I had two bags- one with my with my Langar (parothay, home-made sandwiches, fruit etc), and the other was my computer bag. To get to the KLM desk I had to go through arrival customs point. In front of me were about 20 Chinese people, who all casually walked through customs without being stopped or questioned. As soon as they saw me, two or three of the Chinese customs staff started to point at me and signalled for me to come over to them. I thought, "This looks a bit racist. You didn't say anything to 20 Chinese people, and when you see me, all of you signal me to come over."
When I went over, they said (which sounded like shouting- but that was just their style of speaking), "You have fruit... You have fruit... No fruit... No fruit." I thought how do they know that I have fruit? Then I realised, after looking at my re-usuable plastic bag that had my Langar in that the outside of the bag was covered with a photo of pears. Looking at the bag with the photo of fruit, they thought I had fruit (which was true as well!).
The Chinese customs guy said that he wanted to check my bag. I told him he couldn't touch my food or go inside the food bag because I follow a special diet. I repeated the second time "No touch... Special diet." The guy smiled back and said, "Spiritual diet?" I replied, "Yes." In broken English he smiled and said, "No touch... but no take... Me keep... you go... come back" I tried to explain that I am just visiting the KLM desk and will be back inside the airport and that I need my food as I won't eat anything else. With Guru Sahib's Kirpaa he got the message somehow and I gave him a sealed bag of fruit which he said he will keep to the side for sake keeping.
So then I got the KLM desk. I told them my problem (this time the lady could speak English). The lady replied, "Don't worry, the luggage is still unloading. Please go downstairs and wait at the luggage belt." I thought Hey Rabba! I have been waiting for an hour. No one is there. The luggage belt was empty! I asked her to please ring the luggage people to confirm that luggage is still being unloaded. When she rang, to no surprise, she confirmed that all the flight luggage had been unloaded and delivered.
So I asked her to ring Amsterdam Airport to see if my luggage was still there. I was shocked to hear the lady say, "Sorry, we can't make international phone calls." Rab Rakha! I eventually persuaded the lady to send an email to Amsterdam. I asked her to help as I couldn't go on holiday for three weeks without any clothes! She said, "Please report the luggage missing at the luggage help desk." I explained that the guy there refused to write a missing report for me. She then rang him and said to me, "Please try now."
Going back through customs, I went back to the customs (side entrance) who happily gave back my fruit bag. I was taken aback that the officer was so happy with me and showed a lot of respect. I then went back to the missing luggage office. The same man was taken aback to see, and you could tell that he felt embarrassed (after receiving the phonecall from the KLM desk). As the airport worker struggled to speak or understand English, another Chinese man in the queue (who seemed to live in the USA) offered to translate for me (but I think his Chinese was not too good). Eventually the man at the help desk gave me a missing luggage form to fill in. I filled in my name, address and flight details. But no one asked me what my luggage looked like, which is slightly strange if you are trying to locate it. Being unsatisfied with the piece of paper that I was given (which I later discovered to be an incomplete and unprocessed missing report form).
Having filled in the (incomplete) missing luggage report, I then had to go through the security screening to get the next departure gate. At the security gate I wanted to tell the man to wear gloves when patting me down, as he looked like a smoker and his hands were most likely dirty touching people's shoes. However, you may now guess what I am going to say.... the man couldn't speak any English. Having not had a shower for over a day, I thought what harm would it make if this man's dirty hands touched my clothes, considering I felt dirty anyway.
Originally I was supposed to leave from Guangzhou (China) to Auckland at 2.30pm on 16th December. However, instead the redirected flight from Shangai was due to leave at 12.50am on 17th December. So I was delayed in China by 12 hours 20 minutes. At this point I had messaged Gursikhs to do Ardaas that I get reunited with my luggage! (Thank you to the Toronto Singhs Camp WhatsApp group!).
To be continued...
To be continued...