from an Immigration officer!!! Go do your job for peets sake!)
    I travel a fair lot as well, nowadays, I just keep my mouth shut and dont even smile at the stupid officers. I've learnt its simpler that way. :)
    Hope you had a great break home, and did I mention that I love reading your blog :))

  2. WTF! I got pissed just reading that! If you weren't on your way to a better place I would have suggested accidentally slipping off the cargo ramp… and sue the airport! But then again… do people sue there in India? ah…I digress. Anyway…super happy to see you back and posting! Lots of us have been wondering about you!

  3. I know it was really horrible and I still can't believe it- although I can!
    Thanks for the lovely comments guys and Andrea - I can't get on to your blog! x

  4. Yeah… there has been some drama in the blogging world and I pulled it from the public eye for a bit….I haven't blogged since end of May anyway (its summertime!) Eventually it will be a read-by-permission only blog… I'll add your email when I get around to actually writing a post…LOL. I'll use the email you posted on one of your very first entries on here?

  5. oh really, ok look forward to it!

  6. really horrible experience for u, i can understand!! These kinds of people should not be forgiven... you should have approached to higher officer & complained about this,, if not stopped he will make someone else another victim..


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