15 January, 2011

Final adventure in Nepal.

Final memory of Nepal…well I guess to sum up my stay in Kathmandu my final adventure was to actually leave the country!

Upon arriving at the airport, I prepared for the usual chaos; but being a ‘tourist’ in Nepal during their infamous “Year of Tourism”. I got away with walking past some check points and only briefly fondled when I was stopped. I knew I had over-extended my visa by 3 days; but was told twice (being one to really not trust only one source) that it wasn’t a problem and I would just have to pay 39 dollars at immigration ($3 for each day of my over-stay and then some random $30 fee).

After standing in line at immigration, I was told that there is a problem. I told the kind man that I was aware that my visa was expired and that I am prepared to pay the fine. He motioned me to go through the walkway and to a booth where they could help me. I arrived there and told the woman my issue. She said, no problem and then asked me where I was from. Then I saw her cross off Slovenia on a small paper on her desk and replace it with USA. Knowing that she somehow mixed up the paper I gave her with some poor Slovene, I chose to stay silent. She then prepared an additional form for me; some kind of visa extension and handed it to me along with my passport and the wrong paper. Our brief conversation:

Me: “That isn’t me” pointing to the name on the form".
She:But you put the wrong country down”.
Me:I didn’t put down the wrong country, because that form is not mine. I did not give you that form; I gave you a different one.”
She:But I asked you your country and I crossed it out on this form”.
Me:I know you did, but I promise you, the name on that form is not my name and I did not fill that one out.” I went ahead and added, “Can you just give me another form and I will quickly fill it out”.
She:No, he must have given you the wrong one; someone else's form”. (referring and pointing to the immigration man).
Me:It’s OK, can I please just fill out a new form”.
She: “No, you go to that other counter [pointing down the way) and I will get your form.

I went to the other counter (a bank place) to pay the fine…I walked up to a glassed in cubical, glanced in and did what I have learned best while in Nepal…I waited. I kept glancing back at the lady in the other booth to see if she had my form or what I should do. I tried not to get frustrated since I still had over 1.5 hours left to catch my flight. I had been waiting for about 15 minutes for the guy or gal to come to the booth when all of a sudden a guy pops his head up inside, scaring the crap out of me! You see, as I was standing there trying to patiently wait for someone to help, silly me didn’t actually cram my neck over the little wall, nor did I bang on the glass. Instead I waited patiently unbeknownst that the little banker was taking a little siesta while the world revolved around him.

I just stared at him in disbelief, then shook my head and handed him the paperwork. Of course the total came to $39 USD and I only had 2 twenty’s and he of course didn’t have $1 change; and why should he have, he was only working at a bank…He then tried to figure out how much I would owe him in Nepali Rupees and Dollars. That was a huge conflict as I handed him over money and him handing me money and back and forth until he said I just had to give him 1000 more rupees…at that point, I was done with the process and said, “give me back all my money and you can keep my $1” which is actually what he wanted in the first place.

I then had to go back to the lady in the booth to show her I paid; then back to the immigration man to show him I had ‘bought a visa extension’ and finally one hour or so after I entered immigration, I had the little exit visa stamped on my passport; thus allowing me to actually leave the country (or at least the immigration area of the airport).

I was then forced to give up one of my 2 jars of dried pickle at the security station. I was NOT in any way happy about that, nor did I pretend to be. It was really ridiculous for them to take it from me, it was in a sealed jar and was not a liquid! I was most upset because I had searched all over Kathmandu for it until finally finding it in a shop the day before I was to leave. Nepali pickle or achar was an essential item in my meals in Nepal and is something I will find it hard to live without (until I figure out how to make my own). That is why I was soooo very unhappy at the man trying to take it from me!

With barely a glance at it, he said “you can’t take that with you” as he took both jars out of my bag. I stood my ground and said, “why can’t I take them”. He then said “what is it” and with that I had to find my calm face and say “It’s dried pickle” and then for the umpteenth time that week, I heard the reply “dried pickle?”. I held back screaming at him “YES, DRIED PICKLE, NOT THE LIQUID KIND, THEY MAKE A DRIED VERSION IN YOUR COUNTRY; BUT I SEEM TO BE THE ONLY ONE WHO KNOWS IT, (breathe breathe)MAYBE YOU LOCALS DON’T NEED TO BUY DRIED PICKLE, BUT US FOREIGNERS WHO HOLD YOUR FOOD VERY DEAR TO OUR HEARTS HAVE THE NEED TO PURCHASE THESE KINDS OF THINGS BECAUSE WE CAN’T BUY THEM IN OUR OWN COUNTRIES (breathe breathe) AND OBVIOUSLY SOMEONE IN YOUR COUNTRY REALIZED THIS VOID AND THE FACT THAT THE MANY VARIETIES OF LIQUID PICKLE CAN NOT BE EASILY TRANSPORTED INTERNATIONALLY, (breathe breathe)THAT YES, A DRIED VERSION OF YOUR PRECIOUS ACHAR IS INDEED CREATED AND CAN INDEED BE FOUND HERE IF ONE LOOKS LONG ENOUGH!”

Instead I replied, “Yes, dried pickle, it is not a liquid, so I would like to take it on the plane with me”. He tossed one at me and said “You can take one in your backpack”. I said “WHY one! Why can’t I take 2, I have 2 backpacks.”, He just turned back to his nothingness and I figured I better just be happy with one before he calls the SWAT team to come rid his security area of the crazy pickle lady.

I packed my bag back up and added a “enjoy your pickle” remark as I walked away dejected. I slowly composed myself, pushed negative thoughts out of my head and found a quiet place to await my flight to Cambodia.


Natalija said...

lol I've been living here for 6 months, how much I understand you... The immigration office part is so silly :):)

Melinda said...

Yes, Natalija, immigration in any country can be quite frustrating and yes...silly! :-) Patience is a must have!