Essential lessons reinforced.
Yesterday I had the travel day from hell. It began at 4.30am, Western Australia time, when I got up to catch a cab to the airport.
First of all, I found myself on the end of a 30-minute tirade from my taxi driver about the evils of Islam; it was full of mis-quotes, lies, stigma, hate and ignorance, and for the most part I shut up since I really just wanted to get to the airport. Once we arrived, I said to him, ‘you are very ignorant of the truth and you would do well to study this properly – you cannot disguise such nastiness by using the words I don’t judge anyone and I love everyone when all of your other words show that this is not the case – it is just this kind of hypocrisy that is causing so much harm in the world’. I’m probably going to write a letter of complaint to the taxi company.
Then, when I checked in for my flight it turned out I had not booked it with my-name-as-it-is-shown-on-my-passport. I couldn’t believe it – what an idiot! I had put ‘Sue Fitzmaurice’ and actually my full first name is ‘Suzanne’. But I was lucky and they changed it quickly for me and didn’t charge me anything.
And then a small miracle occurred: I had a whole row to myself from Perth to Kuala Lumpur. Blessed!
Kuala Lumpur airport is like a small country: you have to walk to the other side for immigration and customs and then walk back again, and then take a train to another part. Because I was flying a different airline from KL to Delhi, I had to go through Customs, get my suitcase and then check in again. At another terminal. Once I actually found the train, I then proceeded to leave my shoulder bag on it. My second what-an-idiot of the day. I didn’t realise until I got to the check-in counter for my next flight – where I discovered again I had put not-the-name-on-my-passport on my booking. This time I had to go change my ticket and pay a fee, and all the time I’m thinking my bag is getting further and further away from me.
Finally I had my check-in sorted and went in search of my bag. It had my laptop and data stick – everything I needed to do my work – as well as my glasses, and a whole bunch of useful things. I had already said goodbye to it all in my head. Worse still, when I got down to the officials at the train level, I discovered that the train in question also went all the way into Kuala Lumpur city and back. Well, that’s that then, right?! I filled out a form and they said come back at 3pm and we’ll see. So I wandered about for half an hour, with – thankfully – my tiny string bag that had my passport, credit cards and money. Back at security at 3pm and they said ‘We have your bag, ma’am, it will be here in 5 minutes’. No way! Really?! I couldn’t believe it. I thanked them a million times – they didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. Muslim countries are very honest. Of course everything was in it – laptop, the lot, all untouched.
I went in search of a large, cold beer.
Next small miracle: I found myself in business class to Delhi. Seat back, feet up, oh it was bliss.
I was a little bit nervous about arriving in Delhi alone and having to find my way to my friend’s house across town. But everything was great. Queues were short, my suitcase was there, and I got a lovely, Arctic-air-conditioned taxi right at the kerb. And it was heaven to see my lovely friends after a year – it felt like coming home. Not even the crazy Indian drivers surprised me anymore.
Lessons learned and reinforced?
- Carry my back-up drive on my person!!!
- Let it go – either it will work out or it won’t.
- Pay attention to auto-correct on airline booking sites!
- Cold beer can be heaven.
- Most people are good everywhere you go.
- Look around to see that you have everything!
- When you think you’re having a bad day, remember that most people in the world don’t get to travel at all – you are privileged.
So much gratitude. Fell asleep after my 22 hour day. With the air con on full for Delhi’s 40c/110F night.