Monday, 9 August 2010

The bags

Nothing to declare

I had always been under the impression that if you did anything too suspicious in Thai airports, you'd be flung into prison and have the key thrown away. Clearly this doesn't apply to troops of Indians carrying countless numbers of yellow plastic bags across the border.

The queue for passport control (this is leaving Bangkok) was endless yesterday. Not because there were necessarily more flights, but because the passport control team takes-their-time. Anyway, we joined the back of the queue, which was somewhere near the entrance of the airport to wait.

As we stood there and shuffled forwards, I saw a group of about 15 Indian chaps. They were all carrying vacuum packed plastic bags, that were inside yellow plastic bags, with "Kolkata" written on the side in permanent marker. They were being directed by another Indian in a grey suit and a toupee. He seemed most agitated, and kept waving his hands in all sorts of directions, as he tried to get the guys to jump the line, or at least get in somewhere near the middle of the hoard.

The number of people behind us had probably doubled by this point, and the Yellow Team had managed to bypass all of them, and were just about to skip in front of us, when the bodybuilders behind us blocked them. So they were gridlocked behind us for the rest of the wait...

However, Toupee had a better idea. He shared his plan with one of the men, who then told all the other guys in a sort of Chinese Whisper, that if the men couldn't get through, then at least the bags should get through. And so the careful, and highly suspicious looking, relocation of the yellow bags took place.

As the body builders had blocked the scrawny group, they released one of their team to "subtly" stand somewhere more forward in the middle of queue. He then looked back and made the signal, which was a pretty obvious nod and hand gesticulation, and another one ran over with 4 of the bags, planted them next to him, and skipped back to the group. And so this charade continued, until all the bags had been moved to the very front of the queue.

Bags in transit

As that part of the crew were shuttling the bags forward, another bunch decided to "divide and conquer" the queue, in order to also get the men forward. And so, they hopped and skipped through the masses, ducking when innocent passengers-to-be looked around, cowering behind burqas and slipping under barricades. They made themselves almost invisible, except when they stood in front of the large ventilation fans which channelled their Eau de Calcutta rather effectively for all to enjoy.

Note that not a single security person batted an eyelid at the now 20 or so yellow plastic bags lined up at their feet. Anyway, I managed to get a gander at what was in the bags. Clothes. Each bag contained tightly folded clothes. And each bag contained the same clothes as the other.

How odd. Why would you get 15 men to carry 30 bags of the same clothes from Bangkok to Calcutta? Why wouldn't you check in the bags? Why don't you DHL the bags? Why shlep 15 men back and forth across southern Asia? Why carry them in the same look-at-me yellow bags? Curioser and curioser.

Mission Accomplished

1 comment:

  1. You are way too English. You should have picked up a bag and throw it in front of their feet. Queue-jumpers, pah!