Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kat is out of the bag....!

The beauteous Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was kind enough to grant an audience to the Parikrma students and hand over her signed jeans for the scheduled auction. The kids in turn, presented her a special painting created by them... and confessed later that their hearts were still pounding hours after meeting their favourite female star. Let's just call it the Ash effect....

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This appeared in Bombay Times today...

Golmal at Customs… Kat is out of the bag...

Bashing our Customs’ officers is a popular sport. Let’s face it, being a much feared Customs’ officer is a pretty dicey job to do….but someone’s got to do it! Passengers the world over detest the entire process of clearing Immigration and Customs on arrival. Air travel is no longer a relaxing, much anticipated journey. If anything, it is tiring and tedious. Add to that the long delays, lost luggage, tampered bags and several other irritants. Yup. And those forms, too. Bleary eyed travelers have to rub their eyes, squint and pay close attention to what they are declaring, before sailing past the Green Channel. Mistakes happen. They shouldn’t. But do.Especially with high profile people and super celebrities who delegate such ‘minor’ tasks to assistants. Huge error. As so many of our Bollywood stars have discovered. As Katrina Kaif experienced on her return from Chicago ( Mumbai Mirror, front page story) on Sunday. Katrina zoomed off nonchalantly, leaving Chaddha and Sharma, her personal staffers, to deal with the nitty gritty of getting her bags cleared. Yes, there were a couple of booze bottles, some cash and an Apple iPad. This was not the tough part. Had Katrina declared what she was carrying and paid the duty, there would have been no problem. Unlike a lot of other stars who come back with bags crammed with pricy designer goods ( watches, bags, shoes , outfits, jewellery) which they hope to get in undetected, Katrina’s misadventure looks more like a careless lapse. What was far more alarming in this case was the easy access given to her staff. First, those two guys left the airport with her, ostensibly to see off their madam to the car . Now comes the tricky part – minutes later, they walked right back in to get her bags! This shows just how lax security is at our international airport. It’s not about Katrina’s bags at all. It is about shocking security breaches like this one. Several questions have been raised in the past about the arbitrary functioning of some of our Custom’s officials. Either they go overboard and give our stars a really hard time. Or they conveniently forget the rules and allow celebs to sail past , leaving lackeys to collect their bags – this irregular practice has to be stopped . Not only because it represents a major threat in terms of security, but also because these double standards send out the worst signal to other, less privileged citizens.

I’d say the main problem lies in a lack of awareness. Most passengers don’t read the forms they are filling in and signing, as diligently as required. There has to be a more sustained campaign to let international travelers know what is and is not permissible. Why not display prominent boards in the Customs’ area that spell out the basics? And why not a specially designed crash course for the film industry? Let’s give our stars the benefit of the doubt. Not all of them have criminal intentions. Most would prefer to go by the book. Let’s not pounce on them and brand them potential smugglers, conspiring to cheat the government each time they step out of the country and step back in with suitcases crammed with goodies. Nobody likes to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. Like Katrina, there have been several other stars who have received flack for flouting Customs’ laws. By the same token, let’s not demonise our men and women in sparkling white who are following the law as Customs’ Officers. If you want to stay out of trouble,it’s really pretty simple, folks – read the form, fill in the information as accurately as possible, sign the form yourself, carry your own bags, and if the goods you are bringing in are dutiable, co-operate with the Customs’ personnel and pay up! No jhanjat. No bad publicity.

12 comments:

obssesor said...

Ash still looks chubby!

Kiah said...

Aishwarya looks so effortlessly gorgeous. She needs to be back in movies. Missing her!

Theyoginme said...

Customs in mumbai is crazy. What's the point of green channel if everyone's luggage is going to be xrayed

Theyoginme said...

The govt should increase the duty free limit to 50000 per person

snehal said...

Such incidents expose the security systems at the airport. It is dangerous and needs to be looked into.

Rahul Sarkar said...

Aish looks pretty :)

Tsomo85 said...

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Way to go Mrs.De! What a good lesson to the naive stars. My 60 year old (senior citizen) mother has done better job than these starts in terms of carefully reading and filling out these "very important" forms, every year on her own journey abroad. PARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Rajesh C Pandey said...

Very nice
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