Category Archives: Travel

Airport Drama: Part 2

“Hi”, I said to Esakki as I was waiting for my luggage to come down the conveyor belt. “Where are the others?” I asked, searching for Kanagaraj and Saravanan amidst the foreign crowd. “I don’t know. They should be somewhere around”, he said and started looking for  his luggage. “Oh”, I paused and then continued, “But you did see them, right?”, I asked, feeling a bit wary. “Yes, yes”, he assured me.

For some odd reason I felt happy, and started looking for my luggage again. After a good few minutes, I caught a glimpse of the blue ribbon I had tied onto the handle of my luggage. Esakki helped me get my luggage off the conveyor belt and onto the luggage stroller. I was happy, all set and ready to go home. Well, home at least for a while.

We waited some more time for Esakki’s luggage to make its way down. But, nope it just wasn’t coming. I started to wonder if something wrong had happened. It was just then that I saw the other two guys. They were a bit frantic. I assumed it was due to the lost luggage at Dubai. Since it majorly concerned my being late, I felt very guilty to have felt happy just a few minutes back.

I went up to them and asked Kanagaraj, “What happened? Registered a complaint against the lost luggage?” I could sense that he was tensed too. I did not know why, until he said,”Well, we did not get our checked-in luggage”. “What?”, that was all I could offer. I was exhausted. He continued, “Yeah, we had already lodged a complaint. It was possibly because of the weight of our baggage. It was too heavy. So, they are probably bringing that on the next flight”. He seemed quite sure of it. But, I did not think so. It was my damn luck, plain and simple.

Meanwhile, Saravanan had found an Emirates staff, and was explaining the situation about the lost hand luggage. As soon as I noticed that, a sense of almost criminal guilt overcame me. Saravanan was trying desperately to make the guy understand what had happened, while I was looking on helplessly. I said a silent prayer, “Please God! Help him get his luggage back”. Obviously God had other plans, because the guy wasn’t being helpful. All I could see was… He was big. He was intimidating. And obviously did not speak much English.

I did stop feeling “that” guilty in a while though. Saravanan could have simply put it this way. “She was late, and I lost my luggage in the commotion” or even “I lost my luggage because she was late.” But this is what went down. He kept referring to me as “this girl” so many damn times that it kinda made feel less guilty. I am thankful that he helped me all along, but to be honest I did feel mildly annoyed at his pointing-fingers-school-girl-attitude. I might be a little wrong here to have felt annoyed (After all, he had helped me). But I am just being matter-of-factly honest.

I was doomed, and was on the verge of a melt-down. “Why is this happening to me!” I wanted to whine, but somehow I held it together. And then it happened. A lady clad in the standard Emirates attire came up to us. She was lovely. She was polite. And thank God she spoke English. So, Saravanan repeated the pointing-fingers-school-girl-attitude style complaint again. I rolled my eyes this time, and hopefully he did not look. She let him jot down the list of his stuff, and offered us much hope. He thanked her. I thanked her, and I was all but ready to leave.

As if there wasn’t enough drama for the day, Saravanan lost his camera. He went berserk. He did not know where he left it. Kanagaraj offered that they search the places they were roaming around. “It is a DSLR”, Saravanan exclaimed. So, they both ran in search of the lost camera. And I stood still; in awe at how many more things could go wrong. The lady at Emirates was baffled. “How many more things is he going to lose?” she asked. It was both rhetoric, and mildly funny. Funny because, at least she thought that Saravanan had lost his had luggage not because of “this girl” but because of his carelessness.

So, after a few minutes, they came back with the Cam. I think Kanagaraj had found it at the Immigration Check Booth. I don’t remember exactly. By this time, Esakki had returned from the Emirates complaint booth. And when I looked near the exit Gandhi stood. He had promised to come pick me up, when he realized how scared I was to travel alone by cab. No words could tell how relieved I was to see him. I ran up to him, pushing my stroller ahead of me.

I explained the whole lot of stuff to him in a record two minutes. He just smiled. God, he could be so calm. I introduced him to the others. Since Esakki was staying at the same Hotel as mine, Gandhi asked him to join us. He advised Kanagaraj and Saravanan to offer nothing more than 45 Euros for a cab ride. So, then we said our good-byes and made our way to the parking lot.

I noticed Esakki carrying his documents in a plastic folder. Suprised I asked him, “Why are you carrying important documents in a folder? What if they fell down?” It was as if an alarm went off in his head. He froze,”I missed my passport”

“Oh, Good Lord!” I thought.

A trip to Paris – Airport Drama

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.