maandag 2 juli 2012

How to get the motorbikes?!

I know it's been a while that you've heard from me. It seems hard to find the time to write now that we're on the road.

So at Thursday I left the Ashram to go to Delhi where I should meet up with Marika again. I was totally overwhelmed by the attention I had from my yoga classmates. They made my goodbye very special. Shea gave me a beautiful moonstone ….. for a save trip and from Madeline I got a handmade booklet in where alle the people from my yoga class wrote really nice thing in..... What an attention just for me.... Jagat gave me his necklace that we'd used for the chantings... It was hard to leave all these nice people.....

The train ride was ok as ever. Since I bought a dongle, I was able to have internet excess even in the train (sometimes). A good way to overcome the 6 hour ride. It is also a good way to see something of the country because you cross places where you normally don't come.

Again at midnight I arrives at the hotel in Delhi where I again had to wake up Marika. The next morning we left to the airport to go to Calcutta to finally pick up our bikes. We were totally excited. In Calcutta we were welcomed with rain.... But luckily that stopped after a while. We wanted to do as much as possible about the paper work: the clearing of the bikes, so we decided to directly go to the clearance agent, that our Indian shipping company had suggested. As we came closer to the given address I started to worry. The neighborhood was not that good. We stopped and decided that Marika should stay in the taxi and I should search for the office... We had all our luggage still with us and there was no way that we were going to get that out of the taxi at that place. After 30 minutes I found the office....... somewhere at the back of the shabby buildings at the 4th floor. A tiny room. The man didn't seem to no what a carnet the passage was, the document that proves that we were on transit and not wanted to import our motorbikes, so that we don't have to pay taxes every time we enter a country. But he had a colleague who did seem to know some more and he left with our papers.... After the man left, the agent told me his fee: 95000 Rps (1400 euro).... Now I knew that he didn't had a clue what we were asking for.... I immediately asked for our papers to bring back, but he started to bargain about the price. I new it was pointless to discuss this, so I again asked back the papers. At that time I realized how vulnerable I was and started to panic for a moment. What if.... The Carnet is worth a lot of money, we had to deposit a lot of money and without it, it was the and of the beginning... After 10 minutes that seemed like hours I got back the carnets and went away.

At the same time Marika had been waiting in the taxi for almost 2 hours.... We were standing at a place where you weren't suppose to park. An policeman came by and ordered the driver to drive away, but Marika jumped out of the car ad started shouting at the officer that there was no way that they went, because I was still somewhere in that building... The officer started to write out a ticket and Marika just grabbed his pencil and again repeated that they did't want io drive way. She had to pay 50Rps and the case was closed.... Marika the Pitt bull!

Now we had a problem. No agent, both really agitated so we decided to go to the Indian shipping agent, Globelink to ask for the bill. Mr Goutam and Mr. Dipankar gave us a warm welcome with water tea and a nice place to sit. There we decided to do the clearing our selves and asked for the address of the custom office.

As we arrived at the custom office we again were welcomed very gently. It was already 17:30 and we were told that the officer in charge was probably not in any more (Friday). Marika asked them to call and the officer was willing to let us come by to make a start at the procedure. A long one as we know now. We were expected back at Monday at 12:30.... The mornings, we found out, are not the most favorable working times..

At the custom office we were advised to go to Sudderstreet to find a nice hotel so there we went. At Sudderstreet there are a lot of hotels and guesthouses and we found a really nice hotel,the Golden Apple. Brand new. But all the rooms were booked.... We could come back the next day and could leave our luggage behind while finding an other stay for one night. We were totally worn out and had a hard time to find an other guesthouse, but we did. Again we had to pick up our luggage and walked over to the other stay with two big bags and two backpacks...... in the dark.. tired like hell....

The next day we changed to the Golden Apple and had a lazy day. It was so hot. We shopped a bit and bought ourselves a nice Indian outfit.

Monday the whole paper issue started all over. But this time we were supported in the most friendly way. We received a lot of helped at the custom office and although it was late in the afternoon, we managed to get out with all the necessary stamp and signatures. Next stop: the docks, Sonai. It was already late and had a hard time finding the right address... When we arrived, we were told to go to another office for our last signature. Again we were helped very gently by the operation Manager and other personnel. It was to late to get that done and we were a bit disappointed that we couldn't see our bikes that day......

The next day we had an appointment at another office to meet the Superintendent Customs at again about 12:00. We decided to go earlier. At the gate, we couldn't enter the docks, because we didn't have a permit, so we called the office. We had to wait for another hour. Because we weren't able to go to the office (no permit), the office came to us. Later we found out, that the people from the other office (at Sonai) already called for us and even the people from the custom office called! Unbelievable. At the gate, where we had been waiting for a while, the attending officer helped us. We all had to go to the address where we were the day before for inspection of the crate. Finally we were able to see our bikes again.

We had to wait again before we were able to go to the crate and so the inspection officer as well. He was beginning to be a bit impatient... We after wards found out, that h was a quit important man. One of the man from the docks followed him with an umbrella all the time (because of the sun. It was really hot). And then..... finally, we saw our crate again after 2 months. We both started to cry and were so happy! There it was, still in one piece!

The people from the docks opened the crate for us and even one of the office men helped out. He said after wards: I work here for over 4 years and I've never seen this before.... We then realized that we were really a special case... The motorbikes were as we left them 2 months earlier and with a lot of help, it was really crowded (one of the men from the office called some friends to come and take a look), we managed to get the bikes out of the crate, ready for inspection. We had a bad moment when the officer asked us to open the boxes, because we never delivered a packing list (wasn't necessary, they said in Holland)...... The officer asked me if he could sit on my bike to make a picture and off course I said yes. Now he had to give us his signature! And he did....
We thought to be ready, but no.... The carnets had to be signed and stamped. Marika went to the office, while I stayed with the bikes to put some things together. It was so hot..... I started to dehydrate a bit and one of the men said to me to sit down in the shade and gave me some mineral water. They all were so nice. Even the lorry driver helped me on fixing the bike...

And then finally at 19:00 we left. In the dark..... for the first time in India for me.... in a big city... And we managed to get at the hotel in one piece. And again a lot of help. We could leave the bikes at the court of the owner of the hotel. Behind a gate. Great!

The next day, after a warm goodbye at the hotel, we started our journey on bike. To Varanasi.

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