Trust me on the Agent Thingee…

Agents…India is teaming with them.

Sometimes the cows even have to shove them outta the way there is so many Agents roaming around at government specific places, or train stations for that matter.

I used to read articles in the paper about how the plethora of agents in India was making it hard for the ‘everyday’ person to get their work completed in one day because they would have to wait in line for hours behind just one agent with 10-20 clients.  And the government was allowing it.  And I would be so mad and say to myself…

“I’m NEVER going to use an agent!!”

And so when I went to get myself registered here in India, I realized that perhaps I may want to revise that statement.

After two whole days wasted in the FRRO’s office and the constant battle to find out which form I needed and from who and how long I had in order to get this finished, I began to feel the weight of the world come crashing down on me and I just wanted to go climb under a nice shady rock.  Which is exactly what they wanted because then I would be one less person to harass them during their break work times.

Which, incidentally for you who are registering for the FIRST time even if you are a NRI or any other card holding but moving back Indian, is 2:30pm till closing (depending on office and location can be between 4 and 6:30pm).

So, I broke down and hired someone to help me with the Customs office when I got sick of NO ONE telling where my shipped items were.  Not even my shipping company could/would help me as no one would respond.  Siiiigh.

Bear hired a reputable and old shipping company/agent in Mumbai.  Within 20 minutes (and after me trying on my own for almost a month), he found my shipment safe and sound in Mumbai.  He then sent all the paperwork I would need in order to get my shipment out as well as a write up on what he and his company could do for me and how much it would cost for us to use his company to get my items out of Customs prison hell holding.

Bear and I thought about it and talked about it for an hour.  Finally we remembered what all we had gone through with just getting me registered in our own city, let alone travelling four hours to another.

We hired the Agent.

And here is what happened.  Keep in mind I have a busted up knee.  I’m also on pain meds and antibiotics that are making my stomach a little bit upset so I’m on a restricted diet as well.  I had to do it yesterday though, as we could start paying fines if I didn’t.

4am – The alarm went off and Bear turned it off.

NOTE:  At this point Bear would like it KNOWN to all the readers of this blog that it wasn’t entirely his fault that he turned the alarm off because the night before I made him stay up till midnight watching some silly chick flick.

4:40am – The alarm went off again and we jumped out of bed, packed my breakfast/lunch, got dressed in warm clothes and called our Rickshaw driver to confirm he hadn’t frozen outside waiting for us.

NOTE:  At this point Bear would like to interject to say that it was not WE that jumped out of bed it was HIM that jumped and tried to move me for another 5 minutes.  I object to this line of reasoning HOWEVER I do not directly disagree with it.  😛  He bribed me on this one.

5:20 – We’re down in the Rickshaw and on our way to the train station.

5:50 – After careening over the pot holed filled roads, around cows, and early morning idiots parked in the road with no road hazards on, we made it to the already crowded train station.  By now, I am thanking God for reminding me to put long john’s on under my salwar kimeez.  THANKING GOD.  It’s COLD!

6:06 – Am now sitting on my section (i.e. between Bear and an older man) of a three seater on the train from Pune to Mumbai.

10:30 – Status report at train station.  One husband (slightly full with two on board orders of idly and coconut chutney and chai): check.  One Gori with busted/bummed knee throbbing and sore: check.  One backpack with PB&J sandwiches and pain medicine but NO WATER AS AHOO FORGOT, check.  One long walk from our seats to actual train station exit: check.  Making husband buy 5 minute taxi ride to shipping agents office because Gori is ready to scream in pain: check PRICELESS.   😛

11:45 – We are walking into the Customs office with Agent after getting a permission slip to enter, which took about 25 minutes…all done by Agent.

12:05 – Exhausted and in PAIN again after long walk to building holding cargo and shipping Customs Officials.

1:40 – Paperwork being filled out and run around by Agent while we sit and rest.  I eat sandwich and drink water that Bear hunted up for me.  Take pain meds.  HAPPY.

2:30 – In to meet Customs Superintendant where he explains TOR rules to me.  TOR = Transfer of Residence and you can only claim this ONCE in three years.  It basically allows you to move most of your items into the country duty free.  Unless they are new or electrical and you can’t prove you bought/shipped them from India when you are moving BACK into India.  That is bought AND shipped.  Hold on to your shipping OUT ladies and gentleman because the receipt of purchase ain’t gonna cut it.

3:15 – I finally get to see my stuff.  YAY!!!!  It’s all there and appears non-spoiled/broken!  It doesn’t even SMELL funny!  I know, I sniffed my Tigger stuffed toy.  🙂  Agent finished up paperwork and bribing paying some extra fees to the floor agents at the customs office.

3:40 – Agent and Bear work out final details of having my stuff sent to our home in Pune within the next few days.

4:15 – Eating lunch with Bear at a fabulous restaurant with great (GREAT) food, great prices and great service.  NO FOOLING!  Try it, I love this place.  It’s called ah….uhm….Shar A Punjab.  Near Welcome Hotel by the Mumbai Train Station.  It’s RIGHT across from the Welcome Hotel.

7:15 – Our Agent has bought us sweets and food for the trip back and got us onto the next luxury bus outta town.

11:30pm – Another Autorickshaw ride and another big shout out to GOD for the long john’s.  We are HOME!

11:40 – On our way to the hospital to get my dressings changed as on getting home we found that I bled through a little bit.

12:15am – NOW we are home!!!!

Moral of the story is….get an Agent for that stuff that really matters people.  I watched people actually CRYING (I gave her a tissue) in that Customs office from sheer frustration and even SHE had an Agent.  There is far too much to do and know and paper’s to have signed by FAR too many people for you to know it all and get it all done in a day without losing your mind and wanting to commit hari kari and taking a few customs agents out with you when you go.

So, trust me, on the Agent thing.  🙂  And have a nice day.

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5 thoughts on “Trust me on the Agent Thingee…

  1. Boy, do I trust you when you say that one should get an agent.

    Hear this! I go to the R.T.O. (Regional Transportation Office, equivalent of the D.M.V.) and ask to have a driver’s license issued based on my CA one. Seeing the ‘phoren’ (foreign) license, I’m immediately sent in to see the ‘bada sahab’ (big boss) who asks me how it is possible for him to believe that my license is not counterfeit. He needs a letter from the agency that issued the license saying they issued it. I’m like, how would anyone know the letter is genuine either? So, that was the end of that.

    Trip two — on another short vacation to India results in another wasted half-day, except this time I had tried to have it done with no reference to my CA DL. No luck either.

    Trip three on yet another vacation: Agent takes two hundred rupees in fees and walks me through the entire process, even taking me past a ‘doctor’ who signs everyone’s eye exam without asking them to read the charts he has posted. The person responsible for actually watching me operate the vehicle asks me where I’m parked. We point to the car about a hundred feet away. He says I should just ‘take a round’ and come back and goes on chit-chatting with others. Four hours from the time I had left home, I had my license!

    Agents… what would we do without them?

    • LOL Oh man Raju….does THAT sound familiar! So many of my friends (both Indian and not) have had similar experiences here. At first I thought, “Well, no matter what I’m not going to buck the system, I’ll be able to do it without creating MORE problems by hiring an agent!!!” Mainly because I read so many stories about the every day person going in and having to wait all day (or not get in at all) because there were a ton of agents that showed up with a bunch of clients a piece.

      But THEN I was the every day person in line and having to deal with the bureaucracy and paperwork and running around and absolute BS and I was like….HAHAHAHA NO WAY NOT ANYMORE! So yeah, I guess this is just one of those instances when agents are a necessity. 😉 I’m getting one for my marriage licence, my drivers licence and my PIO. heheheheh

  2. Pingback: Trust me on the Agent Thingee… « Gori Rajkumari | Indian Today

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