Another day in Paradise, New Delhi


09.03.09 | Comment?

If you have not read the previous post I suggest you do so before latching onto this one…


So many things to say and remember… how does one ever capture and remember all the instances of a lifetime?

It’s been hard for me lately, my head has been spinning in so many directions, and at this point I am skipping over some of the most important developments in my life to continue telling the saga of a shipment of coffee beans. As I previously discussed how difficult things were here in India (getting a simple package delivered) I ran off to the mountains for a 5-day journey into self-exploration, meditation, music and mental healing. Dealing with the Post office right before I left for the Himalayas was quite an unforgettable experience. And upon my return I was rushed into the ever so familiar Delhi lifestyle I have come to know in the past few months.

So, It’s Wednesday and I decide to track down my package once again.  The School director at Raffles (which I should mention is one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever met) actually went through all the effort of calling people and more people… until she finally found where my package had been sent before it’s detrimental exile back to the U.S. She even got them to agree to hold the package there for me until my arrival on Monday (which got delayed until Tuesday due to a flight cancellation).  So now it is Wednesday and I am free to go get this package!


It is raining out and the Foreign Post office closes at 5:pm. First of all when it rains here everything stops. There doesn’t seem to be any existing sewers or drainage systems in this entire country, so when it rains the streets flood. When the streets flood it causes the worst traffic jams I have ever been witness to. My friend Dileep from Nepal agrees to take me on the back of his motorcycle. Well, I haven’t experienced this yet and it sounds like an adventure so I am in! I mean, I see families of 6 riding on a single motorcycle in Tsunami type weather all the time so “why not”?

Here I am clutching onto the back of this motorcycle for dear life through some of the most horrendous traffic, pouring rain, and sometimes up to 3 feet deep flooded streets, which I might add that we willfullingly charged through. The whole time I am in fear for my life, yet I admit that this is one of best and wildest experiences I have ever forgone. We are riding through mud, up on sidewalks, weaving in and out of moving and stopped traffic, brushing up against buses, rickshaws, other bikers, pedestrians, monkeys, you name it. This has got to be one of my favorite moments ever. I am completely thrilled and scared all at the same time. Each corner we pass could be my last breath. It’s kind of like a rollercoaster without any rails, safety belts, or any order whatsoever. I am loving every minute of this, laughing the entire way (which lasted for about an hour).

Finally we arrive at the Foreign Post office. It is now about 5 minutes till 4. We walk into this government building, first floor (ground zero) and ask where to go. The lady at the desk tells us 2nd floor (which is actually the third floor if you count them correctly). In India the first floor (ground floor) is actually floor 0. We climb the dingy flight of stairs up to the 2nd floor where they look through a stack of documents until they come across mine. I think to myself… YES! This mission is complete! I will finally get my package. But, there is a bit of red tape to cut through first. They tell us to go up to the 4th floor and meet some guy (forgetting all their names). Well, we walk in and then they say, no no, you have to go up to the 5th floor. We climb the flight of stairs once again to find that the doors are locked. Traveling back down to the 2nd floor to ask again, and they direct us to the 3rd floor where we find a bunch of guys standing around doing nothing. They tell us we have to go to the 5th floor. We walk back up to the 5th and meet the guy we are supposed to meet who tells us, no no, you have to meet with Indian man #2 on floor 6! Ok, so we travel up to floor 6 and meet this fat Indian guy lounging behind a dirty desk with stacks of paper surrounding his immediate area. He looks over our documents and tells us that I need to have my passport in order to claim my package. Well, crap I don’t have it… but I do have my Ohio Drivers license and a few other things with my name on it… No this won’t do… You have to have passport! After arguing for a bit he finally gives in to our request and then comes the next kicker! The document declaring my package has my name spelled incorrectly (Nathan obes) and not ober and the address is incorrect. Obviously this package has been sent from Columbus Ohio all the way to Delhi to another guy from Ohio with the name of Nathan Obes. So this cannot be me… We debate over this for a good bit and finally we go back down to the 2nd floor to see the actual package and what has been written on it. They search for a while and come out with a package clearly marked to Nathan Ober and not Obes with the correct address written. So they scratch out the name and address and re-write it correctly. At this point I have seen my package, actually held it in my hands! I am so close. So we go back up to fat man in chair’s office and show him the newly scratched out name and address  corrected. And then what?

Well, My Ohio drivers license is written Nathaniel I. Ober and the package is to Nathan Ober. So again, this is not the same person. We go into another lengthy debate over this… this guy is being a complete ass! We get him to agree that in fact I am the same Nathan Ober from Columbus Ohio that this package is addressed to. Another 15 or 20 minutes roles by. I have to go back down to the 1st floor for something… then back up to the second and then back up to 5th floor. I am back in the fat mans corner. Somehow we have convinced him that I am in fact the same person… ok great. Now he tells me that I don’t have any proof of address even though I am holding in my hand a certified document addressed to me that I received at my address with the correct spelling of my name. This is getting pretty absurd. He won’t budge at all. We debate with him over and over. Still nothing. I call up Shalini (she always helps in these sorts of situations). So now I hand the phone over to this guy and she usually gets things done, but this guy is still not budging. I am not sure what is being said (all in Hindi), but he still will not give me the ok to receive my package. Ok, so now he hangs up on her and I am standing there pleading with this guy practically on my hands and knees begging. He then hands me another document and asks me to sign it! Horary, finally I am getting somewhere! He tells Dileep something (again in Hindi). I have no clue; I think we are going to go get my package now… and then Dileep takes me down the stairs outside of the building. What are we doing? I thought we were getting my package? No, no… we have to now go find a copy shop and get photocopies of  Dileep’s drivers license and mine! Are you kidding me? So we drive around looking for a copy shop and finally a few blocks away we find one. Ok, back to the Post office. We go back up to the 5th floor and hand the fat man our 7 pages of documents we have accumulated in the past hour. He looks through them all as if he had never seen them before. He then proceeds to write a 3 page letter addressed to someone (who? I don’t have a clue!). This is taking quite some time and we are just standing there staring at him as he slowly writes this letter. After about another 10 minutes he has me sign the letter. I have no idea what it said, but I signed it anyways… Who cares right? As long as I get my package. Ok, now I think it’s over. He takes a pin and pushes it through the now 12-page document and hands it off to us and directs us to floor zero. Now, it is past 5:00 (5:15) and the office is closed. I am so over this! We pound on the doors until someone finally lets us in. There are a few men sitting on a filthy couch, the room smells of hot urine mothballs, we are asked to have a seat. We wait some more, and finally another guy takes our documents, reads through it all and gets another guy to take the documents somewhere else. While sitting there waiting; I notice a family of monkeys outside the window traveling along the barbwire fence. Another 10 or 15 minutes passes. And finally the guy comes down with package in hand. Great! But, now I have to go sign a few more documents, write more information down, and then I am asked to pay 210 rupees for a duty! Fine take it! I just want out of here. At this point I have my package in hand and am leaving the office! Yes, mission complete! It only took 25 people, 7 flights of stairs (up and down a total of about 20 times) a trip to the copy shop, and about 1 and a half hours to get my package!

The ride back was the most glorious ride ever! I am now clutching onto the package for dear life and disregarding the danger present in Delhi traffic. I fear that something catastrophic will happen, but alas I make it back to the college safe and sound and 3 bags of coffee richer!

This is like pure gold to me! The most precious coffee in the history of mankind! Café Brioso sent all the way from Columbus Ohio to the other side of the world courtesy my friend, Tony Collinger! I am now sipping a fresh cup thanks to you Tony! I take nothing for granted.

What a day!


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