I knew this would happen one day.
I went to the International Air Cargo section of the Ahmedabad Airport yesterday. Since this is the first ever import consignment for my new venture, the clearing agent asked me join in the process of jewelry evaluation alongside the customs' officials.
It would be an understatement if I were to say it was an ordeal. Sure it was an ordeal. It was also a muted call to support Anna Hazare's and Baba Ramdev's campaign against corruption. (While on this, I find it strange that no government seems to position itself on 'eliminating corruption' in spite of acknowledging Anna Hazare and Ramdev's demands. Probably, politicians do not feel they have the ability to rid this country of corruption. In which case, it is clear how close we are gonna get in the near future to finding any 'effective' solutions.)
Back to the ordeal.
I wait for 4 hours before I am summoned to check the consignment.
The customs guys open the bag. While checking the stuff, the man says, "Oh! This is the cost. What will be your price? Double?" Smirks! The men standing around also chuckle - perhaps to support the man's innocuous sounding question.
A higher ranking official, on his round of inspection, picks up a couple of pouches.
"This is what, silver? You are importing this?! You will sell this here?"
"Sir, we are trying it out. Let's see how it works."
"India is exporting all this and you are importing??!! Strange!"
I wonder what kind of conversations are going to ensue. He moves on.
The guy continues checking the stuff. Takes a half an hour break. Comes back. Picks up pouches. Checks at random. Keeps three pouches separate. Once done, turns to me and says, "I will take one pair (of earrings) from each of these designs."
I am lost for a couple of seconds. Fumbling for appropriate words, I blurt out, "Why would you do that?"
The clearing agent interjects, "I will explain, I will explain later."
I keep mum.
When we go out, I just quiz him about the incident. The guy says, "First consignment hai na, ek de dena. Teen toh nahi chalega par ek de dena."
After a few mins, the agent puts in his request! "Please keep one pair of earrings from that no. 40 design and also a matching pendant. Take the costs that you've incurred but leave out the profits!"
Well, there's a lot more to the story. If I combine this with the over-all infrastructure, arrangement, cleanliness and the lewd jokes and inuendoes floating among the people around, it would be nothing better than depressing.
It's a different world. One which is the sucking the world of enterprise hollow. Some more some other time.