“The most important thing that will make your stay easier and happier in France is your smile”- Mr. Jatinder Singh, French Embassy, New Delhi, India.
Embassy had organized an orientation for us on the day of departure itself. All the english assistants were coming from different regions in India to first attend the orientation (also known as the stage de départ).
Somehow, the orientation got over and I reached home. I was running late so after a few last moment tasks, we left for the airport. At the airport, I was freaking out because I had 6-7kgs of excess luggage – neither I wanted to take the stuff out, nor I wanted to pay a whooping $150. So I decided to smile. I went to the check-in counter for my flight and told the guy that I was freaking out because of a really short layover at Munich. He assured me that there won’t be much of a problem. In the meanwhile another guy told me that my luggage was 27kg and the limit was 23. And I again told the main guy I was talking to, that this was my time and I wanted to carry stuff and I somehow failed to follow the weight limit. He took some time but agreed to let me in. Short little conversations and smiles, sometimes make life easy- incident 1.
Flight was just fine and so was the food. Then came the moment when I reached Nice. Now that the embassy had paid so much emphasis on the stamp of arrival, I tried to re-check before the exit gate because no one seemed to be stamping the VISA there. Or may be, I will go back a little, when I came out of the flight. I looked around for a trolley and found a paid one. Yes, that’s right— in India you don’t pay for a trolley but here the trolley was locked and to unlock it, you are required to put a coin inside. I didn’t know it so I asked a Chinese couple about the trolley. I got an interesting reply, ‘no english,’; I felt like asking ‘parlez-vous français but I dropped the idea for I didn’t find him too helpful. I had €5 note. I ran towards an information desk and asked them for help. They told me to put a coin inside the handle and it will work. To make the change, I went to a machine. So well, it was somehow managed. I now had the trolley.
So coming back to the stamp, I know there was supposed to be a stamp but didn’t know who would do it. I ran around places with my trolley, called up Betty and did quite a to-and-fro but nothing worked. Finalement, Betty came and the officials told us that I can’t get the VISA stamped at Nice because Munich immigration should have done it. (So, aspiring assistants, who are reading this blog MUST check their VISA at the transit airport!)
Thankfully I had Betty- every smiling, bubbly and tactful. She smiled and asked me to smile to. We went to the Police again and Betty explained him the importance of the stamp for me. After a little nagging, Monsieur agreed. Smiles do make life easy- incident 2!