India Diary - 19 September 2001

I wanted to send my pressies for the family home. There are several ways to do this: you can get the shop to do it (can be okay, can be a bit dodgy, depends on the shop), you can go to a specialist packing place, or you can go it alone and do it yourself. Me, not one for taking the easy option plumped for no.3, after all how tough can it be? I have my trusty Lonely Planet Guide to help me, right?

Ok, step 1. Find a taylor - yep, you have to get your stuff sewn up into a cotton cloth covering. Ah, bit of a problem that one. Found a taylor all right, loads of them, got round the language barrier (lots of arm-waving and, "UK, UK.. Parcel, Packing"), I even managed to buy the correct cloth, but no bugger'd do it! They're all much too far above that sort of thing with their poncy dresses and pajamas. Be like that then, I'll do it myself! Quite some time later - well to be fair, it was the first time that I'd done it! I proudly took my handy-work to the parcel office, and;

Step 2. Asked for the customs declaration form (careful to say that there were 'gifts' inside, and under 1000 rps). Filled in four copies! I lost track of where they all went, but one was stuck to the parcel, two were rolled up and tied to it...

Then, and the guide didn't mention this bit, they wanted to see inside the parcel. "You what? It's a parcel, I've filled in the declaration form...", I've learned not even to try to argue with Indian bureaucracy, it's just not worth it, so apart came my lovingly embroidered cover and everything came out. It was all checked, poked, prodded - now by this time I'm seriously losing my rag. It'd taken me ages to pack it just so, to protect the breakable stuff with some clothes, not to mention the sewing... I was starting to feel an ickle bit put upon as all I was now left with was a big pile of stuff and a small cushion cover with my folks' address on it (I was later to learn that I wasn't been singled out, every single package is checked like this! What for, I don't know, one guy after me had it much worse, things that he was sending to an overseas customer were opened, fiddled with, taken apart..). Anyway, a very nice guy obviously saw that I was starting to lose it and helped me repack the parcel. What seemed like ages later (it was ages) it actually got sent, after being re-stitched, sealed with wax, kicked (don't know what good this served - testing the packaging?), weighed, stamped, entered onto the computer, stamped again, paid for, it vanished, hopefully to arrive in Kent in, "7-10 days" - I'll keep you posted! (It got where it was meant to go with no problems).

To tomorrow...

Created by Dan Leigh 17/9/01