Bizarre policy coming into Mumbai

Just landed in Mumbai, India late last night for the TechMela event (June 14-16) and got stopped at customs. Was shuttled to a interrogation area and told, “I’m sorry sir, we have a one laptop per person policy. You can only carry one laptop”.

I went.. “WTF?” Literarily! I said “What? when did they implement such a policy? why weren’t we told about it by our travel agents, our event organizers or just before we disembarked the plane?”

he said “I’m sorry, you can only carry one.” (no reason given).

I spent the next 10minutes haggling with him and his manager (a lady) about having to present at their local conference and needing two laptops and ten phones for demos, and they went off one side whispering and discussing and sizing me up.

Then I said it, “I work for Microsoft in Redmond, Washington USA.” and I whipped out my namebadge and they reluctantly let me go. Unbelievable. Even my cab driver is stunned.


Is it the way I look?

Is it because I’m carrying a Malaysian passport?

because none of my other colleagues from the US had this issue the day before.

Comments (9)

  1. shahpiyush says:

    No it’s not your looks. I am from Mumbai and I know it’s always a challenge to get through the customs at the airport without an experience especially if you are carrying Electronic items. Yours is a rare incident that they let you go through (without a bribe) for carrying 2 laptops. I dont think the customs guy cares if you are from MS. It’s the attitude you show them. If you look or act timid they will pounce on you, if you make some noise they will let you go.

    Enjoy Mumbai, and take a city tour if you get a chance.

  2. ET Lim says:

    Looks like lesson 401…

    How to tackle this type of situation… 😉

  3. Edward says:

    It’s because you originate from Malaysia – if you would be white it wouldn’t happen. Just facts – as experiences of your other colleages from MS are showing.

  4. Loke Uei says:

    haha damn. this sounds so much like my old home (Malaysia). 😉

    After spending 21 hours flying to Mumbai, I just couldn’t let him do that. I was about to eat him alive!!

    so there is a "hidden" one laptop per person rule then?

  5. Loke Uei says:

    Edward: yes I guessed as much. Sucks being from a 3rd world country eh? That’s life.

    but then again, many people say that I look like a Samoan! maybe i should learn to do the HAKA and freak eveyrone out at the customs.

  6. dreymer says:

    Damn! If it’s because of the company, I’ll make myself a namebadge!

    Actually, when we flew off from Mumbai, they didn’t allow us to carry ONE laptop on board at all. They do come out with weird policies, alright.

  7. Ronald Armas says:

    Or maybe they guessed you´re the "Merchant of Venice"

  8. Ramjee says:


    I am sorry that you faced such an issue. It’s not uncommon in some of the indian airports. As far as I know there is no rule as mentioned in the post. However, since there are no clear rules, some un scrupulous officials take advantage of the this situation to take bribes.

    I wish you a great stay in India.

  9. Loke Uei says:

    thanks for the kind words. What is life without these eventful moments 😉 don’t worry, I’m still enjoying Mumbai! Let’s see what the evening holds for us, it’ll be our first group outing.