For someone who hasn't been back home in more than two and a half years, I figured I would be a bit more excited than I initially was. After a really good time with Babuchitti, Nikita and Anand, I was extremely drained. Furthermore, three days of packing and cleaning was certainly not an entertaining prospect. But I must say that 2 sleepless nights and many food less hours later, I successfully pulled through. After all the packing and cleaning ans storing, I finally managed a smile. I was going back HOME !!! CHEMBUR!!!...well almost.
On the way to the airport, I managed a small nap. I suddenly woke up and screamed (&^$@($! I had forgotten my H1B Visa approval notice. What was worse, there were two things that could have happened- it could either be in the trunk of my car back in Pennsylvania, or in a dumpster at my old apartment place. Talk about the importance or rest and food! We stopped at some point mid-way and checked my passport which thankfully had the required I-94 card. Also, Ankit, who was giving me a ride to the airport, mentioned that I wouldn't really need the approval notice since I am going back to my home country. I took his word, but the nervousness remained. Long story short, I found it in another bag while waiting in line and looking for a story book.
Alright, everything in place, boarding pass in hand, through the security clearance. I was feeling much better. The thoughts of Bombay came back and so did the smile on my face. I also managed to make some small talk with people around. But the smile was short-lived. I noticed that my boarding pass did not have a seat number on it. No seat number!! And then I hear the announcement that the flight was overbooked! I talked to some airport personnel and the answer I got was "please wait, your name will be called"..AAARGH!!!
It looked like some other passengers were in a similar situation. I waited patiently and tried to remain calm. But the wait was excruciating. After all the passengers had boarded the plane, I heard a heart-wrenching announcement. "The flight is full, please come forward to hear your options". And then they go on to call out 10 or so names. I didn't hear my name and went directly to the desk to see what was going on. They asked me to wait in line and be patient. So I was pushed back to the last position in the line. From what I gathered, they were offering hotel accommodation, $400 as compensation and a seat on the next available flight. My further worry was that the next flight MUST be a direct flight, else I would have to wait for one given my Visa situation.
I waited and waited. $400 seemed like a good deal of money, but I wanted to go to Chembur, to Savitha! But I stopped thinking about it and took humor in the fact that a fat Gujju in front of me was misunderstanding the whole concept of compensation. He thought he was being paid $400 for his ticket which he paid $1000 for and was freaking out about it. Thankfully someone explained it to him in Hindi and he was good, but the rotten fellow delayed my wait. At this point, I just shut off and wanted to go sleep in my hotel room. My turn came and the desk attendant was a rottenly rude woman. Any question I asked, she just said I do not know but you can contact customer service. But I was handed the compensation form. I was asked to proceed to the Customer Service area. I was, till now, near the boarding gate. I took it and began to walk away, following the other passengers.
My heart was sinking. It was 8.25PM. If things were right, I would have been taking off at 8.30PM. Just as these thoughts were clouding my brain, I heard someone call my from behind. I turned around. There were now 4 desk attendants, 1 more than the 3 there were initially. This one had come in from inside the plane. Apparently, one elderly passenger had not shown up and there was one seat free. And...THEY WERE OFFERING IT TO ME!!!! So my options were $400 and a crappy hotel room for a night or ONE DAY AT HOME!!! DUH!! I threw the paper at the rude lady's face (well, in my mind at least, in reality, I politely handed it to her :D ) and ran inside like there was no tomorrow. It was 8.29PM at this point. I reached the flight and was directed to the last seat.
:) ....that's all I had on my face. I couldn't believe my luck. I rested, saw a movie called Hachi which reminded me so much of Raju mama. Its about a dog who absolutely adores his owner Richard Gere, a great film and a must watch for all of you.
Now that I've slept a while and woken up, I am able to concentrate a bit. I really wanted to share this roller coaster of a beginning with you. But if this is a precursor to the summer I am about to have, I just cannot wait for it!
Also, seeing one of my fav movies right now. Live Long and Prosper! (Anand, :) ST, the new one!)