“I heard the sound my of mobile ringing, and I woke up. I checked the time and it was 6.00 am, it was an unusual time for someone to call me, I thought. When I answered, the freight forwarding agent was on the other end of the line.
“We have some very bad news for you”, she said.
“What, what?” I exclaimed, my slumber quickly wearing off.
“Quarantine has held back the second shipment of stones”, she said.
“Why?” I asked.
“They have found some dry neem leaves in the crates”, she replied.
“What does this mean?”, I asked.
“We don’t know, there is no way of knowing. The quarantine officers are in a world of their own. They have just held back the shipment, and we will need to wait”, she said.
My heart dropped. The date for the Kumbhabhishekam had been fixed and everything needed to go according to the plan with precision. Any delay would jeopardize this plan. This delay was totally unexpected. We had taken so much trouble to avoid this. We had invested in special silver oak wood, arranged for each timber to be heat treated; boxes made for each granite stone and then fumigated. At the end of it all, only to be told this was shocking.
“How long will it take to clear?” I asked her again.
“We really don’t know,” the reply came.
“In our experience, we had one shipment with some neem contamination, stuck in quarantine for over six months.”
Hearing this was too much to bear. I asked myself how this had happened. What happened to all the checks and balances we had put in place? We had even asked that the empty container be cleaned before stuffing it.
I told her thank you and asked her to keep me updated. Clearing of the container is usually a 2-3-day event. Two weeks passed, and the agent told me every day that there was no news from Quarantine. She went on to say Quarantine is not prepared to tell us how long this is going to take and what is the hold up.
I knew this needed divine intervention. I went to the temple and prayed to Sri Vakrathunda Vinayagar and vowed that if the shipment got cleared quickly, I would shave my head bald to express my gratitude to Him. The agent called me the next morning and told me that Quarantine had said that they wanted the boxes thoroughly cleaned before inspection.
I asked her if we could clean it as it would save costs and avoid delays. She called back in couple of hours and said yes. We quickly organised a group of volunteers armed with cleaning appliances and went there very early in the morning to have the boxes cleaned. I received a phone call the following day that Quarantine had released the goods.
After being told that neem leaf contamination could take up to six months to clear – with no definite understanding of the rationale for the goods being held up and no one to give us any concrete information – this news was a huge relief. In my mind, it was none other than Vinayagar’s intervention that made this possible.”