Immigration and fun are almost an oxymoron, at least in most of the places I visited. But Jordan changed all that, I can now say immigration fun in the same sentence. While going into Jordan. it was almost the same as anywhere else, getting out of Jordan was fun. But then first things first.
I visited Jordan as part of Indian media invited to cover the Pope’s visit to Jordan. I was told that Jordan grants visa on arrival to Indians. As we were accompanied by the officials of the Jordan Tourism Board before immigration, none of us were asked to show USD 1000 in cash. I wonder if they really want a visitor to show USD 1000 in cash to give visa on arrival? I have never traveled anywhere with that kind of cash! My visa on arrival was smooth but I guess it was also because I was invited.
Fast forward to the time when we were getting back. There were nine of us checking in one after the other at Queen Alia International Airport, Amman. Almost all of us had bought the local sweet Backlava. So people ahead in line were entrusted with the task of asking if it was OK to carry backlava in hand luggage? When the lady ahead in the queue asked she was told firmly, “no ma’am.” All of us behind her went into a tizzy. She also went into a tizzy. Then the counter person laughed and said, “ma’am I was only joking, of course you can take it in your hand luggage.” That should have given me some inkling of the things to come.
After depositing my luggage I proceeded to the passport control. When a counter became vacant I asked if I could proceed in sign language, and the person said no! So, I stood in the queue thinking that counter might be closing. I cursed my luck in general as well. Then he talked to an airport staff in Arabic who told me I could proceed to that counter! When I started walking, he too started laughing and said, “of course you can come to this counter, why not?” Now I was wondering what was going on! While he looked at my passport he said, “Bandra 25 Bandra 25 Bandra 25, are you taking that one?” I laughed and laughed.
Now won’t you agree with me that this was one of the most hilarious immigration experiences you ever read about? I do remember two passport control personnel saying bye to me, at Thailand and Maldives but this was something unique.
The only thing that comes close to this was a person, staff, at Johannesburg, South Africa at the luggage belt, who was dancing while we waited for our luggage!