I know that Ravi will probably hate me for telling this story, but after my post yesterday, I thought I would share this quick story with you on Christmas.
It was our first Christmas in Toronto. Ravi was always a little set in his ways of doing things. Even now, when he goes into a store and something is not on the right shelf, he puts it back. So, when Ravi, Mom and I got up at 7 am on Christmas morning and Ravi asked if he could go downstairs first and organize the presents, we said “Okay”. Mom and I went back to bed and two hours later, Mom comes into my room asking if Ravi had come to get me. I said no and we went downstairs to find ALL of the presents unwrapped. Not just his, not just mine and my parents’ gifts, but the ones we were supposed to take to my grandparents’ house that night! I was furious! I almost cried and wanted my mom to wrap mine up again just so I could open them myself. She handed me my gifts which included the “Brothers In Arms” album from Dire Straits and went to re-wrap the gifts for that night. This has made it a wonderful story to tell at Christmas every year.
Merry Christmas everyone.
I attended FITC Toronto a few weeks ago and heard a great talk by Kyle McDonald. During his talk, he told us of when the Secret Service came to visit him and I imparted my Canadian Customs story. I was encouraged to write it down, so here it is. Definitely one of my favourite stories to tell.
My brother and I landed at the Buffalo International Airport from our trip to Dallas, Texas. We had left my father’s car there a week earlier and now we were heading home. I made sure that my cargo had been in my name and that my suitcase was in my brother’s name. His luggage went on board with him. I had prepped him before crossing the border back into Canada. Understand, my brother is autistic and has Tourette’s Syndrome, so at first glance, he may seem to Customs Officers like he’s on something or nervous. If I don’t prep him and something unusual happens, he gets very frazzled.
When we drove up to the booth the conversation with the Customs Officer went as follows (I’ve left out the boring stuff):
Officer: “Where are you coming from?”
Me: “Dallas, Texas”
Officer: “What was the purpose of your visit?”
Me: “Attending a wedding.”
Officer: “Who’s wedding?”
Me: “My cousin’s.”
Officer: “How long have you been gone?”
Me: “Seven days.”
Officer: “What is the total value of goods that you are bringing back?”
Me: “I’m bringing back about $700 and my brother has about $150.”
Officer: “Any tobacco?”
Me: “No, sir.”
Officer: “Any alcohol?”
Me: “A 500 mL bottle of liqueur for my mother.”
Officer: “Any weapons or firearms?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Officer: “Excuse me?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Officer: “What are you bringing back?”
Me: “A sword.”
Officer: “What kind of sword?”
Me: “A Japanese katana.”
Officer: “What is the total value of this sword?”
Officer: “Really? Okay, is it easily accessible that I can take quick look at it?”
Me: “Yes, sir. It’s in the trunk of the car in a box.”
Officer: “Do you mind popping the trunk so I can take a look?”
Me: “Not at all.”
He goes around to the rear of the car where I’d popped the trunk to investigate. About a minute later he comes back and says: “I see it’s wrapped up, so I’m going to have to send you over to the side there so someone can take a better look. It’s just a formality, but it’s protocol.”
Me: “I understand and expected that. No worries.”
He handed me a slip of paper and I drove to the side and waited in the car as he instructed until told to do otherwise. Within a minute or two, our car was approached by two female officers, each going to either side of the car. The one on my side addressed me and said: “So, what’s this we hear about a sword?”
I simply replied: “Yes, ma’am.”
Officer: “All right then, could you please leave everything in the car and I’m going to ask both of you to exit the vehicle.”
Me: “Yes. Ma’am.”, at which point I turned to my brother and repeated the instructions to him to make sure he understood them. We both exited the car and walked around to the open trunk. At this point, I’m wondering what they are more concerned with; the insurance cost to them if they break anything or that they may have a woman yielding a sword at customs.
Me: “Would you like me to take it out of the box?”
Officer: “Yes, please.”
After lifting it out of the box, “Would you like me to take it out of the cloth?”
Officer: “Yes, please.”
I untied the cloth and removed it to show the sword laid out over my two hands. “Would you like me to take it out of its sheath?”
Officer: “You don’t have to, but… Do you mind? We’d love to see you do something with it.”
I did a couple of forms that took all of about a minute, they smiled and thanked me as they signed off on my slip and sent us on our way.
Every once in a while, I hear my brother utter under his breath: “Sword…” and I know that he is recounting this story in his head.
Most of you have probably seen the following commercial done by IKEA, in which the kid is continually building a fort out of the couch and mom is continually taking it down. Take a look:
I wanted to share this because it reminds me of when my brother and I were younger living in Burlington. We had a family room that was magically transformed into a Sultan’s Oasis (took me moment to come up with something to describe it appropriately). In the commercial, the kid only uses the couch. My brother would construct a tent-like structure with blankets, pillows, couches, chairs and anything else he could find. It would take up the entire room and use every last pillow in the house. It would be constructed on a Friday evening and he and I would sleep there for both nights of the weekend. Takedown was on Sunday. I wanted to share this, well, because my brother is special and I love him for it. This commercial just brought back memories. I guess watching the new show “Touch” has also got me thinking about it. Just wanted to share.
I only wish I had pictures scanned for you, but I will attempt to do so and update the post thereafter. What commercial brings back memories for you?
This is a photo of my brother and I hiding in the closet on Marine Drive in Mumbai when we were kids.
I looked for another photo, but it was going to be a tough call between this one and that. So, I chose a photo of my brother and I. One of my very favourites.