Part – II
Despite the heavy rains outside, somehow it was just me in the whole airport who had been so visibly affected by it. After having relieved my bladder and changed my clothes at the washroom, I engaged in yet another interesting conversation with the attendant inside. She told me how people often carried more than 100 mL fluid material in their hand baggage and how painful it was to discard them after the security check. “Such a shame,”she said, “All that expensive Facewash, lotion and perfumes. We can’t use them. We just have to throw them away.”
In the middle of this conversation, I forgot to pay attention to an announcement that was going to change my life. “Dear travelers, we regret to inform you that one of the planes has skidded on the runaway while trying to take off because of which all flights have been temporarily suspended.”
I heard the announcement but stupidly ignored the implication of what had just been said. Meanwhile, my sister finally managed to arrive at the airport. Due to my impulsive decision (blame my bladder) to enter into the airport I was not able to chat with her for long at the gate. Instead we had to talk over the phone while looking at each other through the glass wall. How tragically romantic. After a series of brief instructions, wishes of good luck and selfies, we bid each other adieu only to meet again later the very same night.
Now I was standing in the queue for check in. However, the queue wasn’t moving anymore because they had stopped taking luggage til the issue at the runaway got resolved. Remember the announcement before? I was finally realizing what it actually meant. Minutes turned to hours, and I was still standing at the same spot in the queue chatting with another fellow passenger – both of us clueless about what we should be doing. And it was then another announcement was made – My flight had been cancelled.
The whole ordeal I had taken to come to the Airport played in front of my eyes in sepia. I waited for the announcement to be made again, hoping I hadn’t heard it right the first time. But I had. Wow. At least, I had prevented myself from a being a no-show. Little did I know that that wouldn’t matter after all. I broke away from the queue only to get into another one. My feet hurt. My head spun. After two hours of waiting, I got my flight rescheduled for the next night. I called my sister and narrated the whole story to her. It was decided that I should return and spend the night in her hotel room. I booked a cab, waited even for that for an hour but finally met my sister again and fell asleep soon after.
Me and my sister spent the next day at our hotel room looking at the clouds through the window and praying it wouldn’t rain hard. Our prayers were answered. It wasn’t the sky’s turn to weep anyway. I returned to the airport at night thinking I would be leaving the country in a couple of hours.
Deja Vu. I had stood in that check in queue before. But this time at least it was moving forward. I arrived at the fork of the queue (I hate it when it has that) and I started competing with the an old couple for who gets into the main queue first. I won. And then I abandoned it entirely later.
Behold the biggest shock of my life – Imagine this; You have a booked ticket to relatively unknown place in England. Since it’s not a very popular destination, there are no direct flights to this place. So your flight takes you to there via different places in different European countries – let’s say, Paris and Amsterdam. You are happy thinking how you are going to get a brief glance of the airports of these two beautiful cities. But here’s the catch – it’s kinda cute that you are dreamy but unfortunately, you are also stupid. Though you have paid a relatively high fare to reach directly to your “dream” city, you haven’t bothered to check if you require any transit visa for travelling from one Schengen country to another. It’s normal to assume that since you are not going to leave the airport you won’t require any transit Visa at all. However, when you assume you make an ass out of your own self. So you are in the International Airport now, all queued up and then an officer comes up to you, asks you to show your ticket and Visa. You do, confidently. “No, you can’t travel on this,” You hear the dude say. “You require a transit Visa for flying from Paris to Amsterdam.” After a few pleas of “Officer, Can nothing be done now?” and repeatedly hearing the word, “No” you decide to cancel your whole ticket and then later you find out that it can’t be refunded and also all tickets directly going to England are overbooked.
What a night. I spent it all arguing with my travel agent (Makemytrip), Jet airways and Air France. Instead of me losing my temper at them, it was them who lost their temper at me. The guy at Air France customer care was exceptionally hilarious. The only people who treated me with certain amount of sympathy were the ones who had screwed me the hardest in the first place – My travel agent. I asked them to book another flight. They did for the next night. So I had to spend double the money on the new flight and I was not getting any refund on the previous ticket. But the story gets better. My sister had already left Mumbai. So I had nowhere to go. I was so embarrassed and frustrated by the whole situation that I was kind of glad that she wasn’t there. I decided to tell no one and I put my phone on flight mode. Yeah, stupid decision. But haven’t I made it specifically clear by now how stupid I am?
Long hours of waiting awaited me. I took my baggage trolley to the seating area. I spent half of the night weeping and half of it trying to sleep with my head on the trolley and rest of my body adjusted in a single seating chair. I was hungry but I didn’t eat. I was thirsty but I didn’t care. I tried to calm down. I tried telling myself everything was going to be okay. But I really wasn’t sure about the authenticity of that statement. I knew talking to my family would have helped me but I didn’t want anyone else to be worried. So, I sat on that chair with my stupid secret that really didn’t have to be a secret and somewhere in early morning, I fell asleep. After two hours of a painful and uncomfortable nap, I woke up to the gloomiest day ever.