Leaving India in My Rearview Mirror

India airport security is tight.

Leaving India has its own perplexing challenges.  On our departure we still had rupees.  I was anxious to exchange them for dollars, but Indian authorities had other plans.  Too many assassinations and terrorist attacks have brought Indians to constant fear and unparalleled security.  Pakistan is their worst enemy.  They have exhausted every effort to take security to an extreme and travelers wanting to exchange money is the least of their concerns.

When we got to the airport to leave India, another surprise.  As soon as we got in the departure area, everyone was body searched.  Four security men per suitcase dumped the contents of our luggage on a table.  While I watched our neatly packed bags turned inside out and rifled through, I thought it’d be their problem to get those bags repacked and rezipped.

No problem.  They half zipped and stopped at protruding lumps;  then machine wrapped each suitcase with wide packing tape.  Around and around and around.  I know about the suitcase wrapping kiosks in airports and have even used one once.  But this wrapping surpassed that.  Even the handles were obscured under multi-layers of tape.  

Once home we just thought industrial staples were difficult to remove.  It took several days working on and off to remove enough tape to get the bags open.  At first we tried to stick sharp knives, icepicks, and scissors between the tape and suitcases.  That didn’t work.  Just damaged the outsides of the luggage. Scissors won’t cut sideways and the scissor blades and other tools were immoblized by the strength of the tape.  Adding an element of danger were the tools that protruded.

One time I extracted a piece of tape a foot and a half long; the only time I got a piece of tape that long.

I was proud of it.  I saved it to show John.

Accidently the tape adhered my inner calves to each other from my knees to my heels.  When I managed to stand, I thought it’d be funny to pogo into the office to show John.  Pogoing loosened the tape thereby defoliating my inner calves.  I didn’t get to show off, but I didn’t have to shave my inner calves for almost three weeks.

I thought back to all the security: cameras, armed guards, “NO LINGERING” signs, soldier-filled turrets, and sandbag wrapped embassies and government buildings.  Why bother?  That tape and those staples alone can be used to thwart terriorists in more creative ways.

Tip:  Going to India.  Take your own Charmin, Cipro, and Germ-X.

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