I’ve been laughed at and ridiculed by my friends for not knowing places in the city that I’ve lived my entire life. Firstly, I shrugged it off as, “Hey, I’ve never been to that part of Chennai. I’ve never been required to go there. So why would I know? And why should I know?”
Off late, I’ve come to realize it’s just not simply that. I am not travel safe. I’ve been lost so many times, even with Google maps at hand.
So under normal circumstances, traveling to Paris alone should be one helluva ride for me. To tell the truth, I was scared out of my wits. For days I was telling to myself, “Vith, you’re going to be well prepared. Not clumsy. Not klutzy, and super careful. No drama this time around”
My mind kept constantly reminding me of all the things that could go awfully wrong.
1. Lose my passport.
2. Miss the connecting flight at Dubai.
3. Lose my cash/card.
4. Laptop doesn’t work
5. Fall sick
6. Get stuck between racist flight passengers.
I was pacifying myself, “Vith, this time you are going to be prepared. You’ve got a satchel in which you will have all you documents, and you never going to leave it behind. Not even when you are visiting the Loo” talking to myself. My mom reminded me, “Keep your passport safe. With your track record, you should lose it within 10 minutes in the airport”. “Perfect”,I frowned muttering to myself.
I met up with a few of my colleagues(Saravanan, Kanagaraj and Esakki) at the airport. After some searching and a lot of phone calls of course. With me, nothing is simple. Everything has to be complicated. Sigh. They were helpful enough to get to me through the security check, and immigration without any trouble. Well, not before the immigration officer questioned me a 6 year old girl about the purpose of my visit. My damn luck!
I boarded the Emirates flight from Chennai to Dubai at around 4 AM IST. Thankfully I got a seat by the aisle. The passenger next to me was a Firangi as we Indians call. He slept through most of the flight, and had beer first thing in the morning(which kinda alarmed me). Perhaps it is quiet normal in his country. I do not know. Anyway, the point is he was an okay fellow passenger, except for his mild snoring.
The problems started right when we landed in the Dubai International Airport. My seat 35D E zone was neither located near the front end nor the rear end. So, by the time I got to climbing down the ramp, the two buses waiting to transport the alighting passengers were already full, and probably my three colleagues took off in that.
Now, the flight landed at DXB at 7 35 AM, and my connecting flight to Paris was at 8 20 AM. As I waiting for the buses to return, I was thinking, “I’m so screwed. I am definitely going to miss the flight.” I was so goddamn scared. Worried that my colleagues will miss the flight because of me. I cursed the DXB for arranging just 2 buses. They are stupid! They already know that the flight was late, couldn’t they at the least make do with another bus? Or at the least give preference to passengers with a connecting flight? Damn them! It took a good 20 minutes for the buses to return, and 10 minutes to the alighting point.
As soon as I got down, and cleared the security check I saw my colleagues waiting for me. God, I was so thankful that they waited for me. They were anxious. “Why late?” one of the them asked as we started dashing towards the some random direction. “I missed the first buses”, I admitted admist short breaths.
After some scurrying up and down the DXB, we were about to board the flight(on its final boarding call) when one of us realized he’s left his hand luggage behind(Oops! Probably because of my being late). We had no other choice except to report it, and board the flight. I said a breathless hello to the stewardess, and handed over my boarding pass. She politely offered, “Oh my! You came running? Please have your seat madam. It’s on the right.” I said a thank you, and started walking amidst an almost full flight.
“Oh my God! It has started again”, I thought of my ridiculous luck, as I walked down to my seat. I had a window seat. I frowned. Of course there is the great view, and additional space. But I can get up and walk around as I wish. If I did so I’d be a pain to the elderly couple sitting beside. I took my seat, greeted them with a reluctant,”Bonjour” The lady smiled, and replied,”Bonjour,” and a whole lot of fast French. Embarassed I said,”Mon Francaise rudimentaire. Parlez vous Anglais?”(Translaton: My French is rudimentary. Do you speak English?) She laughed, “Yes yes. Have a pleasant flight”. “You too”, I smiled. After that I left them to themselves. The flight was 6 hour long, and I made the most of the time in my flight by… sleeping through the entire journey 😛
A Lisa Kudrow(in her 20s) look-alike woke me up in half sleep, and offered me my lunch, which I thanklessly took, put it away and started to sleep again. Sleep makes me forget manners. I later offered her a sorry, when she came up with a tray of coffee. I took the cup, for which she replied,”The entire tray’s for you darling”. “Oh!” I said sheepishly and took the tray; this time with a thanks. She smiled and went away. The weird thing is, the only thought that came up to my mind at time was, “Whoa! She’s hot” Weird.
After landing in the Charles De Gaulle airport, I was lost again. Like a sheep following the herd, I went wherever the French went. I passed through immigration, and started looking around when I saw a sign”<- Sortie Luggage”. A few electronic boards suggested the Check-in baggage from Flight EK 073 can be collected from station 13. I went up, and saw no one. I started looking around, when a Chinese looking man came up and asked,”EK 073 luggage?” I nodded. “It’s over there”, he pointed in another direction, with a ton of people waiting near the conveyor belt. “This is business class”, he said. “Oh!” I said and walked towards station 14, and I collected my baggage. So much embarrassment!
Wow. Even after zero clumsiness, zero klutziness and super carefulness, I end up being in a soap opera. So much for the “No drama this time around”. Sigh. I started looking around.