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My Travel Stories: Missing Suitcases, Lost Credit Cards And Encounters With Angry Security!

I am a seasoned air-traveller, and this is my trunkful of colourful travel stories--of missing passports, luggage, flights and what not!

I am a seasoned air-traveller and this is my trunkful of colourful travel stories–of missing passports, luggage, flights and what not!

Just two years back I was amassing airline miles and loyalty points in thousands and now am wallowing in travel nostalgia! It is human nature to crave what is banned, what is prohibited and labelled as taboo.

Have you noticed how you remember those lost-our-way, flat-tyre memories more than the run-of-the-mill, uneventful itinerary? They make for great party stories!

I yearn for all things travel but what I truly miss is the buzz of the airports

Google Photos is not helping matters much – spews out pics from the depths of memory lane (and reminds how slim you were, before the lockdown-heaviness set in!).  Here’s one – In Kodaikanal , with the entire family eating giant cotton candies. There’s one more – swaddled in layers of wool and touching the tip of the Eiffel tower with your fingertips.  Sigh!

Don’t even get me started on the food expedition pictures that Facebook’s long-term memory throws up: This-day-that-year kinds! One morning I woke up to a memory picture from a visit at the famous Thindi Beedhi (Food Street) in Bangalore.

A sea of humanity behind us and around us, chomping down Ghee masala dosas and Chole Bature. And the voice in my head was screaming, “Why is nobody wearing a mask?”

I yearn for all things travel – tourist must-see checklists, the ridiculously expensive joy rides in theme parks, street shopping and haggling to hoard more of unwanted junk from Bali and Bangkok – but what I truly miss is the buzz of the airports.

Airports are a world unto themselves. Don’t believe me? Watch the movie “Terminal”. I miss the sharp purposeful strides on work travel that my employer paid for, the Deepika Padukone inspired airport-looks I could sport and fashionable best-seller books I could carry with a bookmark strategically placed 3/4th of the way!

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What I do not miss are security checks. It is a lot of anxious moments till I know I indeed do not carry any contraband items in my bag!

I vividly remember the excitement of taking the 2nd flight out of the swanky new Bangalore International airport to Trivandrum. I cannot recall much of the trip to Trivandrum though!

I ran with my bags like Shah Rukh Khan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham!

You can respectably pass off as a travel-lover when you have been stranded for hours in an airport or had your name announced for final call for boarding at least once!

I was sitting in the Dubai lounge, waiting for the announcement. Only to realize everything was awfully quiet about 45 mins before take-off time. The lounge attendant helpfully mentioned that it was the first day of Dubai Airport going no-flight-announcements to reduce noise-pollution!

I ran with my bags like Shah Rukh Khan does in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. I see my gate 100 yards away, the terminal screen flashing “final call” and as I sprint across the last 50 yards waving frantically, the ground staff closed the gate! I wish Dubai airport announced one last time that they will not make any more announcements!

My travel stories have its share of lost-and-never-found tales too!

My credit card vanished “poof” after I swiped it at a US airport to pull out the luggage trolley cart!  Losing a credit card is a tricky situation – you need to know what to do after that.  You must scour for the support desk number, ask them to block the card and even worse: make arrangements for the rest of the trip!

Paris was even more notorious.  Getting out of a crowded train at the maddening Gare Du Nord station, I realized that my mobile was missing from my jacket pocket. I froze imagining my handbag with the wallet and passport would have been flicked too. I had no wish to go in search of the Indian Embassy in Paris!

Once I gathered my bearings, reaching my hotel without Google maps and with my non-existent French skills was a clear sign of the dependency we have developed on the mobile phone.  For the rest of my stay in Paris I was handicapped without the mobile – from booking a taxi to setting an alarm to wake up.

Not all of my travel stories were bleak!  Flying out of Casablanca airport, I remembered I left my mobile on charge at the gate. Thankfully before take-off, the nice crew called the gate, they got me on a crew vehicle to identify it and brought me back to the flight.

What’s more, they thanked me profusely for remembering it, else it would have been a security nightmare for them to handle an unclaimed mobile phone in the airport! I was more impressed with the Casablanca airport than I was with the movie-fame Rick’s Café (underwhelming!)

Back in Bangalore airport, once landing in the middle of the night, I dragged my (or what I thought was mine!) purple trolley bag from the baggage belt.  Next day morning I was fumbling with the outer compartment for my toiletry kit and realized the mix-up!

The baggage sticker had a long name like mine and without my glasses this was the best I could do. I rest my case(!) your honour.

Encounters with the angry security!

Encounters with the security personnel are for the advanced globetrotting traveller. After a security check inside the curtain-closed room, the woman officer came running behind me.

Turns out I had taken her security seal along with my boarding pass! She gave me a look that clearly read you-are-so-hopeless-i-could-send-you-to-jail-right-now.

I sheepishly grinned and handed over the seal to her. Later I was told that it is an offense to take the seal. It is obviously a highly restricted item that is given only to the duty officers under a strict procedure!

15 seconds of air-travel fame

It is an out-of-body experience to hear your name being announced in the airport. After a tiring business day, me and two other colleagues sat silently waiting right in front of the boarding gate.

We promptly dozed off and woke up with a jolt hearing all three of our names being called out for final call to board!  We basked in the glory of 15 seconds of fame to our names and reluctantly proceeded to board.  Let me give you a tip when you are the “final call” passenger entering the flight. Don’t make eye contact with the flight full of angry passengers waiting for your arrival!

Here I am, going over these airport anecdotes and chuckling to myself. There is a glimmer of hope as airports open with caution during the pandemic.  I cannot wait to add few more to my repertoire of stories – masks and face shields in tow. A thrilling turbulence and a nail-biting (safe!) landing might not be bad at all!

Image source: Still from the movie Cocktail 

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About the Author

Parvathi Viswanathan

Parvathi Viswanathan is a seasoned business leader with more than 25 years of impactful presence in the Indian IT industry. She has had significant stints as Vice President leading Financial Services Market Units at Capgemini read more...

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