We had been told by Expedition Freight that our freight would go straight to the IMF. Dream on! The procedure upon arrival in India is that when your freight arrives, the paperwork is sent to the contact address you have given - in our case the IMF. Expedition Freight had bulked our equipment in a large consolidated consignment which had been addressed to an agent in India, so we had to go to the agent to collect the paperwork (for a fee). Once you collect these papers, you then have to go to the international cargo terminal to collect your freight (see customs in the appendices). With the gas canisters, we felt a little hard done by. The required ``special packing to IATA standards'' merely involves wrapping up the canisters in newspaper and then packing them into boxes with hazardous stickers on. It might be worth talking directly to an airline about freighting your gas. A lot of expeditions finish with canisters left. The IMF will store these for a fee, so it would be worth asking to see if you could buy some in Delhi.
On the way out of India, we went directly to the international cargo terminal to freight our luggage home. We initially tried British Airways, but discovered that, if you are not arranging it through a shipping agent, it is only possible to send unaccompanied baggage on an airline with which one is flying. The staff at the Alitalia office were very friendly and helpful, but the return freight worked out very expensive. Freight charges are levied on a sliding scale, depending on the size of the shipment. We only had 65kg, but it worked out cheaper to send it as 100kg as then it was in the next tariff band. We found it rather strange that, again, nobody actually bothered weighing it. Perhaps we should just have claimed it weighed 30kg? In retrospect, it would have probably been better to have gone to a cargo agent in Delhi and to have had our luggage put into a consolidated shipment. The plunging pound only made things worse. We payed approximately £1 a kilo on the way out and £3 a kilo on the way back. Clearing the luggage through Heathrow was fantastic compared to Delhi. It took around an hour, and was completely hassle-free, if rather expensive at nearly £20.