Eavesdropper: Too old to fly out

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SummaryEvery industrialist has his favourite story of bureaucratic idiosyncrasies, but this takes the cake.

Every industrialist has his favourite story of bureaucratic idiosyncrasies, but this takes the cake. Earlier this month, Neil MacGregor of the British Museum regaled an audience in Mumbai with his story of how his precious Ibis was unable to fly out.

Six months ago, MacGregor said, the British Museum had lent Mumbai's Prince of Wales Museum an Egyptian mummy for an exhibition and, along with this, a mummified Ibis, a bird usually associated with the God Thoth – often Thoth appears as a man with the head of an Ibis.

After the exhibition was over, the mummy was returned, “but your Indian bureaucrats”, MacGregor told the squirming audience, “said it was illegal to export skins, birds, etc. So it seems that migratory birds, even if they are 5,000 years old, can fly into India but cannot fly out of the country. We hope this is resolved soon as we want our 5,000-year-old Ibis back. We are continuing the discussion!”

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