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Identity Crisis – Part II – Frowning Officer

Identity Crisis – Part II – Frowning Officer

East India Story is proud to publish this for the first time. This is the 1st and 2nd chapters from the soon to be released book by Sashi Sherpa. In this second part she wanted to tickle the frowning officer to make him smile. Does she do that? Read this story to know.

By Sashi Sherpa

Welcome to Indian Immigration

The officer looked at my passport, and then looked at me; he had that really serious frowning face- the kind where one starts to feel guilty even without doing anything. Since this was probably my fifteenth encounter with the Indian immigration officer, I had slowly started to unravel the mystery behind their unsmiling faces. I knew by now that they were wired and probably taught to be that way- to look their toughest.

Standing there, this really weird thought crossed my mind- how would he react if I were to go and tickle him? Would he give way to hysteria of laughter, like how normal people do, or would he be able to still control his emotion? Of course, the unavoidable question of me getting arrested after that was always there.

I could imagineme, making the headlines across all the leading newspapers of our country- ‘Woman arrested by tickling the immigration officer at work!’ Some media might even take this a little further, add up some flavour to it and run the headlines as- ‘Immigration officer assaulted in his own work place by a tiny passenger.’ And not to mention, the frenzy of national debates that medias would go into.

I could even imagine some of our popular news readers with their loud and piercing voices screaming on their channel-‘Country wants to know how did a tiny passenger of barely five feet reached the desk of the immigration office that is higher than her height and went on to tickle him? How did it happen? Who lifted her? Was there a co-passenger who helped her? Or did she climb on her own?’

Another set of media would probably create their story and give it a political twist based on religion and caste to make their TRP reach the pinnacle and oh! Don’t our people love such dramas?! Sigh!! I smiled thinking about the chaos that I would be creating- Mind it, it’s just a harmless stupid thought strictly confined within the enclosure of my cerebrum and I have a habit of concocting such funny scenes in my head, every now and then, so I can live in my own bubble of cartoon life.

Well, getting back to the real scenario- he had seen me smiling stupidly, lost in my thoughts. He cleared his throat, as if he was asking for my attention. I looked at him and with the same grim look he asked, “Why are you going to Vietnam? Are they also travelling with you?”

I think he had seen my colleague looking at me every minute and smiling with her perfectly placed thirty two teeth, even though we all had decided to take three different queues with the fear that we might end up laughing, cracking jokes on ourselves, or probably the same immigration officer would have been our victim, prompting the airport authority to throw us out.

“Yes, Sir, I am travelling with them. This is our educational trip from our office to learn about the destination,” I replied.

He pretended that he did not understand completely as to what I said and he got down straight to talking with me in Hindi.

“Kitne log hain? Aap ka kaam kya hain?” (How many of you are there? And what kind of work you do?)

I somehow had a feeling that he wanted to test my skill of speaking our national language, Hindi. Trust me, I also suffered from the Stockholm syndrome like the majority of my fellow countrymen for a long time due to the legacy left by our so-called legal kidnapper, Britishers. I had a blind faith on people who spoke in English and the ones who spoke the language with fluent flawlessness, I could just about develop crush on them immediately, and rest of the factors just did not matter.

Thankfully, I was no longer that idiot anymore, so I replied in my not-so-perfect Hindi but good enough for the other person to understand.

“Sir, hum bas teen hain. Hum bahar kedestination management companies ko India mein sell kartey hein. Vietnam mein humara company ka partner hain toh ishliye hum ja rahe hein.” (Sir, just three of us are going. We do marketing and sales for foreign destination management companies in India and we have our partner office in Vietnam.)

“Achha, to aap log travel agency hain?” he asked.(Oh, so you guys are travel agency?)

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I swear that was the question I get every time whenever I told people that I work with a consultancy firm which promotes hotels and destination management companies in India. I don’t know which part of their brain chews up the word ‘consultancy’.

“Nahi Sir, hum log humare foreign partners keproductor brand ko promote kartey hain yaha ketravel agencies ko, taki woh humara product or services use kare…..”

(No sir, we promote and sell our foreign partner’s products and services to travel agencies here.)

Before I could explain it further, he interrupted and nodded his head saying, “Achha…Achha…” (Okay…Okay…)

I doubt that he understood what I said but his purpose of making me speak in Hindi was served. There was a sense of satisfaction displayed on his face and like a magic he smiled at me, handing me back my stamped passport. I flashed him one of my cutest smiles, too.

I was no less than a warrior- no one could make them smile that easily. There was a whole straight line of cubicles, each occupied by equally scorned and frowning faces. It was difficult to point out which one looked the most sad and angry. For people who were first time overseas travellers could either have a heart attack, or could go through this serious inferiority complex. Imagine someone giving you such a sad face looking at your passport and at your face and you wonder, “Is it the picture on my passport or is it just my face that triggers such difficult emotion on people’s faces?”

Also Read: Identity Crisis – Part 1 – Vietnam

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