- One final hassle
- An Illegal Immigrant
- Finally making it to Nepal
The irritation that broke the compassion’s back
Today we would escape the craziness that is Kolkata. We packed and got ready to go to the airport. As we loaded too many things into too little space, a young girl and boy came up to me demanding money. The girl was hanging onto the side of the car, hassling the others and getting in my way. I put my hand on her chest and gently pushed her away. There wasn’t any force in the push but she was so little that is sent her stumbling back a few steps. Both the girl and I were shocked at what I had just done.
She started up again, louder this time and with more aggression. She jumped at my hand and grabbed onto it, slipping back off and landing on her feet. The car door was open now and I threw my bag inside on top of the others and jumped in. The kids threw dirt at the car as we drove off and that’s exactly what I felt like. My head sunk as we made our way out of the city, ashamed at what had just happened.
Frustrated and exhausted, our flight to Nepal had come at just the right time. Or had it?
What should have been as simple as making a payment and having a sticker put into your passport turned into a nightmare.
We arrived at Kathmandu, and with such a large group we weren’t carrying enough foreign currency to pay for all our visas. Luckily I had Nepalese Rupees from a previous trip. I attempted to make the payment only to be told, “We don’t accept Nepalese Rupees”. “You what?” I said, certain I had heard him wrong. “We don’t take Nepalese Rupees. We can take AUD, USD…” I couldn’t believe what I had just been told, we were not able to pay for our visas in local currency!
Frustrated we jumped on the end of another line, noticing this one took EFTPOS. Our currency issues were solved…except the machine wasn’t working! We’d made it to Nepal but at this stage it looked unlikely that we would actually be let out of the airport. I asked the guy at the desk where the nearest ATM was. “Outside the airport” he replied.
Great! Not only do I need to find an ATM, withdraw Nepalese Rupees, change them over for foreign currency then come back and pay. I need to clear security without a visa as well!
Clearing security turned out to be the easiest part, as I walked past the remaining border patrol, down stairs, through ‘security’ then out the door. No questions asked. I was outside and still slightly nervous about being an illegal immigrant, but for now I had a mission to complete. After a quick search I found the one and only ATM outside the terminal and guess what? It wasn’t working!
I chatted to a few Aussies at the ATM who were now stuck themselves. They had a visa but no local currency to catch a taxi into town. I promised them I’d come back and swap over our money. I just had to go back through ‘security’ upstairs and back through border patrol to get it!
On my way back the only person who stopped me was Josh, who had cleared security in a different line having prearranged his visa. He turned out to be the most reliable cash dispenser in the building and happily gave $200 AUD to buy our freedom! A two-minute process had turned into a lengthy mission but we were through. Welcome to Nepal.
I ran ahead, found the stranded Aussies and traded them for USD we no longer needed. Now they too could escape the airport and be introduced to the real Nepal. Just as disorganized, but a million times more beautiful, as we would soon discover.