Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Insignia on the way to America

My mind rewinds these particular series of incidents that happened with me; and this recollection happens quite frequently. Thinking about it even now, sends a chill down my spine. I cant believe I managed to survive those ordeal. But yeah, there must be some invisible supernatural guiding force or my utterly blind courage that led me through them. When we are so foolish, we get that gut courage that has never existed in us. This incident occurred 3 years back in June 2006.

Right from the beginning, things were shocking and over-whelming. OK, I have never boarded an aircraft prior to that day. It was jittery. It was not that I didn't get a chance to fly. I did get, but each time I preferred the more economical mode of transport. My senior manager at office was amused when he heard to what I said. I went to meet him to get his signature for my travel expense report; reading my expense report, he found that I took a bus to Chennai for my Visa interview. I saved the organization about 80% of the probable travel expenditure!

Forget boarding a plane, I had never ventured anywhere near an airport. So everything was new. Adding on to that, I had to travel solo. My manager called me and pleasantly wished a "Bon Voyage". I did not have anyone to receive me in USA. But I behaved as if everything was alright. Perfect!!!

Then came the day. My airline was Singapore Airlines, scheduled to depart around 12:30 AM. My folks accompanied me to the Bangalore airport. The first stupid behavior of mine was when a cute lady asked me to fill up some form. Oops, I didn't have a pen. A friend of mine went to a store and bought a pen. I filled the form out. All these things with my 50+ kg of luggage, my cabin suitcase, laptop and a vanity bag; as I was supposed to stay in USA for at least 3 months.

Once nearing immigration counter, visitors were not allowed entry. I could not manage my luggage anymore. I was using the cart, yet it was really uncomfortable, the cart was pulling me in all directions but not in the direction I want it to go. I know that thing played a dirty prank on me, so that I looked foolish for others.


So here I was, struggling my way upstairs to the baggage check area and then to the immigration. An attender who works in the airport saw my battle with the baggage, all this while my folks were still looking at the combat I was involved in through the glass partition. OK, this guy approached me in the sweetest manner possible, as if trying to show a gentlemanly behavior towards a lady and asked me if he could help. I was so naive, happily accepted his HELP. He shoved my nearly falling baggage properly to the cart and took it forward 5 feet, threw them on to the conveyor for the baggage check.

Well, is anyone so angelic? He asked me for money. All I had was 500 INR and others in $ and TCs. I had that 500 Rs to be used in case of emergency. It was meant to be held so that I could use it in case I had to make a phone call or to hire a taxi after I return back to India. I gave him a 100 Rs note. I thought he will give back some change. He just pocketed it and when I asked him, he said "Its OK madam!". I was like, could not believe it. I asked him to give me half the amount. He just walked away :-( My first bad experience.

Checked in the baggage, went to the immigration counter. A stern looking officer scanned my passport. It was as if I have committed a treason against my country!! He harshly asked me if I had my office ID and asked me to display it. I obediently showed my office ID and my invite letter. You see, it were my looks. I looked like a school girl, and was showing signs of nervousness.

Immigration check was done, screening was done, I waited for about an hour before I boarded the plane. Always had the habit of rushing to board a bus, and always been familiar with the idea of First Come First Serve. But I was one among the last few to be allowed to board the plane. Economy class you see. I didn't have an iota of idea. Was excited to see how a flight would like it, was pleased when the hostesses welcomed each one. I was waiting to occupy my seat. Guess what? I opted for Window seat!! Seat by the window is what you wanted as a kid, why kid? As an adult too. Isn't it nice to see the ever morphing scenery as we travel? Insignia had the same idea. To watch scenery while flying on a plane!!! How I wish someone was there to advise?

Real fun waits here for Insignia once inside the aircraft and later.....Poor thing, had no idea what all was waiting for her........

PS : I did not want to dig my own grave once for all by revealing all my funny misadventures in just one post. Let me do it in installments. So next is 'Insignia goes to America'...Watch out for it...Coming soon!


  1. heheh!

    quite interesting yaar !

    but a lot of confidence is required in such cases esp if no one is coming to receive u in an alien country :O

  2. Nice interesting post. I know the people at the Indian airports (including customs and immigration) go out of the way to treat passengers as criminals.

    Since you never travalled in a plane and wanted a window seat, I was imagining you wanted the window seat to open the window in case there is not enough air inside. ha ha ha.

    Looking forward to reading your next segment.

  3. :-) yeah sista.

    I dont know if that was confidence or what. It was some blind gut!!! For everyone else who had traveled so many times and were familiar with the place, had someone to receive them.

    Just wait for my next installment :-D
    Will reveal what all interesting things happened

  4. Hey SG,

    Oh yeah, I was treated like a criminal at the immigration and I was a victim of that attenders ploy.

    Well, no. I didn't want window seat to open the window.But I wanted it for the view throughout my flight :-D

    Next segment coming soon!!

  5. You actually paid a guy to load your luggage onto the cart? :O

    Damn funny experience! My first solo trip wasn't half as hilarious as this one!

    Can't wait for you to reach America in the next :P

    P.S. Once the plane takes off, all you see below is white fluffy candy floss.

  6. I was only joking.

    I have to say something here about American immigration. When a U.S. citizen arrives from a foreign trip, the officer (at least in SFO) says with a broad smile: "welcome home".

  7. Atleast you did not fall sick! I had a 30 hour journey.. (dont ask how) and had terrible nausea for the most part of it!

    @ SJ: I did hear about the American immigration officers welcoming their citizens... isnt it a warm gesture?
    In stark contrast when I gave a polite smile to our Indian immigration guy on my return to Bbay... he looked at me as if I was committing blasphemy! Pathetic!

  8. Hi Shaunak,

    Yeah, Rather than calling it 'paying', I would say he 'snatched' it from me :-(

    Oh hmm, lot of hilarious stuffs coming up.

    Just wait!! :-)

  9. this is what exactly happens to me, somw how i managed. the customs and immigration officers are never friendly

  10. Hi SG,

    I got it.

    Yeah, I have observed the warm gesture of officers at US immigration. Not only with the US citizens, with visitors too, they welcome with a warm smile and say "Have a pleasant stay. And hope you enjoy your stay here'.

    Whereas in India, its as if 'why the heck did you come?'

    Immigration during arrival in India(at least in Bangalore) has been not so wonderful experience. They see you with suspicion. Didnt even greet. I recall the way an old American couple were treated. They would have had second thoughts about staying back!!

    And with me, the officer figured out I was a local. And sternly asked "Hegidhira?" meaning "How are you?"
    And didn't even wait to hear my response, stamped my passport and shown the exit!!! At least he initiated a question.

  11. Hi P,

    Welcome to B Log. :-)

    Oh I didn't fall sick. Or even if I did, maybe I didn't realize in all those frenzy.

  12. Hi Dhans,

    Welcome back after a real long time
    Yeah, they are never friendly, they treat people as if they are criminals. :-|

  13. This was funny but sad could they treat you like this especially when you were traveling alone?

  14. Hi Gayathri,

    It turned out be a learning experience, though it was funny and sad. Actually, nothing really happened until whatever I have written now.

    Wait for bigger things :-)

  15. whoa Bindu...brought me back memories when i tried to board Emirates en-route to UK the first time!! i went thru most of them yu 've mentioned but i didnt want to blow my trumphet :)!! anyways poor yu..dont ever lend money to those bystanders...they are cruel than the auto walaz. cya around..lookin fwd for america post:)

    H a R y

  16. Hehe i know the feeling! Haven't flown in 9 years. Dreading the next experience. The first time is always something.

  17. Hi Hary,

    Oh! you too? Hmm...mine are mix of fun, stupid and few worse experiences. So I am in fact digging my own grave here :-D

    But I must say it taught me life's survival lessons.

    Hmm, just hang around and more misadventures coming in

  18. Hi Kish,

    Oh yeah, it is!! Overwhelming, frenzy and something churning in your stomach!!

  19. hehehe.. taking notes.. who knows..! :)

  20. Loved reading the post yaar.
    Ya those first flight journeys are always exciting, distressing and eventful na... Some people find it eventful even if it is not their first journey as they never change. :-p if you know what i mean... You know, I once paid the guy so that I could check in from the business class line as there was a huge queue. I would have waited, but you know my friend Varun.. Phew. Made me pay 50 bucks to the guy and he escorted us to the business class line and everyone were wondering how come we alone got the check in done so easily. Poor fellows. Waiting for more...

  21. Good one. Interested to read more on this. I remember my first flight. Worrying all the way how to pay back the money my parents borrowed for the ticket.

  22. Hahahahaha...

    Yeah Abhi, who knows!! might come handy anytime ;-)

  23. Hi Gautam,

    Thanks for the comments.
    I bet, how many ever flight, train, bus , bullock cart journeys, your journeys would always be eventful for all the adventures and misadventures you end up with. :-)

    Hmm you jumped the queue by bribing someone...Hmmmm....Hmmmmm....(with a raised eyebrow)

  24. Hi Vivek,

    Thank you for the comments. Yup, will write about rest of my misadventures.

    Hope your first flight journey was uneventful

  25. I did not bribe... Varun snatched a 100 rupee note and bribed someone for me. enna koduma saravanan ithu...

  26. :-D

    But you let him snatch Gautam...:-P
    Why blame that poor chap. You let him snatch illa? Hahahahahaha

  27. Havent had my first flight exp as of now...
    waiting for ur next post so that i can watch out for these probs when i travel :)

    keep blogging :)

  28. Hi Sat_hi_sh,

    Oh, then I hope these stuff will help ya!

    Thanks for your comments :-)

  29. Reminded me of my trip. I too went for 3 months.

    Lol at the gentleman who helped!

    I was on my first trip abroad, and that too had to care for a colleague's wife and 1-2 (or 3?) year daughter (Colleague had left before me. I was delayed due to jaundice and my charges (his wife and kid) delayed due to Visa issues.

    There were some disasters on the way :). May post them sometime...maybe.

  30. Hi Stupidosaur,

    Thank you for the comments. Phew!! You had a lady and her infant to take care! :-O I can imagine your plight.

    True, disasters are part and parcel of first time voyage abroad I guess. I had lots more on my plate. Will write that up


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