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You're in the wrong 'Q', Sir!
A Market Scene in Colombo
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One distinct advantage of traveling to a country like Sri Lanka is that visas are issued on arrival for stay up to 30 days. It saves a lot of hassles running around for visas, as was the case when I went to Paris in 2006. Karnataka falls under Maharashtra jurisdiction and to get the Schengen visa that allows tourists to travel in Europe, I had to fly to Mumbai.

Tourism is one of the mainstays of the Sri Lankan economy and therefore, they go all out to making things easier for tourists such as visas on arrival. And they badly need a steady flow of tourists to spend their dollars in this tiny island.

The 'Q's, weren't too long at the three immigration counters. There was a fourth counter with a sign saying "crew only". Someone - he looked to be an official with an ID card dangling from his neck - pointed out that this counter can also be used. So, some of us crossed over and we were then told that we can't come here. We'd lost our place in the 'Q' where we had initially stood. I explained to the immigration officer that we were quite happy standing in the other 'Q' and it was one of his colleagues who had directed us to this counter." He looked around for this bungling colleague to no avail; he had quite conveniently vanished from the scene.

By now there had been an exodus of people from the other 'Q's'. I think the immigration officer realized this; and started to issue visas rather than sour international relations.

He was polite, no doubt, but kept harping that I was in the wrong queue pointing to the 'crew only' sign. I said I agreed with him, shrugged my shoulders indicating I wasn't to blame, smiled and walked off, headed straight for the duty-free zone.

I had some 'mission critical' purchases to make at the duty-free shop.

Next: What! No Cigarettes?

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