Next day in the morning I go directly to the customs counter. I am told to wait for “five minutes” as the assistant commissioner (Amanjid Singh) is just taking a look at my case. Minutes and hours pass as short before the border is closing at four a fat guy appears in the hall. He comes directly in front of me and tells me that my car is detained if I cannot pay 350.000.- rupees (5000 euro) penalty. I cannot pay and he says the car will be detained then. I am totally shocked and ask him what I can do as the engine was broken. He tells me to wait for 5 minutes and to sit down.
Again an hour passes. I need insulin so I stand up and go to the car as the fridge cannot keep the temperature forever in the boiling sun. I barely went 10m when a soldier with a gun stops me and orders me to sit down. I am confused and tell him that I need insulin – in English and hindi. He ignores me and tells me to sit down again as the assistant commissioner will be there in “five minutes”. At this point I ask the first time ever in my life to let me call my embassy. Still I am being ignored. Again I ask for insulin and for to call my embassy. Around twenty minutes later I ask this question to everybody coming by. The border was already closed so it is only people who work there passing by – and of course they keep ignoring me.
More than 4 hours later the fat guy comes back. “No way”, he says, “you have to pay”. I am forced to sign the detaining papers and then we go out to suryananda. I am allowed to inject insuline finally and to take it out of the nicely warm fridge… I quickly pick up some stuff I need. I don’t know what to do yet, I am exhausted and shocked, but I know I will fight!
Amanjid Singh (the fat guy) looks at me and says:”No problem we are only interested in the car, the chassis and the engine” and then he looks at the solar panels, “You can take out whatever you like”. These two sentences he will say to me several more times in the days to come. At this point I maybe need to explain that solar panels are not available all over india. Even though there are power cuts half of the day…. Solar panels? No possible! The solar panels on the roof of suryananda provide 220V and 200W max charging capacity. I have been offered crazy prices here to sell them. He says we can talk about the case tomorrow and I try to get a rickshaw to Amritsar.
After some time I can get a shared rickshaw and take a seat on the backside. Looking back at the border suddenly a KTM bike appears behind my rickshaw. For a second I start smiling and make gesture to the driver that I like his bike. He makes a gesture back if I want to come with him. 2 seconds later I sit on a KTM Duke behind a guy who will become a close and precious friend in the coming days helping me to get whatever I need in Amritsar.
We quickly find a cheap hotel and I fall asleep even more quickly. Next day in the morning I pack my stuff and go back to the border. Immigration officers ask me to come in their office and to tell me what happened. Before I am aware that they can’t help at all I tell them the whole story again and they even write down some of it. At the end they give me a phone (no cellphone network at the border) and suggest calling my embassy what I do. The embassy is really helpful and within minutes things seem to change. I am asked to come into Amanjid Singhs office. Chai is being offered and they speak about a much smaller amount of money. I am ready to pay a few hundred euro by now if they would just let us go so I am happy.
After this, again I have to wait for “five minutes” but it is not even 12 so I hope to cross the border today. Half past three an officer comes back and asks me to follow him. The new calculation is ready. We sit in his office and he takes out a letter. At the bottom I see a handwritten 6 digit number starting with a four. Ok that must be something else. Then he starts telling me that they have already applied at the indian automobile association to pay the custom and now I will have to pay 6000 euro (413.000 rupees). “We have to go strictly by law” he says. And then he rips of the head from the letter from the Indian automobile association and writes the exact amount of money he wants down by hand. The car detyaining letter took “five minutes only” but they are not able to give me a proper letter with the amount of money properly written down in a letter to me. Very strange.
I am shocked again when the guy starts asking “Why don’t you just leave the car and go without – you Europeans can afford this – no problem” (…)- I know your boss wants the parts of my bus, but you are not going to get it, I think and ask for a copy of the laws about this case. First he ignores me. He wants me to leave his office but I insist threatening to call my embassy again. “Five minutes” later I get a pile of paper but 20 minutes later I know what to do. I go back to Amritsar and start to work – first I have contact my group of warriors.
At this point I have to put special, huge “THANK YOU” to all my friends and readers who supported me in this situation. Very special thanks go to my mother, Robert, Elmar, Kurt, Sebastian, Karan, Claudia, Mukesh, Stefan, Waltraud, Stefan, Simon and Carina. Thank you for your support! It was a hard fight for a few days and I spent many of them in a hotel room without a window. But we did it! I did not pay one single rupee! Amanjid Singh, Bachelor of int. human rights at the army school, desperate to “be someone” (like a politician), has to get his new solar panels and the money to buy his next golden necklace somewhere else!
And I? Well I left india… probably forever this time.
So we can relax! I am in Pakistan!
If you read this and you have that problem with your car or bike being too long in india. Send me an Email but do so before you approach the border.