It is amazing how a naive imprudence may cost someone a lot of money as well as embarrassment. Some time ago, a couple who are my friends had taken a trip to the mighty States. The trip was sponsored by their daughter working there. The excitement was apparent. They exchanged long phone calls with their dear daughter. The visa formalities posed no problem, and their tension over the issue seemed unfounded. The authorities barely asked them any questions it seems. Their working status and the guileless look on their faces must have confirmed that they were no terrorists!
As D-day neared, the packing plan was afoot. On advice, they purchased the new concept “thermals” to keep warm during the cold winter of the West. Tips kept pouring in from all quarters ranging from “foreign returns” to “armchair advisers”. All this was promptly e-mailed to their daughter who filtered the various bits of advice, added some of her own and mailed back. My friend lovingly prepared various snacks and savouries for her daughter. Some delicacies were outsourced from relatives eager to do their bit.
Interestingly, a bunch of bananas which had grown in their garden was ready for harvest, as if to join the couple in their trip. The bananas were enormous, luscious looking and of a wonderful yellowish red colour. The mother in her prompted my friend to pack just two for their daughter as a cherished home-grown product.
Little did she know what was in store for this fond gesture.
The take-off day arrived and the couple left with excitement and anticipation of visiting one of the most developed countries and more important, their child. After a long journey, when they touched down on US soil, they were in for a jolt. The scanner at the airport picked up the bananas in the bag, and the couple were detained like offenders as a hectic parley ensued amongst the authorities as to the course of action to be taken. The object of offence was removed from the bag and passed around. Alas, the bananas could not plead in their defence.
The couple were flabbergasted at the fuss that the innocent fruit had generated. At best the nutritious seedless fruits could only have been eaten. By no stretch of imagination, a farm could have been cultivated!
The authorities cared a jot for sentiments. The humble bananas met their illogical nemesis inside a trash bin in addition to costing the couple a few thousands of rupees in penalty, of course collected as mere hundreds in dollars.
Although their entry started on a wrong footing the wonderful holiday that followed in the salubrious country made the couple forget the “bananas under the scanner” until a recent discussion. Apparently pragmatism should rule over sentiments while travelling overseas.