It was in 2012 when I got my first opportunity to visit a new country. I was supposed to go to Germany for a research course. The trip was not just my first international trip, but also my first opportunity to take a flight. Today when I look back, I realize how naive I was back then and how much I have matured overtime.
Me and my friend went together to Munich. We had a transit flight from Istanbul to Munich. All was well. We were supposed to reach Munich in the evening, grab our luggage, someone was supposed to pick us and we would head straight to our hotel. Little did we know, that the quote “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans” is waiting for us at the immediately next corner. Following are the events that unfolded in the next 12 hours:
- Flight cancelled: Our flight from Istanbul to Munich got cancelled. We were now transferred to another flight that would fly late, with a different boarding pass, and a different arrival terminal.
- Luggage!!! : While both of us were scared at the first instance, the jumbo size of the plane was quite a consolation. When we landed in Munich, it was raining and had started to get dark already. Things started to look international now. For the first time, we were surrounded by white people and it would not be a lie to say that we were little intimidated. We headed towards the cargo belt for plan number 2 i.e. to grab our luggage. At the cargo belt, my friend’s luggage passed twice before us. But he just did not want to take the risk of grabbing someone else’s luggage by mistake that he gave it a pass twice. Only on its third round did he pick up the luggage and confirmed it to be his own. Atleast one of us was smiling now. Meanwhile my bag had not given its stellar appearance even once. So after chanting the Hanuman Chalisa for almost 2-3 times, I realized the chanting is not working. I now went to the baggage inquiry to find out the whereabouts of my bag with bountiful of Maggie packets. It was there that the eventful welcome started to show its cards. My luggage was still in Delhi! I was given a survival kit of a t-shirt, toothbrush, paste, tampons etc.
- Will someone come to pick us? I held myself strong, holding the compensatory kit of 500 grams for my 30 kg luggage. We now had to locate the person who would pick us up and drop us at our hotel. Little did we realize that owing to the change in flight, miscommunication and confusion, we and the person who was to pick us up were standing at two different terminals. The poor fellow was waiting for two people in front of a gate from where they could never emerge.
- Why this indifference? We now thought of heading towards our hotel on our own. So we went to the cabs at the airport. Now, maybe we were not articulate enough or the world is really paranoid of Asians, or maybe the cabbies had had a really bad day, but in a nutshell no one wanted us to hail their cab. Our first international trip was now turning into a nightmare.
- When we met God! It is in these moments of despair that your brain starts to work most efficiently. Now when the clouds of hopelessness were darkening, we spotted a gentleman who looked South-Indian to us. Now all our hopes were stuck on this person. We wanted him to guide us, how to reach our destination. So we approached him and told him our ordeal. He then told us he is a Sri- Lankan and was waiting for his daughter who was coming from London. He had no clue about our hotel. But he was gracious enough to invite us to his own home and stay for the night and leave in the morning with a clear mind. At that moment both of us were so tired that without giving it a second thought, we immediately agreed to his offer. Once his daughter arrived, all four of us went to Uncle’s house and slept. It would not be wrong to say that God is not imaginary. He is living. He is amongst us and within us. And that night he appeared in front of us in one form.
- Panicked people: Next morning, after having a good breakfast, Uncle’s daughter called up the person who was supposed to pick us up. The poor fellow then told how panicked she got. She waited for us long after when we had left from the airport. Had we not called her, she was going to go to the police-station to declare us missing.
Overall, it was an absolutely adventurous first encounter with the World outside India. And it was a beautiful and fulfilling experience. I made some great friends, and even greater stories. And it was there that I met a friend who happens to be my husband now. So overall, I am thankful till date of everything that happened, how things unfolded and how they became a treasure of my life forever.