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Passport – do not leave home without it

May 10th, 2012 | No Comments

When folks in San Francisco ask me about my trip to India, I tell them about the friends and family I met, the incredible food and restaurants and the incredibly modern and well designed buildings, I skip the part about the near disastrous start or my attack of food poisoning or the cancelled flights. Because while I could have easily done without those challenges, my trip was still just fantastic. Still, here is an account of the very avoidable and near disastrous beginning of the trip.

When we reached the SFO airport at 4 pm we had just about enough time to check in our bags and go lounge around at the departure gate. At the luggage counter, when I was asked for my passport, I discovered that I did not have it on me. After I called my ride, she turned around to pick me up and I ran out of the airport yelling words of reassurance to my companion. I would be back by 4:30 pm. It was already 4:05 pm at that time.

Praying and chanting at the wheel of my friend’s truck, I made it back at 4:29 pm with just one minute to spare. Don’t ask me how. I just did it.

The gracious staff at British Airways made the earlier stress a distant memory as we settled down in our seats, listening to the clipped British accent of our pilot telling us that we were leaving early and would arrive even earlier than expected. This was great news, considering that we had just one hour to catch our connecting flight. No worries, I thought to myself. After all a short saunter from one gate to another was all we had to do when we landed so catching the connecting flight should be a piece of cake. Right? Wrong.

After circling the London skies and seeing every major landmark ad nauseum, we arrived late. We tore out of the plane and found out that we had to take a train to another terminal to get to our gate. Aaaargh! Never mind, we had twenty five minutes to spare, I smiled encouragingly to my companion. He frowned in return, reminding me of the way he had looked when I left him at the airport with eight bags to manage, at the British Airways counter. We tore out from the train and made a beeline for the gate. But wait! We had to go through security. Again?

“Are you going to catch the flight to Delhi?” the woman at the security checkpoint asked me, as she squinted at the boarding pass. She shook her head. I pleaded. We still had fifteen minutes. We could make it. But we were doomed to wait.

We took off from London after ten long, frustrating hours. Ten hours with no easily accessible WiFi. Welcome to London Heathrow.

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