Saturday, April 24, 2010

Return to sender

In preparation for my return in July, I thought I would start sending some stuff home.  I have a 20kg (44 lbs) luggage allowance and excess baggage is whopping Rs1300 (£19) per kg.  A quick look round my flat told me that this would be a very expensive option – there’s that marble box Dillip gave me for Christmas, the carpets I bought in Sikkim, saris, tiffin boxes … the list goes on.  It turned out I didn’t have enough stuff to send as cargo by ship – they were asking how many tea chests I needed – which meant it would have to go air-freight – an even more expensive option than excess baggage.  So I decided to try Indian Post and last week found me in the post office with my first parcel. To begin with you have to get the terminology right. "Is parcel?", "Er yes" it certainly looked like one to me.  "Rs1700."  Somehow I managed to explain I thought that was a tad expensive for a 2.75kg parcel. "Is small packet?", "Well it can be", "Rs1300". We were coming down but I still wasn’t that happy.  I was pretty sure I couldn't call it a letter so I started to enquire about transport methods.  "Is go by ship?"  -  sometimes I'm better understood if I speak English the way they do - but he looked a bit confused so I did a rather good impression of a plane flying and saying No followed by one of waves whilst saying Yes.  "SAL – Rs750."  About a tenner - that sounded, if not reasonable, at least better so the deal was done and back at home I started on my second parcel and duly took this down to the post office yesterday.  "Small packet" accompanied by a quick impersonation of the sea and the second one was on its way … or so I thought.  Today the postman arrived with a large parcel under his arm. Had Mother sent me some final emergency supplies?  How much would they cost to send back?  But no, it was Parcel Number 1 being returned to sender.  Back in the post office they had no idea what the problem was and even Arjun, a colleague who had come to help, seemed confused. "I know the label has come off, all the tape has been ripped and the contents are falling out but that was done by the PO. Why did they do that?", "Yes, I do want to send it again but why didn’t it go the first time?"  As with most things in India the solution is to write a letter of complaint i.e. make it someone else's problem.  Now I love writing complaint letters but somehow standing in the hot post office with a blank piece of paper, kindly provided by them, I wasn't quite sure what to say apart from "Why is my parcel sitting in front of me and not in the UK?"  So now I have my parcel, a copy of my complaint letter confirming receipt of it and am expecting Parcel Number 2 to wing its way back shortly but still no idea how I'm going to get all my stuff home without bankrupting myself.  Suggestions welcome.

1 comment:

Á. said...

There are many people from UK staying in India, you may try to find out one who is likely to go home for a visit with some free space in the luggage. I used to do like this (just not to UK). It's definitely easier to send a box within India, then she/he could take it safely with herself to UK, and send it to your home.