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Cleanliness lesson

Some fun in the ‘Back room’ of Immigration at Chicago airport – where only privileged people (like me) suspected of coming to stay illegally are asked to visit.

India,US,immigration,airport,backroom,littering,dumping waste,offence,police,nuisanceI was sitting there, waiting for my turn (or for officers to wake up as I was apparently the first one at 6 AM), when a couple of elderly Indians came in.

An officer followed, very jovial, which is very much unusual in the ‘back room’. Apparently, there was something funny going on:

  • Officer: Hey, I wanna know, I’m just curious, but what did you do to be arrested for nuisance?
  • Indian oldy: Reneumeuleu (inaudible mumbling, language indistinct)
  • Officer: No, no, I just want to know, don’t stress!
  • Indian oldy: Reneumeuleu (inaudible mumbling, language indistinct)
  • Officer (losing the smile): Okay, listen, you have been in the US for 4 years and you don’t speak English?? No?? Police? Arrested? POLIIIIIICE???
  • Indian oldy: Reneumeuleu (inaudible mumbling, language indistinct)
  • Officer: Oh, so you just dumped waste?
  • Indian oldy: Reneumeuleu (inaudible mumbling, language indistinct)

India,US,immigration,airport,backroom,littering,dumping waste,offence,police,nuisanceMe: Hahaha, here you go my dear fellow Indians! Maybe India should also fine people for littering?? It could even be more profitable than increasing income tax! (Ok but then there should be proper management of waste collection and disposition, and they are not there yet…)

(Which is all a bit of hypocrite from me, since I got scolded very bad by my favorite Indian for throwing orange peel through the window in Ireland, completely backed up by my mother.)


Helen's pearl 3 - All terrorists!

My father pointed out the other day “Did you see that? Trump has not put India on his list of banned countries for visa! To what I replied that he had obviously not yet done the maths and I would like to be there when he realises that there is the equivalent of one third of the American population of Muslims in India. Trump wanted to stop terrorists coming from Muslim-majority countries – except that none of the 7 countries has perpetrated any terrorist act against the United States in the past 15 years (since Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. are not part of this list) (source). There is undeniably an imbroglio between Islam and terrorism, and at the highest level.

A few days later, I was commenting on this discussion with my Indian colleagues. Because I have been thinking that Modi and Trump could be good pals. After all I am pretty sure that the Indian Prime Minister (quite a Hindu extremist) would love to have his wall also, between the India and Pakistan! And he also likes to ban stuff, no more beef, no more porn, no more old notes, no more this, no more that. This led my colleague to conclude that to be re-elected, he would really have to do something “for the people”. And me (naively): “Is it so? Like building houses?” Mr. (Modi) Clean has built 25 million toilets in 2 years, to eradicate open defecation in public (source); so building houses must be good for the people? But no, what the people want is not toilet or houses, it is “the war declared to Pakistan, even nuking them would be better”.  

The same evening, after a long day of work, my nanny, well my son’s nanny really, decided to give me her opinion on terrorism. I must say I was listening with only one ear. But I know she resents terrorists because she’s afraid that due to the recent events she won’t get a tourist visa to go work in the United States, after 10 years of waiting for a job offer she just finally got. I was hearing some words: “terrorists, bike, young children, mattresses”. As I was not reacting, she went to get some newspaper clipping and she waved it under my nose: “No, but can you believe that, how do they dare enrolling young children in these terrorist activities?”


- “But, Helen, these people, they are fleeing terrorism it!” (She had obviously missed reading the legend).

- “Really??? Are you sure? But they look like terrorists don’t they?”

- “But Helen! All Muslims are not terrorists...!”

Helen wrapped up article, not really convinced.

The people have spoken... ;(


How to make my life more interesting…

In June I went in Jaipur and slept in the Best Western. I discovered the most incredible pillows…

And if there are expenses that I don’t mind there are these ones, expenses linked to my bed. I loooooooooooooove sleeping, and well if possible.

I discovered, O miracle, that these pillows could be purchased on line!! Obviously not in India. Transport cost from the United States (more than half of the cost of the pillows)?? That won’t stop me…


I thus placed my order on May 3. Searching on line, I found out that you can follow the USPS parcels here:  

According to the site, my parcel arrived on May 11 in Delhi (not badly huh, 8 days). On May 25, it arrived in Mumbai, more exactly at the customs.

And on June 2nd, bam, the killer message: “Retention reason: High-been worth goods - Official Customs declaration required.” Bouhhhhhhh!!! I want my pillows!!!!!!!!


I won’t give-up so easily; I put our admin on it. She gives a few calls, makes me sign a bunch of papers…

After that, I go on leave and two weeks later, I return to the office. What awaits me?? Nothing!! I reactivate the admin then decide to call myself. I thus call the Mumbai Foreign Post Office. Wow, the chick speaks English!! She tells me that my parcel is indeed stuck with the customs and she gives me the phone number. I call. Wow the guy speaks English!! He asks me for the details of my parcel and asks me to call again. 10 calls later, I get to talk to his colleague and this is the end of my luck… Firstly she doesn’t speak English and she somehow makes me understand that they have no entry for my parcel. Ah. The story of the snake biting its tail…


I end up asking assistance from my assistant who finds 5 different numbers, each one telling her to talk to someone else, until it is 5:00 PM and everything closes. There I start becoming a pain. I want my pillows.


And there we are. A gloomy Monsoon morning. A guy arrives in the office with a large parcel!! And an invoice (bah yes custom fees (25% of the price, transport included, they have no shame). 50 days, not so bad huh??

Morality of the story: good things come to those who wait. I wonder now why I did not simply wait…