After being stranded for 75 days in Kolkata due to the lockdown I was finally able to take a flight to Guwahati on June 6. On arrival, after being tested for COVID-19, I spent 14 days in mandatory home quarantine in Guwahati. During this period I applied for and obtained permission from the Meghalaya government to return home to Shillong in my own car.
With eager anticipation I left Guwahati on the 22nd morning and arrived at the Byrnihat check point around 10 am. After the initial registration of the car at the first point I proceeded to the next one a few yards away where 3 counters had been set up for further checks. And this is where my ordeal began.
After being directed to the wrong counter thrice I stood in the queue at the first counter by which time an hour had already passed since my arrival at Byrnihat. There were 3 staff at this counter and barely 10 people in front of me but it took almost 2 hours for me to get my registration done. Quite obviously the staff were not trained properly and appeared to be unsure of the procedure and at least one of them was struggling with the computer while filling in details.
The next counter was no better and again another couple of hours were lost before I was able to move to the third and final counter. What struck me as odd, apart from the inefficiency of the staff, was the fact that at the two counters the questions asked by the staff were similar and appeared to be an unnecessary duplication of work.
I finally reached the third counter after which my blood and swab tests were done. Half an hour later, after collecting my health advisory and certificate I was able to leave - frustrated, hungry and exhausted - at 4.15 pm. I had spent over SIX HOURS at the check point at Byrnihat. After the efficiency and professionalism displayed by the staff at Guwahati my experience at the first point in Meghalaya was a rude shock!
The rest of the journey was smooth with the final reporting point at Polo handled by efficient and courteous staff who arranged for my 48-hour institutional quarantine. On day 19 after leaving Kolkata I was finally able to go home and be with the family.