Monday, July 11, 2005

Lewis and Clark...sort of

Did I ever tell you about my epic journey across the seas? The “epic” part, though, was completely unintentional, which somehow makes it more fascinating. So here goes. It started on New Year’s Eve, 2001. I was scheduled to leave at 1AM on a flight to Paris en route to Atlanta. After a harrowing drive in thickening fog and weaving amidst Delhi’s aggressive drivers (New Year’s Eve, so many of them were intoxicated and aggressive), goodbyes were said and after a delay due to there being a malfunction in the aircraft toilets (too much information there), I boarded at about 3AM.
Now, all of us passengers were already pretty fed up with the wait. So I, like almost everyone else, fell asleep after fidgeting around and listening to the announcements that we would be taking off soon. Meanwhile, the fog thickened. When I opened my eyes after a fitful sleep, my co-passenger was exclaiming about how smooth he thought our landing was; here we were, in another continent, and we hadn’t felt a thing!
It was then that I, playing the bad guy, pointed to the building outside our window that had a sign in crisp Devanagri script: “Indira Gandhi International Airport.” Yep, we were on firm ground, it was January 1st, but our posteriors were still very much in the Motherland. Our French pilot was meanwhile, apologizing, but to me he sounded suspiciously amused. Then again, maybe it was just the accent.
So we were hauled off to a hotel; my long-suffering father dutifully put in another appearance for a second round of goodbyes, and that night I boarded the flight again. This time we made it to Paris, where we were told we were being rerouted to New York, since Atlanta was snowed in. After a while, they told us that since New York was now snowed in, they didn’t know where to reroute us. Thereafter, each passenger was individually informed as to which destination in the US they would be flown to. Mine was Miami.
So, OK. Miami it was. They changed my boarding gate at the last minute, as a result of which I nearly boarded a flight to Copacabana, Brazil, but that seemed minor by now. Upon landing in Miami, I waited at the luggage carousel with the patience of an angel, only to discover that my luggage, alas, had failed to make it across the Atlantic and was still somewhere in the innards of Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. I began to feel the first stirrings of hysteria in some corner of my brain. But I made it to the customs clearance, where I found I had no idea what date to put down on my form and was helped out by a sympathetic official.
My final destination, Tallahassee, was a two-hour flight away, but at this point it may as well have been on Pluto. After getting through immigration, etc., where a grumpy official determined that I was not a suspicious alien and could be allowed inside his great country, I was told that I had missed the last flight out to Tallahassee.
This was where the afore mentioned hysteria nearly kicked in full-blown. I nearly, very nearly, sat down on the floor and/or rolled around, foaming at the mouth and screeching unintelligibly. But the official at the counter was evidently used to dealing with this sort of situation and didn’t call for back up. Instead, acting swiftly, he gave me a voucher for a hotel stay, directed me to a bus, and wished me well. The next morning, at 6AM, I boarded that blessed flight to Tallahassee.
When my foot finally touched the ground at Tallahassee, I was tempted to kneel and kiss the tarmac, like I had seen the Pope do on television. I wisely desisted, however; I counted it as a personal victory that I had made it, against such terrible odds. The icing on the cake was actually being sure of what day and date it was, and the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to get on a plane again for a long, long time.

2 comments:

Col said...

Quite eventful I must say(understatement I think)

geminian said...

Really it’s a personal victory through such a hysterical journey

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