I arrived at the New Mumbai International Airport on the second day that it opened for business. I think I had been wise in keeping my expectations in check because my baggage arrived a couple of hours after the plane landed. Well it looked like a dozen international flights came in at the same time – 1 a.m in the morning. Both porters and baggage trolleys were in short supply and often not to be found together. Little children, harried mothers, and young dudes exhausted and at the end of their tether and disappointed by the much trumpeted airport. Foreigners ( good for them) were not surprised.
My bags when they arrived two hours later, had a white cross, like Alibaba and the forty thieves. The porter now led me to the customs desk informing me en route that my bags would be searched as the pre-arrival scanning had picked up some unlawful items I was trying to bring across. The customs officer was going to say ‘open sesame’ and I would at his command open my bags and offer him untold treasures. I had found myself in a fairytale in the land where AAP had created a great awakening of the Indian conscience.
Having forgotten two wine bottles that a friend had put in my bag, I had bought another two bottles of Chivas Regal from the duty-free on landing. I had definitely breached the rule of one man two bottles. I was ready to put my head on the block and offered to surrender my two CRs, after all I am an honest citizen. But no, the righteous customs official would deprive me of that privilege and insisted that he was happy to keep just one of the two bottles of Chivas Regal leaving me to enjoy the rest. Too exhausted to argue with him, with no dollars or rupees to pay the duty or to check on the rules, I accepted his terms.
On hindsight, it was collusion. But I was struck with his matter-of-fact manner in which he conducted this affair of bribery and corruption. Or did the customs officer think he was robbing from Peter to pay Paul. It was definitely my hard-earned money that had gone into buying that bottle of CR.
So much for Arvind Kejriwal and the stirred Indian conscience – definitely not shaken yet.