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The jack in the box

Every trip back to the U.S., I carry sweets for my friends and family. This time too, I packed 500 g of Mysore Pak in my hand baggage and flew from Chennai to Frankfurt on the first leg.

On landing, my mother cleared the security check and was waiting for me at the other end. A German woman official did a quick swipe of my upper body and then signalled me to go collect my baggage. I went over to the machine and waited for my bags to arrive. That is when things started to go awry. My laptops, phones and one bag passed the test, but my other bag was put aside.

The official yelled, “Whose bag is this?” I stepped forward. “I have to check your bag for explosives,” she said. She then ran my bag over another sophisticated scanner machine and the thing beeped a couple of times. “Your bag has tested positive for explosives. I will need to open it and check it,” she said.

I told her she could go ahead and open it and check it herself. “No ma’am, I am not authorised to open it. I will have to call the police,” she said.

My baggage had passed the scanner in Chennai, and my worry was somebody must have slipped something into it when I was fast asleep on the flight. I was mostly amused, but the security officer was serious.

After 10 or 15 minutes, there came a German policewoman and policeman, both armed with guns. This is when I started to think that I might have to spend a day or two in a German jail. The policewoman walked up to me and pulled up the bag and opened it and took out each item and then she stumbled upon the white box. It was almost a Eureka moment for her. She pointed to the box and spoke something in German to the policeman. She then very carefully opened the box and saw rectangles of Mysore Pak.

“What is this,” she asked. I said it is a sweet and volunteered to eat a piece of it and give her some. She refused, but was now convinced that her sophisticated machine had falsely tagged the delectable Mysore Pak as an explosive. She then let me go sweetly.

ravichandran.lalitha@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 8:08:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-jack-in-the-box/article31069407.ece

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