Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Grief Case

‘Everything doesn’t come with a price tag’. I read this piece of fact ages ago. Nope, not in any book preaching morality but in Archie comics. I was too small to realise the essence of the line then. But as years passed it made itself more and more familiar with me.

Now let’s leave that aside. What would you do, if you lost your luggage? I know the question sounds out of place here. But then again, maybe it doesn’t. We are anyway speaking about price tags and our baggage usually contains expensive items for which we would have paid lots of hard-earned money. Losing our bags would, undoubtedly irk us, what with the fact that the contents inside sport obscene numbers on their price tags. But what if you lose a bag that hardly cost you a cent? What if the contents inside were neither purchased by bundles of cash nor by plastic? I lost a similar bag.

I left my home in Goa at about 12 on 17th June. I had three bags with me – one a suitcase with my stuff in it – clothes mainly. The second was a handbag, which all women carry. My purse, I-pod and cell phone were in it. The third was a carton box.
As I explain the contents of this bag, I’m sure all you readers will think of the times when your mum packs your bag with all home made goodies which she reiterates will not be found in the place where you stay. So here goes.
My mother-in-law packed the carton with home made ghee – rich and aromatic, mango pickles with that awesome smell, fresh coconuts and ripe pears from our farm, roasted cashewnuts, mulika – a delicacy made out of jack fruit and lots of other home made stuff. The main content of the carton was a huge box (karndo) filled with my hubby’s favourite corn mixture (corn chuda). My mum- in-law prepares the most amazing corn mixture. So much for precious items in the box.

Now you guyz tell me. If u had a carton filled with all these stuff made with so much of love, would you not go crazy when you lose it? I did!

My flight landed in Bangalore airport at 3. I was among the first people to reach the baggage claim area and yes, as you guess it, was the last to leave. Because the carton was missing. I waited like an idiot, expecting the box to appear like magic. But nothing happened. The staff of the airline who I complained to claimed to ‘understand my suffering’. DUH??? He wrote down my complaint, gave me a photocopy and assured me that I would get the box the next day –the staff in Goa probably did not load it or have loaded it in some other plane, was his explanation. I wasn’t so sure about this and asked him to give me a call as soon as he enquired with the Goa airport.
I waited for his call. No call that day. I tried calling. And guess what, nobody was picking my call. I presumed they had left for the day.

I tried the number the next day but to no avail. I called their customer service and asked for the Goa airport number. And surprise surprise, the Goa airport staff of this loser airline hadn’t even received a complaint. Now my temper flew up. For no fault of theirs they got a bashing from yours truly. ‘How can you all be so irresponsible’? I screamed over the phone, only realising that it would do better if I 'd say a thing or two to the B’lore staff. I hung up and called the Bangalore office again. It was Lord’s mercy that somebody finally picked the call and I registered my complaint. Again. Of course, the person on the other end got some foul words as well from me for not bothering to enquire about my lost luggage. He meekly asked me for the contenets of the pack. Now you tell me. If I’d say food, do you think he’d laugh at me? Would he take my complaint less seriously than If I’d said, say, ‘jewelry’?
‘It’s got some frozen food’, I muttered and banged the phone. Oh yes, I also told him to call me up once he found out where the box was.
No calls the whole day.

19th June:
I dialled the number again and asked for the manager.
‘Who is speaking madam?
‘Sorry ma’am, the manager is not here’.
I guess by then the whole of the staff knew my flaring temper and me and decided to keep the manager out of this. For their own good, of course.
‘Then can u connect me to the assistant?’.
‘Sorry ma’am he is not here either’.
‘And his assistant?’ my anger was almost at it’s peak.
‘Sorry ma’am. Please call after 10 minutes. The concerned person is not here’.
My poor phone probably never faced more banging before. In fact, my phone has never faced any banging before this.

That evening I received a call from a staff of this airline from another city. He told me that he found a carton with my name on it. And below my name was written ‘Goa to Bangalore’. He apparently went through the records and found my cell number and called me.
Phew! At last (and at least) I know my bag was safe.
Ok, now guess what. The bag was loaded in Goa, had reached B’lore but was not unloaded. It reached all the way to this city from B’lore.

The chap told me there was a flight to B’lore that evening and he’d send the bag in it. Bless him.
I called the B’lore airport. Asked them to deliver it home. Sorry madam. No such provision here. I almost screamed the four letter word (I just wish I could) . And made it clear that I wanted it delivered home. Concerned person was not there, so I was supposed to call in ten minutes. What the hell!!!
Ok I finally got the concerned person who agreed to send the box home. I asked him to call me before he sent it just to make sure I’d be home to receive it.

My hubby could finally eat his mum’s famous corn mixture!
But hang on here.
No sign of the call. No sign of the box.
That was yesterday.

This morning I called up again to ask them why my box was not sent.
‘Concerned person has not come’.
It’s 21st today. I lost my bag on the 17th. The pears have probably rotted. The ghee (which was frozen) has probably spilt all over the place. The coconuts must have dried out. The mulik must have shrivelled.
But I still want that box! For the corn mixture, for everything else in it, for the rotten pears, the overflowing ghee, the dried up coconuts, the shrivelled mulik.
Coz that box came without a price tag. But with all the love a mother packed in it for her son and daughter-in-law.

UPDATE: I got my box on the 22nd. And guess what, some items in the box were missing. That included the pickle and mulik. And when I called them up, guess what they said, 'concerned person is not here. Call after 15 mts.'