Note: This is the first article I wrote in Medium, and it was of inferior quality, I’ve therefore decided to upgrade this article to make it match my new style. 😁
Alright, let’s get started!
In March 2015, during my first year of my college, one night around 8 pm. We got to hear the news that there was a swine flu outbreak in the city and someone from our college.
This caused panic amongst everyone in the college, no one had any idea what they had to do… should they go home? should they stay in their room? should they eat outside and not trust the hostel food? how does it spread?
I thought there was no point in panicking as I could do nothing about it, I informed my parents about the same, and they asked me to be careful and not roam around much, and do what the college advises, I agreed and by 10.30 pm, I was already in a deep sleep.
I suddenly get woken up at around 1 am, with my friend frantically telling me that the college has decided to close down for 2 weeks, and all of us have been given eviction notices. We could leave our stuff behind, but we had to leave the hostel by tomorrow.
We began to panic and look for flight tickets to escape the hostel, as we were equally scared that the virus would get us, and we need to escape as quickly as possible. After all, when a college, so obsessed with attendance says that you have to leave now, things must be pretty serious.
We were horrifyingly looking at the price of the tickets going up and up every time we refreshed the page, and as college students, we were too broke to even afford the cheapest of them all. We tried looking for train tickets, but alas, as everyone knows in India, it’s virtually impossible to get a train ticket.
With ever-increasing stress, we tried to get some sleep, we barely managed to get any, but we pretended to.
By the morning, when we woke up and went to the mess for breakfast, it was nearly empty, almost everyone had managed to go home, or were packing their bags to do the same.
This put us in further panic, and I started to make calls to my home, asking to be brought back home. My dad managed to pull some strings, and got me an offer.
An offer to come back home today at 25k, or an offer to go back tomorrow with my friend at 18k.
The second offer, is the flight ticket that I had managed to check with my friend last night, and I was forced to make a choice, and my family increasingly pressured me to take the first one.
I was beyond heartbroken to accept this offer, but I did not have any other choice, I didn’t have 18k in my bank account, and the transfer from my home to the college would take several days.
And with a heavy heart. I chose the 1st offer, to take the more expensive flight today and leave my friend behind. I could not bring myself to apologize, and till today I haven’t, but it was gut-wrenching to leave a friend, especially the one with whom I had shared a lot of laughs.😢
I went to the airport, all the while texting about what he was doing and where he was, did he get the flight, and boarded the plane, I had a stop at Delhi airport, and I was on my flight home.
After flying home, taking a hot shower, and constantly nagging my friend to check if he made it back home, he finally replied that he did, and I was very relieved ( he lived in a different city than mine ).
It was a pretty happy two weeks, with not much stress, and nothing to worry about in college, met my old friends, who greeted me with a classical namaste rather than a handshake. It was all fun and games, so it was all good.
Now, came the time to go back to college, easy right? 🤨 I mean yeah, you had a money problem, and you had to leave early when you had left, but now it’s easy when you are going back to college; do the same booking, but in reverse, right?
Yes, true. I did that, just 3 days before the college said that they would open up, and everything is safe, the city has also handled all the cases of the swine flu.
Cool. Let’s book and go!😁
Until…, just the day before I had to go… a plane skidded in the only international airport in Nepal! 50 people were killed and several more injured. Are you kidding me? Just a day before I had to leave, everything was planned out and you are telling me a plane crashed, killed 50 people, and damaged the only runway in the entire country?
Now, I was in trouble. Do you recall my college being super strict about attendance? Yeah. That’s kicking in, really really hard.
I got on calls with travel agencies, airport counters, and everyone that I could, but alas, no one could help, after all, the plane had skidded over, they had to move the plane, fix the runway, and only then could the next flight could begin. I didn’t even have the train tickets to make it back to my college in a 3 days journey, because… yup, I’ve mentioned it before, it’s near impossible in India to get a train ticket.
This one week was the most anxious waiting week I’ve faced so far, a full week of where I wanted to do something, and it was completely out of my hands, and finally when I got a ticket. It was the worst travel itinerary of all time. 😫
Flight from Kathmandu to Delhi — 3pm to 4.30pm
Flight from Delhi to Surat — 10 am to 12.30pm ( the next day! )
And guess who didn’t have any friends in Delhi?
Freaking 18 hours. 18 hours of sitting around in an airport with nothing to do. Can I go around and have fun in the city? Nope. I’d reach the airport around 4.30, and completing all the formalities would take an hour, which makes it 5.30-6 pm and by then it’s practically pointless to go out.
So, I decided like a mad lad. I’d duke it out. I can do this. 18 hours is nothing, I will pass time by simply listening to music or roaming around like I had nothing to do. Spoiler alert…, I didn’t have to do any of it, because more trouble was on my way.
The flight from Kathmandu to Delhi was smooth, with no hassles, no nothing, wait, fly, sit, wait, and there I’m in Delhi, congratulations!
I know my happiness will be killed by the 18 hours of waiting, but do you know what I didn’t know? My hand carry bag started ringing in the security check as I was entering Delhi airport!
Wait. What?! I didn’t carry anything offensive? How can this be? I’m not dumb enough to carry something that would get me in trouble…
Turns out, I had left 2 full bottles of deodorant spray bottle on my hand carry bag and I forgot about it… but it was too late…, the airport authorities asked me to come aside and enter a separate room.
But Samridh! something as stupid as this should have been caught in the first airport, even before you board, it’s a very minor issue and isn’t even a big deal. It happens all the time!
Yes, true. But remember, I told you everything went smoothly in Kathmandu airport, there was a huge backlog of tourists stuck in the airport, due to the flight crash, and people were trying to leave as soon as possible, and when it was my turn to check my bag, the security personnel asked me,
“what’s in the bag?”
Yes, asked me.
He didn’t bother to put it through a metal scanner… and I replied, just a towel and my laptop.
Of course, I was let go and I was caught on the other side, I had taken 2 whole bottles of deodorant.
I was taken to a separate room, and they asked to see my passport, which like a good boy, I handed it over to them, and to my surprise after giving it a quick read, they kept it with them!
I was in a different country, and my passport was taken away!
They started asking me who I am, what am I doing, and why am I there and to give them my mobile phone. I answered about myself being a college student, and wanting to go to college after waiting 18 hours in the airport.
They went in, checked my ticket, and after a full panic-inducing 30 mins where the only things I had were my clothes. They called the travel agency that booked the ticket for me and cleared me of everything.
I’m saying 30 mins as if it went all smoothly, but imagine being in a white room, with one serious-looking officer in uniform, who has my passport and my phone, going in and out of the room. It was incredibly nerve-wracking.
In the end, the officer told me that, I am not allowed to carry this much liquid with me on any flight, so, he told me I had two options, either I surrender the cans to them and leave, or spray until I have 250 ml left, and I leave.
I happily surrendered the bottles, thanked them for understanding, apologized for my mistakes, and left.
All good things happen for a reason, and I thought that these 30 mins were nerve-wracking, but at least I have to wait a little less, so I left the room, and went to the baggage pickup counter…. and guess what happens if you leave your baggage unattended for 30 mins in one of the busiest airports in the world? It gets lost.
Are you kidding me?
I had to :
- Ditch a close friend to get back home.
- Had to reach college a week ago.
- A plane crashed and damaged the only runway in the country.
- Get caught with 2 bottles of deodorant.
- Needed to wait 18 more hours until the next flight.
And you’re telling me I lost my baggage? Are you kidding me?
Alright, alright, I got my phone back, I have some juice left in it, let’s call up home and inform them of the situation…, they picked up, and I let them know these things have happened, they guided me to talk with several personnel and they’d also talk to the travel agency on my behalf for the lost baggage.
Here are my 2 hours of anxiety summarized in a handful of points,
- go to the help desk. No, you can’t? Cool, where should I go next?
- go the airline’s desk? No? Nobody’s in? Alright, back to the help desk I guess.
- go to the help desk, hmmm, nobody there? Alright, I’ll make a call, Please wait 5 mins, the personnel will reach there shortly.
- go the airline's desk? oh? okay… I’ll make a call, please be patient.
- hello? Captain? Is anything left on the plane? Nope…
- Is anything left in the baggage trailer? Nope…
- Go to the help desk, bother the lady until she finally makes a call to a person, and repeat.
After waiting for 2 and a half hours, I finally, got my baggage.
Finally, I got my baggage, and everything… and only 14 more hours of waiting left…
Alright, I’m too exhausted for this, let’s get dinner, and let’s find a place to lie down, and call it a day, I have a flight tomorrow and a college to attend.
So, I went and had dinner, found a place to lie down, and then tried to take a nap
And guess who didn’t get a wink of sleep?
The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, I charged my phone up as I ate in the airport, I lay down and kept several alarms because the last thing I wanted to do was miss the next flight and tried to get some sleep which I couldn’t get and all the sleepiness kicked back in when I was in my 2nd flight which was super uncomfortable.
Nonetheless, I reached college safely, got fresh, and was able to get back to classes just fine.
In the end, the closure of my college was because of an ongoing movement that had sparked mass protests in the college, and to shut it down, they had misused their administrative power and called in an evacuation notice, and the whole fiasco was a massive waste of time, money and mental peace.
This experience made me ignorant of facts and evidence about the COVID virus which is coming up in 2020.
So, the next time you ask me why I hate traveling? Well, this story is one of the reasons….
Wait… one of the reasons?
Yes. One of them, this article is already long enough… next time….
Thank you so much for reading to the end. I’m pretty new to writing up experiences and sharing them like this. Please let me know what you think. I’d love some feedback. Any funny comments are also appreciated. I wouldn’t have shared this story if I wasn’t comfortable telling it, so… bash away!