- Do not cross into Karnataka from Goa with a Fenny bottle in your bag.
- Never let your wife take control of the negotiations at the border when you are stopped.
- Always have a camera in hand if negotiations at border turns sour.
My friend learned the above lessons on his return trip from Goa after spending the new year’s eve there! When he embarked on this trip, little did he know that this new year was going teach him the above valuable lessons. At the time of commencing the journey, he was more worried about the unruly mob in Karnataka as the state was still recovering from the death of actor Vishnuvardhan. In order to protect his car from mob fury, he promptly printed out the photos of the actor on A4 sheets and stuck it on his car. But, all these precautions were unnecessary as the journey from Bengaluru to Goa was uneventful but tiring. The return journey also would have followed the same pattern but for the encounter with the border officials at the Karnataka side.
My friend was travelling with his wife and another couple. During the customary check at the border, the lone bottle of fenny in their bag awakened the spirits of a dutiful border official. Arrack is banned in Karnataka and fenny being a variant of arrack is also banned in Karnataka! This was the first lesson. The border official refused to let them carry the bottle into Karnataka.
The offensive bottle of fenny was intended as a gift. So, the border crossers hesitated in throwing away the precious bottle of liquor. After brainstorming on the next steps, they decided to tempt the dutiful border official in forgetting his duty by paying a price for his forgetfulness. So, the person who was the most fluent in Kannada was selected for negotiations. My friend was chosen as the negotiator. In order to integrate with local working population, his employer had organized a Kannada class for all their interested employees a long while back. My friend had enrolled for these classes and time has come to display his talents.
My friend eased into his role as the negotiator effortlessly and talked to the border official. The dutiful border official was ready to feign ignorance on the arrack ban while these people crossed the border. But, unfortunately, the negotiator couldn’t quote an amount that the border official couldn't refuse. The border official wanted a paltry sum that was equivalent to the price of a bottle of Fenny. When negotiations were not leading anywhere, my friend’s wife quietly picked up the bottle of Fenny and drained the contents on to the road in front of the border official. This formed the basis of second lesson.
The border official was enraged at a woman taunting him with a bottle of Fenny. It was insult to his manhood! As a result, my poor friend was caught between the devil and the sea. Being magnanimous, he decided to ignore the insult to men and sided with his wife. The border official and my friend had a heated exchange in Kannada. My friend was once again grateful for the Kannada lessons sponsored by his employer. He used most of what he learnt for effectively communicating his displeasure! Meanwhile, his friend, who was inactive till then, started recording the entire episode using his cell phone. This was the third lesson.
By the time, the entire quarrel was being recorded using the cell phone, the border official was joined by his colleagues. Seeing the recording in progress, the colleagues, who joined in the melee, nudged the deeply hurt border official to calm down. Within minutes, the problem was solved and the two couples resumed their journey back to Bengaluru.
The cell phone helped even though it was a lousy model without a camera!
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