Coming back from Kazakhstan we braced ourselves for the inevitable reenactment of our previous experience. Again, a gentleman asked for our passports and flight information. He took us to the counter where we were instructed to sit and wait in the international transit purgatory area until someone felt like printing our boarding passes. In the meantime, at least fifteen employees were hanging out behind the counter flirting and carrying on. Their primary job seemed to be telling travelers they could not help and to please take a seat in the waiting area until such a time as ritual suicide seemed like a pleasant option.
Every official we talked to asked to see a passport and wrote down all our pertinent information. This was merely a ploy to fool us into believing something resembling progress was being made. I must have handed over my passport at least a half a dozen times.
I said as much to the young lady handling Gulf Air business. I let her know I had no idea why I kept handing over the passport since it wasn’t making headway in getting me a boarding pass soonest. She said she understood and she would be back in ten minutes with our boarding passes.
An hour later she reappeared with another gentleman who sat down and immediately asked for our passports and flight info. I looked sideways at the Gulf Air gal and she couldn’t help but laugh. Even she could see how ridiculous their standard operating procedure was. Saying as much to the new guy made little to no impact. The concept of simply printing boarding passes and letting us go on our way obviously didn’t jive with the illogic of his bureaucratic mental conditioning. In retrospect it’s a good thing we are not allowed to travel armed.
From my experience, no action is taken in India without some kind of administrative process involving flaming hoops, fees, and regulations all filed in triplicate. The only reason you’re even allowed to use a toilet in India is because it involves its own kind of paperwork.
I would love to tell you how the sound of my grinding molars and laser beams of hate blazing from my eyes finally convinced the airport staff to do their jobs. This was simply not the case. Powerless to affect any progress, we took the bureaucratic flogging until minutes before our flight departed.
As a combat veteran with over 20 years of service, I can attest nothing has ever left me feeling as defeated as a layover in New Delhi.