• this is india

This is India! (six)

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.


Did you know anything is possible in India?

Sometimes when you think the objective is impossible, especially in the chaos of India, you get a big surprise.

I spent a lot of time in airports which sucks because they are my least favorite place. I don’t even like airplanes. Trains, buses, and cars are better. Yaks, camels, and elephants are better.

What’s worse than the aiports in India are the long-ass lines at customs. Now, I should explain that Indian customs officials are very thourough…

It was a crowded day in the old Bombay international airport. The customs line was longer than usual; way out into the main walkways.

this is india

There were at least 10 booths open and it seemed to be going pretty fast, until…

One guy didn’t have the right paperwork. He was in the fast line for business people/rich people (someone tell me how to get in this line!). The customs official was all, “you shall not pass!” He was right, of course, if the guy didn’t have what he needed.

The problem that arises is “rubber-necking”. When someone has a car crash, lots of people want to not just STOP, but pull over, get involved, and argue over who’s fault it was while causing a huge traffic jam. All in a days work.

this is india

Because of the angry passenger yelling, which is more typical than you’d think in an Indian customs line, the official in the booth Ben and I were in line for stepped over to see what the problem was.

That made the guy 3 booths down curious. He then left his position to see what the fuss was.

Booths 4 and 5 started feeling left out so those officials skipped on over to add their two cents.

The further away booths were like, “you guys are ridiculous, we can fix the problem.” So they do left their positions to finally fix the problem.

Now, there are 10 officials in 1 booth which is held up because the man doesn’t have his paperwork. 1,000 people are just standing there watching, not moving.

An Indian man in the initial line starts to yell, “You embarrass India! This is why people say India is bad! Look how dumb you are all standing here so NO ONE can get through!”

Well the Indian people in line started to yell at him for being so anti-Indian. Then they start yelling really freakin’ loud. There were at least 30 men trying to yell louder than the others.

I cannot explain in words the chaos that ensued. I’m pretty sure in the U.S. someone would be tasered (okay, not tasered, but something!).

Ben and I just stood there, staying quiet, but sort of laughing to ourselves until finally the customs officials all determined the man didn’t have his paperwork. They sent him away and all went back to their booths.

This is India!


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feature image photo source


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Stef July 11, 2014 at 7:18 am - Reply

    haha yep that sounds like a car accident situation

  2. Laura July 11, 2014 at 7:43 am - Reply

    Haha! There are a lot of things in Korea, similar to these sort of ridiculous incidents, that blow my mind. These funny stories are one of the reasons you move to a new country though I suppose, to experience something totally different.

  3. Renuka July 11, 2014 at 7:50 am - Reply

    True, this is India! :D But you have to agree with me, Rachel that despite the chaos, messes and noises, there is NO country like India! Isn’t it?

    • Rachel Jones July 14, 2014 at 3:06 am - Reply

      There is NOOOO country like India! and despite it all, I choose to live here because I love the craziness! (but hate the politicians lately..grrrr)

  4. Shaun July 11, 2014 at 10:07 am - Reply

    This is hilarious! That first picture of the lineup.. just, lol.

  5. Ashley July 11, 2014 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Haha wow. This really made me laugh but I cannot imagine witnessing it firsthand.

  6. Sharell Cook July 11, 2014 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Too damn funny, and I can imagine it all too well. :-)

    • Rachel Jones July 14, 2014 at 3:03 am - Reply

      I’m sure you can! I love reading your stuff too, I just found you on FB.

  7. Empty Rucksack July 11, 2014 at 11:19 am - Reply

    This should have been your post after moving to India, and then I would have said, this is proper welcome to india. Our guests are our God :P

  8. Justine July 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    This story is hilarious. I love that first picture. All those men are crammed together like sardines in a can. Too funny!!

  9. dad July 11, 2014 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Rachel you know I need my space. Where are the women? Those guys all butt to butt is the funniest thing I’ve seen yet.

  10. Haili July 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Too funny! When I was going through customs in Dubai, everything came to a halt when saw that Xzibit (the rapper/mtv host) was on my flight and in line for customs. They all seemed to be young men and were so excited that they all left their posts to take clicks with Xzibit, and shake his hand.

    The business men/rich people line are for people with Global Entry, you can apply for it which I think involves an actual interview with immigration and pay around $230 to get one. Here’s a link: http://usa.immigrationvisaforms.com/travel/global-entry-membership-renewal

    It’s mostly for people who fly on a regular basis for work, but, man(!), sometimes it gives some of those peeps such a sense of entitlement! On my way back through DXB going home (overnight layover), the fast lane’s computer broke and they shut down the line. There were all these suits and fancy people standing around causing traffic and demanding to know where the new “special” line would be. Most refused to get in the regular line with us dregs. I let 2 American business guys in line in front of me because they seemed to be in some kind of hurry, I wasn’t and thought I’d be helpful. They complained the entire time and kept their eye on the fast lane ready to run over there if it opened up again. And then when they were up next to present themselves to the official, the fast lane opened up and they were all concerned about getting the butts back over there. “You are NEXT!”, I yelled, “Who F cares which line you’re in!”, I shook my head and told them how embarrassed they were making me feel about being a Westerner/American. Spoiled brats! haha, but global entry definitely is nice to have when the fast lane is working. :)

    • Rachel Jones July 14, 2014 at 3:00 am - Reply

      hahaha and all for xzibit, how funny! and I’ve heard of this global entry thing, I do fly a freakin’ lot but don’t think i’ll bother, and what a funny story! I hate when americans embarrass our country! :(

  11. Alex, Speaking Denglish July 15, 2014 at 8:12 am - Reply

    The sheer proximity of all those people is too much! Like can they please implement a minimum 6 inch distance between everyone. Were you just squashed amognst everyone waiting too?

    • Rachel Jones July 16, 2014 at 6:31 am - Reply

      lol i would love a good six inches while in line.. you should see the “lines” at KFC here near the beach with the drunk dudes… crazy! and yes I get right in line with them and get no personal space either!

  12. Joella J in Beijing July 15, 2014 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    haha that is crazy! Love the photos of the line. Stuff like this happens in China too (people love shouting, pushing and being nosey at what others are doing) but it seems to be even more crazy in India!

    • Rachel Jones July 16, 2014 at 6:35 am - Reply

      I love learning more about china on your blog! I don’t know much about the country in general.

  13. Ant August 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    It is really puzzling for me why Americans go to live in these countries…I’m from the “3rd world country”, originally, and had moved to the US 17 years ago–I feel terror of thought of traveling or living in those other places…wouldn’t want to experience all these things described in “This is …..” articles as grew up with it all. It is degrading, dehumanizing and horrible to live this way. It might be fun “experience” for a tourist, “for a change”–when one has a back of US passport, US profession to fall back on, and hopefully mom/dad with a house back in the West, to fall back on. But to live like this entire life? Not to even mention serious human rights violations, that these societies are condoning or silently ignoring (I’m talking about discrimination against women, child prostitution, kidnappings). Wars on local territories. Diseases. I could be rotting in earth somewhere if I didn’t move to America. I’m lucky to be here and not in 3rd world hellhole. People I know still have nightmares about “back there”. World isn’t a playground. India still has caste system and the poor there are really poor…very different experience from being a US expat. Life in the US has own problems/injustices but one can’t even compare.

    • Rachel Jones August 11, 2014 at 1:36 am - Reply

      While some like you feel terror, other Indian friends I have never want to leave because they love it here so much. I don’t think these are fun “tourist” experiences. I have been here 2 years and plan on staying much longer. My western friends (many of which were born here) love it here and won’t leave India. Obviously India has problems, but it’s not a hellhole- no one can say that unless they’ve come to live in India and can decide for themselves. It is possible as evidenced by me and my friends that people from first world countries can see India as a great place to live long-term.

      • Ant August 11, 2014 at 2:20 am - Reply

        If I feel terror, it’s for a good reason, I assure you. Perhaps your Indian friends are from upper castes, not Shudras picking human crap off the ground so that they could afford to eat a flour bread? (I’m not from India myself). My point it that only the Privileged can enjoy life in certain places. My own father wanted to move to Goa for retirement but I persuaded him not to, even though he is far from being poor. I’m sure people from villages who experienced the violence and poor living conditions do not have opportunities of well-to-do tourists. Life is horrible there for many, sorry. I don’t buy the fairy tale. The tales are for special class of people. There’s long like to get into US from India and other countries, not the other way, and it’s for a reason.

        • Ant August 11, 2014 at 2:22 am - Reply

          PS: All my colleagues are Indian, I’m an engineer. People will fight claw and tooth to get into US and live here. And these are the “higher classes”, with Masters degrees.

        • Rachel Jones August 11, 2014 at 4:17 am - Reply

          Thanks for your opinion. To each their own. I know many lower caste people here who are very happy. It’s all a matter of perspective when it comes to living in any country or leaving your home country.

          • Avi April 8, 2015 at 5:48 pm

            @ Hippe-inheels: RESPECT!!

  14. Diane Gabryjelski November 6, 2016 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    I love this story! It is a perfect description of one of the ways that India is NOT EFFICIENT!
    Living here requires a new level of patience and that sure can be tested! But that also is why it has the relaxed atmosphere we love so much!

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