I’m a little disenchanted with the whole idea of checking any bags, ever. We make it to New Delhi, with a nice and empty LHR-DEL leg of our trek. Most of our baggage joins us, but Amna’s suitcase isn’t so lucky: the stupid lady at the Philly check-in counter apparently didn’t even enter it into the system, so when Amna will see it again is anybody’s guess. We spend an hour trying to enter a lost baggage claim, but I guess BA still treats anywhere outside of the U. K. as a colony: they can’t do anything for us until the London office reopens the next day. While we wait, I get really excited because I see a tail sticking out. False alarm though: not a monkey, just a cat:(
And then there’s customs. We get so close to out, but then a guy who’s 5 feet tall at most politely asks us what’s in one of our boxes. Sameer takes the lead, casually mentioning that it’s clothes, some CDs, some network cable, and a little bit of computer equipment. The customs tool’s eyes turn into dollar signs and we’re rerouted to the x-ray machines, with our path soon upgraded to the search desk.
Next comes trying to convince someone that our thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment are worth less than $150. We’re talking our way through it well enough, explaining that we just have equipment to set up and network the computers, that we’ll be buying the valuable parts locally. However, things take a turn for the tariff when he makes us open a box and sees network cards on top. Used to interconnect computers, network cards are nothing too pricey, but they do look like they could be expensive. And therein lies our problem: the guy sees circuitry and assumes we’re bringing in tons of valuable, high-tech equipment to resell. He digs a little further, but the networking switch he picks up doesn’t strike him as valuable because it’s just a white plastic box (side note: networking switch = worth more than $100 easily, and we’re carrying more than half a dozen of them).
We plead, threaten to call the people we’re working with, and I finally interject “but the network cards are only worth like 1 or 2 dollars each.” His response was something like “no, George Bush your president and Ronald Reagan, what do they say? No lunch is free!” I try not to laugh and continue making my argument, begging him for an internet connection so I can (try) and show him that network cards sell for really cheap. We’re referred to his supervisor, who bitches him out in front of us but isn’t any more sympathetic to our case. Sameer leaves to call a government official we’ll be setting up labs with and we wait by the search desk. After a few minutes, the boss customs guy calls me back to his office, alone, to try and find the prices online. He can’t get his internet connection up, so I try another office. Thank the lord for pricewatch.com: I find the stupid things for $1.88 each. I try not to smile too widely as I show the customs guy a printout with the picture and price, and he lets us through. To be honest, the entire experience was a nice adrenaline rush...