Hurdles Before The Ride

“You cannot be permitted to leave the country” glowered the man behind the desk at the immigration counter. He was furious- almost screaming at me “Your passport is damaged” he cried, pointing at a tear along the rib of my passport cover. “You will be deported for sure therefore I cannot let you pass from India”.

I was shell-shocked. WHAT? That small tear will disqualify me from entry into Spain? “Please help me!” I pleaded – “I have to go at any cost. You obviously do not have any objection to my passage – so please allow me to go through and I will convince the immigration authorities at Spain.”

The immigrations officer had close-set eyes and they looked confused… I could almost hear his brain thinking. He seemed like a cornered – and enraged bull. He glowered at me- while I beamed my most innocent, child-like smile… inside, my heart threatened to pop out of my thorax. He hesitated… shook his head while in my mind I was hoping, praying, giving him reiki and hoping I could hypnotize him.

Finally, he buckled – “You will be deported for sure! But what the hell! I will allow you to pass- but you have to give me in writing that if you are deported you will not hold the Indian authorities responsible.” I heaved a sigh of relief – YES! I scribbled the note and waited with bated breath… the thump of the immigration cleared stamp was the most beautiful note I had heard in a long long time. Throughout the flight I switched between prayer, meditation and reiki… and there was only one wish – let me clear immigrations without any more incident.

The immigrations queue was long at Valencia airport. There were only two officers – the lady seemed in a better mood and returned smiles… the gentleman officer was grumpy as hell. I crossed my fingers – let it be her. But he beckoned to me… and gingerly I stepped forward with Anu. “Holla Senor!” I beamed my most cheerful, charming Spanish hello… and the man paused. He looked up- expressionless- and then just as the first rays of light break through the darkness, I saw the wrinkles gather around the corner of his eyes. And there it was- a smile. And a “Holla amigo!”. He took our passports while maintaining eye contact with me. Glanced down at the Schengen visa and banged his stamp onto our two passports. No inspection of the passports, no questions, no hesitation… he handed it back to us – “Welcome to Spain!”

Knees weak with relief, we walked out of the immigrations queue.

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