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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chp 166. Shakedown at Lengpui Airport

Landed in Aizawl yesterday, weary and dazed,
After 11 months in Delhi, filled with magic.
Flew past myriad lumbering gigantic clouds
A view guaranteed, to take your breath away;
And into the valley of mist and gorges
where Lengpui airport suddenly appears in sight

Took two steps outside the rickety ‘ol plane
And smelled the cool air so clear and crispy -
A mixture of summer and winter aroma
Both battling for domination, the latter succumbing.
And also a whiff of flimsy smoke and haze,
produced by the farms which were burnt for yield.

Was stopped by the cops, near the terminal exit.
“What’s in your bag?” they inquired menacingly.
“Books, clothes and computer,” I meekly replied.
One officer poked my bag with his stick,
while the other studied my face and height (!)
“Open it!” they commanded eventually.

As I fumbled for my keys and dignity,
I felt relieved in many ways.
Sure glad I’ve quit drinking my life away,
for there ain’t no booze in my bag.
Sure glad yesterday was a “dry day” in Delhi
for I couldn’t bring home booze for my friends.

After a futile search, they apologized,
and explained why they had to search me.
My bags were large, unusually very large,
as I took with me, all I had from Delhi.
They weren’t searching for alcohol or drugs,
they just thought that I was a “sumdawng”!

As I left the cops, all smiley and friendly,
I realized how ridiculous this seemed to me.
Mizoram, a state where alcohol is illegal,
Yet with a porous source of supply at the airport.
And when the cops do check your bags there,
They check for shoes and clothes, not booze!

Footnotes for my non-Mizo readers:

Sumdawng = An entrepreneur who usually buys the goods (clothes, shoes, accessories etc) himself/herself from other markets at a low rate and then carries the goods with him/her back to Mizoram so that he/she can sell it there with a large profit margin. They cut out the middlemen in the supply chain for profit maximization, à la “American Gangster” movie.

This however, is not allowed because they have to pay taxes for such goods entering Mizoram, which they shrewdly avoid by claiming the goods to be of personal belonging or asking other passengers with lesser luggage to carry the goods for them, until they get past the custom and tax officers.

Dry day - 2nd March, Sunday, 2008 – The day before I left Delhi was a “dry-day” (all wine-shops in Delhi NCR closed) due to some Punjabi festival.