Height of Stupidity

Height of Stupidity

How will you feel or react when in an unknown country all of a sudden you are singled out and with no fault of yours, asked to leave it ASAP. Seriously, when the local police speaking in a foreign language (to you, not to them silly ! ), looking at your passport which has a valid visa, discuss your deportation plan then I don’t think it’s a time to smile at them with fluttering eyelashes.

Also, I don’t think I am even remotely related to any elite group of Osama Bin Laden or those self claimed jihadis. But then why ? Why me ?

Damn ! Those merciless policemen didn’t even consider the fact that at stake is an innocent girl who was in that country not by choice but by compulsion .. .. sent by her employers.

Oh !! Stop running around the bush. Lets get to the facts.….

Oh well, to cut it short, it so happened that once upon a time there lived a girl who was sent to Geneva, Switzerland by her employers for three months on her first overseas assignment. It is another story that they loved her so much that she ended up staying there for close to two years.

Ok enough. Write in first person now.

Ok, let me begin from the beginning.
I was fortunate enough to visit St Gallen within a month of my landing in Switzerland and it became a memorable one.. not for anything else but for my stupidity. Sometimes I can also be stupid you know !

It so happened that three of my colleagues (working on different projects) were going for a one day tour to explore some places of Switzerland. I immediately expressed my wish to join them.

So, on a Sunday early morning, four of us took a train to Zurich. Zurich is a German speaking city in north of Switzerland.
After spending sometime in Zurich city we proceeded for St Gallen – a town further north-east. St Gallen is a small city and a canton, an hour’s train journey from Zurich. It is majorly famous for lake Constance, Abbey Library and the Cathedral besides the Ornate Oriel Windows and fascinating embroidery. Since it is further north to Zurich, not to mention the signboards are again in German.

Hold on ! This post is not about Zurich or St Gallen or German language. That will happen later.

In St Gallen after seeing the beautiful Cathedral and some tit-bits we went to the famous lake Constance. Wanted to have a small ferry ride before calling it a day.

So, at the lake we took a ferry. We had already bought the day-pass for our travel. That way it is convenient to pass your day 😛 .. arrr.. I mean it is better to buy a day-pass because it can be used for travel on train, bus, tram and ferry within Switzerland. We need not buy any other ticket. In India we don’t have such flexible system till now. Don’t tell me about Smart card, I know what it is.

The ferry was a huge one, I should call it a small ship. It had a drive-through for cars just like we see in movies. People were taking their cars, scooters, even the bicycles along to go to other places. I was told it was a common practice.

For me, everything was new and extremely exhilarating. It being my first-ever boat ride on a foreign land (ok, water), there I was, sipping coffee, completely mesmerized by the beautiful surroundings, green calm waters, cool evening breeze and the boat itself.

All my three travel companions were quite familiar with this kind of beauty since each one of them had been in Switzerland for more than two years and had seen the neighbouring countries as well. So, all the decisions were taken by them and I was just following them like a small kid.

After sometime they turned to me & said “We are getting off at the next stop”. Apparently after that point they wanted to explore the roads for going back.

But as soon as our feet touched the land, one of my colleagues asked us to stop !! I asked them the reason for not going further, they just smiled. Apparently, they did not want me to get anxious. So sweet of them.

Nonetheless, we turned back, reseated and continued our journey in the same ferry. I could see some custom people at a small check post checking everyone’s papers and I was wondering why not we can have such system in India as well. Terrorists will think twice before venturing out free. *Sigh*

We got down somewhere only to find another check post !! I looked at my colleagues; they were chewing Chiclets & were as cool as a cucumber. That reassured me to think it was a routine thing to check papers.
Wow ! Switzerland has check points at every stop ?? No wonder this is one of the safest countries in Europe.

And when my turn came, those people.. .. those stoooopid people in Swiss uniform stopped me !! Out of that ferry load of people they singled out only me !! They said something in German which obviously I could not understand but it was evident that they were not too happy with my papers. And then like a bomb everything fell on me. Do you know why ?

Oh well, since I was on a short trip to Switzerland, I had a single entry visa for it (which I had already utilized by virtue of my landing there a month back) & according to them (and to my surprise) at that moment of time I was coming from Germany, trying to get into Switzerland ‘illegally’ !!

Since Germany & Switzerland share the lake (which I did not tell you earlier), we had crossed over to German side without our knowledge and then we were coming back again to Switzerland. And the first check post where we had earlier thought of making our stop, was in Germany !!

There I stood like an illegal immigrant fool not knowing what to do and my companions cursing themselves for their brilliant idea of boat ride. The custom people were not allowing me to enter into Switzerland and since I didn’t have visa for Germany, according to them, I could not go back as well !! Does that mean I’ll have free boat ride for the rest of my life ? Yayyy !
Eh no !! One of them wanted to deport me ! And I want to think he was kidding.

My three companions had made Schengen visa for traveling within Europe. And for your information, Schengen visa is required to move within EU (European Union) countries and Switzerland is not a part of EU.
So, to enter only Switzerland (as my case was) one does not really need a Schengen visa & that’s what my company had done. It had applied for a single entry visa for me. I think we should blame them for this stupidity and not me.

Well, we had to request, plea for my ‘release’ by telling them that it was a grave mistake on our part, we did not have any bad intentions, showing them our other papers etc. etc. etc. Then after checking my colleagues’s papers to their satisfaction they let me go.

Phew !! I had learnt a lesson again. Beware !

Technorati Tags:St Gallen visa Lake Constance

26 thoughts on “Height of Stupidity

  1. Hey, interesting post:

    //We need not buy any other ticket. In India we don’t have such flexible system till now.
    Nothing ‘genius’ about it. In India different modes of transport are not owned by a single operator. Secondly, the process being manual, it is pointless to have a city ticket or a thing like that.

    //checking everyone’s papers and I was wondering why not we can have such system
    India has among the world’s lowest people-to-police ratio. Considering how big the country is and how safe it is related to other countries, this is a matter of pride not shame. I would be annoyed to be stopped every now and then and get checked. Unfortunately as the risk of terrorists increases, this might happen slowly. And who said that terrorists cannot have valid papers?

  2. Brave Indeed you are. Scary experience though..
    I had pretty similar experience at US immigration while I was going from Canada to US…This was after 9/11 and the security was too tight.
    So I understand what you went through.

  3. All’s well that ends well. It’s easy to get lulled into forgetting that Europe is not a single country, given how small the countries are and how well they are connected (air, river and roads). However, you would be barred entry even if you were in the US and did this detour into Mexico or Canada.

  4. Anoop,
    Yes true.
    Oh we were completely ignorant about that. 🙂

    Priyank,
    Now you are behaving like stupid. 😛

    Who told you to write like that ? How on earth I’ll know that YOUR comment would go in for moderation ?

    Yes, being festive season I am very busy these days and at times I don’t go to my blogs… more so the admin panel unless I have something new to post or reply to comments in which case I first check for any comments to be moderated. 🙂

  5. Kiran,
    Thank you for comforting me.
    That was an experience for me. 🙂

    Amey,
    And it is really funny to read about others being stupid… 🙂 I can just smile at that.

    Anil,
    Aha, what an adventure it must have been indeed… Now when I look back.. yes, it indeed was.

    Thank you.

  6. Shantanu,
    That was an experience for me. 🙂

    I was not trying evade anything but was completely ignorant and depended on my colleagues. Did not have any inkling that we would venture into German territory.

    Wendy,
    I am glad as well. Don’t know what would have happened otherwise.

    Thanks for your visit.

  7. hmmm interesting, but i wudnt call u stupid just ignorant as i guess is the case with most first timers…
    Really glad that u finally managed to convince them to release you 🙂

  8. Oho…. i don’t think you made any mistake that day. It is easy to walk over a mountain and end up in a different country in europe. 🙂 .
    But the mistake was done quite a while ago, should have filled the visa application oneself. y ? there is little or no difference in cost of a single entry or multiple entry visa. It gives a bad impression at the immigration, because they know this fact very well.

    But you need not have worried. They don’t usually deport people, because it is a pain for them too. They were prob’ly trying to come up with an excuse to let you go just like you were. They are supposed to follow the book.

    Once a German cop had to let someone go in similar circumstances at Munich rly station simply because the two did not have a language in common. If he did, it would have taken an hour to explain the situation and the fellow would have missed a long distance ICE too. Sometimes it can be an advantage not knowing a foreign language. 🙂

    Talking your way through the immigration is the usual way out, but only if one is smart and has done some homework.

  9. Well, it must have been a difficult experience, but if you compare with the current financial/economic crisis… ;))
    Lucky to have friends!!
    Meanwhile Blogtrotter has posted its 200th post and moved to Mykonos! Hope you enjoy! Have a great Sunday!
    Gil

  10. Deepu,
    I am sorry for replying late.
    Well, my company does not want to invest a single penny more than what is required to do the job.

    “They were prob’ly trying to come up with an excuse to let you go just like you were. They are supposed to follow the book. “ 🙂 Yes, I agree with you.

    Ha Ha Ha.. on that German cop. Yeah, it happens. My varied experiences in Europe say that. 😀
    BTW, where are you based if I may ask so ?

    Thanks for your valuable comment, keep coming. 🙂

  11. Ieeuw, that must have been scary. I usually hate dealing with authorities. Although I often find to my surprise, as was the same in your case, that even though you do not have the right papers, they can be convinced of your case.

  12. That is fine. Where I am based out, huh… i keep moving around. 🙂 Currently in waterloo/canada. Trying to make the best out of short days before winter comes calling. And if I may ask the same question to the author ? 🙂

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