Friday, 14 August 2015

Arrival, Check and Honest Declaration

“Is this baggage packed by you?” asked the custom inspector up on landing at the Australia International Airport.

“Yes.” I replied but partly it was done by my helper back home, I put the stuff inside and he did the cello taping.

“After opening if anything that comes out of the bag would be yours, right?”

“Yes.”

“You will not deny later that, should some contraband comes out of your bag, it is not yours.” It was between statement and a question, yet I gave an affirmative answer. The grueling questions with cameras, some hidden and some exposed made me squirm and perspire doubting the content of my own baggage. I was angry and regretted for treating those chilips so nicely when they visited our country, and here they are treating me like a drug dealer.

It all started when a small dog in a leash started the digging motion on my bag after sniffing my bag. The woman holding the leash put a tag on the bag saying, “Oh, my dog is interested in your bag”


I was thinking what all things am I carrying other than the clothing – I had a couple of bottles of liquor, some packets of chewing tobacco, some first aid medicine and doma and pani together with the lime, that were demanded by fellow countrymen who were already there.

The inspector instructed me to open the bags. They are so careful to not to touch it themselves. I opened the bag and lay the content of the bag on the floor. They inspected the Baba – chewing tobacco and one of them said, “Has he declared on the declaration form?” The declaration form was provided to us in the aircraft to be filled and I filled it as honestly as possible.

After seizing the pani, claiming it to be a fresh agricultural leaves, rest of the stuff were neatly packed and let it be taken. The trekking boot that I was carrying was given a thorough bath cleaning the mud that stuck in between the nooks and corners of the soles.

I was the last person to get out of the terminal going through all the hassles of checking. The doma and tsuni without the pani was useless, yet my friends who were waiting outside smeared some lime on the doma and had it without the pani. They even suggested of going inside and requesting them to give some fresh leaves to eat at the terminal only.

I was glad to be out of the terminal but bit apprehensive to be in the deeper region of the strict picture that was painted on arrival. The declaring the stuff that I was carrying, honestly, in the form partly saved me. Thank god, I did not try to act smart like we are accustomed to doing it here. The Baba and liquor and medicines are not allowed to be carried above certain limits, I learned later. However, if it is declared they reward the honesty, I guess.

That may be the reason why, I was advised to declare everything that had been asked in the form, by the people who had experience. Otherwise, I would have landed up paying up huge fines.

If the stuff are declared honestly back home, what would be the incentive? Or would it be an easy catch for the officials at the terminals? Doesn’t our system encourage lying rather than honesty? The bubbles of questions burst in my head, as I was speeding in a car on the smooth road, where no cars were coming headlong.