Recently my wife and I travelled to Delhi and then on to Udaipur.  Waiting to board the aircraft at Heathrow we wondered whether or not to invest in a bottle of something.  I was keen, my wife less so, and eventually I made the bold decision to buy a one litre bottle of Hendrick’s Gin.  The black bottle looked so smart in one of those white, protective sleeves and I packed it away in our cabin baggage. 

The flight to Delhi took over eight hours by which time the excitement about being the proud owner of such a magnificent bottle of gin had diminished.  In fact, I had forgotten all about it.  Jaded after our flight, we waited at the carousel for our hold luggage to arrive.  We were required to claim our two cases, take them through customs and check them in again for the domestic flight to Udaipur.

We waited and waited.  An illuminated sign announced that the luggage from our flight had been delivered and the carousel stopped.  No sign of our two cases!  An official contacted someone on his mobile and eventually our luggage appeared, ironically sporting large orange labels saying PRIORITY.  Waiting for our non-existent luggage had gobbled up 50% of our transfer time.

We rushed through customs, checked the cases back in and surrendered ourselves to security.  Jacket off, belt off, shoes, mercifully, could stay on.  Our cabin baggage went through the scanner and I was asked if it contained any liquid.  Only then did I remember the Hendrick’s Gin.  Sheepishly I produced the offending bottle and was marched off to a side table where an Indian ponderously recorded the details in a large ledger.  By now I had about 15 minutes to catch the next flight and my wife had rushed to the gate to assure them that her errant husband was on his way.

An official attempted to open the bottle. It resisted and a penknife had to be called for.  Eventually the bottle gave up its secrets and for one crazy moment I thought that, now the contents had been verified and it really was gin, it might be returned to me.  No such luck. I was escorted to a nearby sink and the gin was ceremoniously poured away.  Glug, glug, glug; the most expensive glugs I’ve ever heard.  The dreadful deed done, I was marched back to the man with the ledger where I was required to sign the final column.

I ran, my cabin baggage much lighter, and was the last to board the flight to Udaipur.

There was a silver lining; we didn’t have time to obtain any rupees at Delhi Airport.  Unbeknown to us, the Indian government were about to announce that the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes were no longer legal tender.  Had we had time to obtain rupees at Delhi airport we’d have been stuck with worthless rupee notes. 

So, we had a holiday with no local currency and no gin.  

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