Saturday, September 19, 2009

Landing In Nepal

I had met Zuze maybe three times before this trip. There are no actual names in this story- my friends don’t seem to care about the real stuff. So, as I was saying, it was Zuze’s wedding we were all attending in Nepal. He was marrying his childhood sweetheart- whose name evades me right now. The wedding was to be in Kathmandu- a three day event, after which some of us were going to go exploring other parts of the country for a week.

There were many people flying down from many places for this wedding- Calcutta, Assam, Bombay, Bangalore and Chennai to be precise. Everyone in their late 20s mostly, some married, some not. And everyone knew everyone else- besides me. I was the new entry. We were seven of us flying down from Bombay. We met at the airport and took our connecting flight to Delhi.

Delhi airport. Had a layover of about three hours. Time to kill and what better way to do that than to stuff our faces with food.

One hour later. The announcement. Over the airport intercom.

“An unidentified blue bag has been found near the Subway counter. Could the owner please come collect it.” Heads whip up, Tuktuk and I are scrambling to the counter, and in Mission Impossible fashion I land knees first in front of my bag.

Tuktuk, the beautiful boy of our group, who had courteously offered to carry one of my bags happened to leave it for over half an hour unattended, outside the Subway counter while we munched on our food in the waiting room, blissfully unaware of the missing luggage. That’s till the blasted announcement.

“You idiot! You left my bag here!” While I’m on the floor, busy spewing expletives at the beautiful boy, three suspiciously official looking men surround us. They might have waited a while, hoping for some acknowledgement of their presence. I gave none because I seemed to think it was imperative I shower all my attention on the beautiful boy.

“Uh-mm! Madam, bag me kya hai?”

Now I look up, taking in their batons, their rifles and their badges, in that order. I stammer that it just has clothes, nothing else. They didn’t seem to give two hoots about my pretty-girl-in-distress look.

“Madam, bag ko kholo.”

“Because of you, they think I have a bomb in the bag!” My voice rings loud and clear, I turn to Tuktuk and I see the boy prancing like a young gazelle.

“Don’t say bomb, don’t say bomb!” he wails.

A few feet away, the remaining five of our traveling party seemed to be having a whale of a time, cokes in hand. I was given to understand later that a boy doing the fire dance around a squatting, screaming woman with her head in her bag isn’t an everyday phenomenon at the airport. We seem to have hiked sales that day at the Subway station.

Coming back to the story, it turns out the official looking men were official men. They saw skirts and spaghetti tops spilling out of the bag, realized that we were indeed two stupid commuters wasting their time and they sent us on our way, terse warning in toe.

All well that ends well, they say. Despite the bomb scare, the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. I had only two pieces of hand luggage and I hung on to them for dear life till the airhostess kindly, yet firmly took them from me and deposited them in the overhead bin. We made it to Kathmandu after a five hour journey from Delhi, I got my bags out and then had my laugh for the day because no international journey could be complete without bags being lost in transit. Only this time, it was the checked-in baggage of every passenger on our flight.

There was nothing else we could do. We were asked to come back the next day, and hopefully the airport authorities would have located the missing bags by then. By the time we got out of the airport and made it to our hotel, it had been three hours since we had landed. An evening meal and cold shower later, we found ourselves on the terrace of our hotel, taking in the sight of Kathmandu for the first time without any distraction, barring the beers that were yet to be opened.

We had finally landed in Nepal.