The rescue mission completed

Fortunately life is seldom as dramatic as that portrayed here by Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. Sometimes it just feels that way!

Fortunately life is seldom as dramatic as that portrayed here by Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. Sometimes it just feels that way!

I am indebted to friends and colleagues who offered messages of support, or in some instances advice on the rescue of those incarcerated gowns held captive by customs and excise at Bangalore airport. Many of the potential solutions tendered came as a result of similar experiences with local bureaucracy, and it was reassuring to be reminded that I should not look at the situation too personally. Other ideas, all kindly meant, ranged from the practical to the wholly bizarre. In particular Sorrell’s suggestion of a commando type raid upon Bangalore airport gaol, largely calling upon the services of Tom Cruise, takes the prize for imagination. This was much as I would have expected from a friend who is an artist and dependent upon creativity to make a living. His ideas did however, have the important effect of diffusing some of the tensions of the past forty eight hours with humour.

I can now inform readers that after much anxiety, and through a great team effort, the academic accoutrements were finally released. On the basis of experience gained I can advise colleagues who may find themselves in a similar situation (hopefully this will not apply to you), that there is a formula, albeit a complex one to secure the release of custom held captives. So here briefly is the approach that ultimately – late last evening in fact – secured the freedom of the gowns. Firstly ensure that you have a strong team working with you to address the challenge – Jayashree and Sunil proved themselves worthy warriors in the cause. Remain persistent, be constantly in the thoughts of the jailers and their superiors. This is best done using local intelligence who are able to call upon influential friends to make frequent phone calls declaring the innocence of the prisoners. At the same time, anticipate frequent journeys to the prison officers’ headquarters armed with pens and as many official papers as you can muster. Expect to have passport and other means of identification photocopied on numerous occasions, be prepared to fill in what will seem like hundreds of forms, often to be informed by other jailers that these are in fact the wrong forms, and repeat the same information to dozens of different officials over the course of several days. As the end game approaches ensure that a small proportion of the original ransom demand is handed over, but only at the point where you have seen the hostages and assured yourself that they remain alive. Finally, have a fast getaway car with engine running at the door of the prison.

The drama concluded today’s graduation can now go ahead. A great cheer could be heard from all concerned. However, a happy ending having been secured, the saga doesn’t quite end here. A bandh has been announced for today in Bangalore. For those of you unfamiliar with the term bandh, I must explain that this is a form of strike which will bring the whole city to a halt for most of the day. In extremis this can become an ugly situation involving a certain amount of violence. Having experienced a couple of these in the past I know that they can normally be avoided, and that the disruption caused can be minimised. However, as ill-luck would have things, one of the focal points of today’s event is immediately adjacent to the hall where the graduation was to be held. This has necessitated finding a change of venue and a complete reordering of events. It seems that life in Bangalore, normally a fairly sedate business, is occasionally hit by a monsoon, and that this latest deluge is falling upon our celebrations.

Undaunted we will continue. Our original plans may have been thwarted, the fates have had their fun, but we will have the last laugh. The gowns are released, a compromise venue found and I have had sufficient sleep to gird my loins to do battle with any further obstacles that may emerge. So be warned, students will be graduating with their University of Northampton MA in Special and Inclusive Education today in Bangalore, come what may. That’s a promise!


P.S to my good friend Sorrell I ask – who needs Tom Cruise? Mission impossible? – never!

8 thoughts on “The rescue mission completed

  1. That, my friend, is an insane tale. Nevertheless, very little that is of value comes easily. The story this experience has earned you will, in time, outweight the time, money, and frustrations you have had over the past day or so. Keep telling yourself that, anyway.

    • Thanks Tim. Insane tales are a feature of life here in India. Perhaps that is why the country has produced so many fine novelists over the years. I am hoping that getting the gowns out of the country will be less traumatic!

  2. Richard,
    Thank you for your patience and for being with us. I really appreciate the fact that you were with s to do all the paper work without any resentment.

    • Sunil,
      there was no resentment, but I am aware that at times I became alittle irritated. Hopefully this did not cause you difficulties

  3. Three cheers Richard … if one did not see the words “gowns’ … one might easily think its a serious escape plan being hatched to take out some hapless humans …a nice story for a Bollywood movie … sell the copyright … 🙂

  4. The bandh has disrupted my plans completely. I was so looking forward to this day of the graduation to see many of my friends especially Latha and Suchi in their graduation outfit. I had planned everything so well. I was also happy when Jayashree sent me a message a few days back saying everything is going to be as planned except the timings would be advanced. Everything fell apart when I received the message yesterday saying that the ceremony will be at 7pm till 9pm. I have to miss the ceremony due to the unforeseen bandh calamity. And Richard it is the same old Cauvery water issue….
    When will we learn to be one and learn to share resources amicably is something beyond understanding. Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of free India but we still are not free from our own folly, greed and selfishness.
    All the best to all my friends who have worked hard and successfully graduated and most importantly had the opportunity to be a student to Richard. It is hard to find someone so dedicated, passionate and kind.

    • Thank you for your kind words Savitha. I am sorry that the bandh has caused you such distress. I hope all will be well and look forward to seeing you over the coming days/

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