This is one episode I’d like to tell my kids and have them tell their kids. It’s the story of destiny meeting determination.
The first time I laid my eyes on this beauty was exactly 30 minutes before a scheduled ride back from Malaysia. But one glance and you know you have to take this home. Dug from an excavation site with autentic battle damage lay a 16th century Samurai Sword / Katana at a genuine antique dealer in the heart of KL.
When I first pulled it out of the slightly rustic quiver, a strange (if I may add) shiver went down my spine. That’s when I knew we connected. Often believed to be a part of a warriors soul, the katana lay in an extreme corner of the shop. Disguised to the eye in a way. The first thing was to call a friend in India and ask him if one could get arrested for bringing in an antique into the country, that too a sword. The only assurance I got was “Come back. I’ll bail you out if you got arrested.”
But my journey was far from over. The first step was to get a clearance from Malaysian customs. The funny part was placing this under the X-ray machine. You should have seen the faces of airport customs team. Step two (and I knew this would be difficult) was declaring this in Indian customs. Their first reaction was ‘Why do you need it?’ I mean hello! Won’t you want to have one? Their first reaction was that this comes under the Arms and Ammunition Act and hence was out of the sole jurisdiction of the Customs. Fine I said, so what would I need to do? Get an NOC from the police on a particular date and time as convenient to the customs officials. So had the sword sealed and kept at the airport for two days.
After which, I spent an entire day accompanying an official to the police station, getting an NOC from the police and getting the NOC back to customs for clearance. Yes! This can happen too! That was not all… the Superintendent refused to release it even then. Why? Am sure you will love this answer ‘Not releasing this on my shift. Am not signing the release papers even if the police have cleared this. Wait for the shift to end.’ That was 4 ½ hours away. So I just stood there, outside his office. A bit of ‘Gandhigiri’ ho gaya. Must add that the other team members in customs were quite helpful and they were trying to tell me ‘Sorry about this. But, vo aise hi hain.’ Those 4 ½ hours were quite a revelation. But if honesty and fair play in terms of following our laws had got me so close to owning this piece then it would take me through this as well. And that is exactly what happened. The shift changed and the next guy was welcoming of the story.