Yay 2 posts a day!!!!
Warning- verbal diarrhoea ahead!
I was progressively delaying this post and it just could not have been more ill-timed because it has been nearly 4 months since I am back home and 2 pay cheques down ($$$$$ :~D ). Some of my blog friends will by now be aware of the fact that I am terribly prone to trouble in the airport and this is the mother of all such situations!!!
4 months ago, as part of finishing my exams (and I am still praying for my results and I request all of you to do the same), my dearest Chech and Chettan decided to treat me with a trip to the French Riviera and yes the place is beautiful and I would love to marry a rich old man who has a villa in Nice (but full and half monty by old uncles/aunties is NOT fun!)
After 5 days of fun in the sun and a nice tanned look (read ‘karambi’ or ‘kaliya’ for the Malayalam challenged) it was time to head back to London and after a day of packing, back to India and my lease agreement with the uni residence was terminating the day after. Ordinarily, I wud take a flight out of Amsterdam and reach London in 2 hrs after munching on the boring oatmeal cookies that British Airways provides. This time, being my last trip to Amsterdam for sometime, the ill-famed adventurous side took over and I was choosing between a train or a FERRY!!(thank god the ferry idea didn’t materialise) Now Annie McBeal saved 50pounds (eer…it was her father who actually saved the money-sorry dad) and booked tickets on the Eurostar on their summer plan, thinking she can see the deep blue English Channel ala Singapore SeaWorld style!
So journey began on a tram in Amsterdam, which Chettan and I caught after beating Usain Bolt’s Olympic record time. Hopping on the next train to Schipol was also at record time and it was the last train from Amsterdam that wud reach Brussels in time for my next train! The only time we were ever on time was to take the nice NS train to Brussels.
Sitting in NS train Chettan and I discuss on topics ranging from worldly wisdom to mallu stardom, choosing between oysters or moules for lunch and salivating at the thought of it. At Brussels Zuid- happy-thinking-about-moules me gets up to find….TADA!!
A STOLEN BAG!!... so what!!
Eer..the bag had my passport, bank cards, college id, return to London tickets, clothes, postcards from Nice, my favourite skirt, fake brasil hawaiana chappals and my pen drive with lots of fotos. So how does it feel to be in a country without your identification documents? Very nice I say- because I still had a smaller bag in which I had my camera and ipod!!...
Hey Bag-flicker-dude u attacked the WRONG bag and the passenger next to me had a laptop in his bag.
Chettan and I are among the few priviledged citizen who have seen the interiors of the Indian Embassy, Brussels. At first, they laughed when I said I lost my passport and I don’t have a fotocopy of it either…I am Ann..please believe me. Then the google search on Indian government website happens and after 15 minutes the lady came out with a paper and started asking me questions-
1) What is ur name?- Ann Mcbeal
2) Spell ur father’s name- Za…… (my father has a name that is nt easy for most non malayalee or non-westerner to pronounce)
Passing that difficult exam, I ws given a certificate saying yes I am an Indian and YES India will take me back.
I guess all of u might have experienced this- sometimes it is in the worst times that u find ur dream fantasies coming true. Now everyone is aware of my extreme respect (*ahem) for men in uniform. So when u have the hottest-policeman-i-have-seen-till-date attending to ur case, u can understand why the FIR was drafted by me was in shoddy shape. Inspectuer Nick Noël, with the biceps ripping out of his uniform (he has a proportionate body mind u!), armed with a pistol in the holster and handcuffs on his belt and to top it all- a smooth talker and a charmer and genuinely good-looking…sigh! (I wished that things would go forward like Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in Speed..but alas!
With a shoddy FIR in hand and leaving Nick Noel behind, we ran back to the embassy to be issued a passport hot from the lamination press at 1745 hrs (15 minutes before the embassy closed for the day)!....chood chood passport! All said and done, I needed to get back to the UK to pack my things and move out of Europe-but minor problem- No UK VISA!!!
For some strange reason the British peoples think that they have to sit in a secured fort-like the Tower of London in every other country and they call such forts- UK Embassy! To prevent any non-british person from seeking justice/mercy/kindness or showing anger/frustration before the embassy, it is secured by towering gates I am told. So all we can do is make a fone call on the next day –
Ann- “Hi, I am ann, I am a student in London, blah blah…bag…blah blah stolen…sniff..i need to get back to London to pack and leave London for good!..if delayed I will not have a place to stay in London ”
Embassy ‘helpline’(bull crap!) lady- “Give me your number and I will tell the embassy to get back in touch with u”
Ann- “WHAT!!!...okay thank u so much for ur help”
With no call in the next 60 minutes, came brother-in-law’s last attempt at sending me across the English Channel- We reach the Eurostar counter and the UK Immigration Border and stage our Academy Award winning performance. So moved were they by our acting that the immigration lawyer gave me a 2 month UK visa and Eurostar gave me a free ride on the ticket which expired. (The cost of the ticket was 350 pounds on the day of my travel!!!)
Soon I was on the train to London, sitting next to a political journalist writing about Communism. And then the tunnel came- time for SeaWorld-ish view. But what I saw was a dark tunnel for 20 long minutes!!! The next 16 hours were spent clearing out my bank accounts, returning library books, packing everything and moving lock, stock and barrel out of Covent Garden to Heathrow. The 17th hour I was back on the India bound flight enjoying chicken tikka.
Ab Mumbai door nahi….
Points to note:
1) Always keep fotocopies of ur travel docs in all ur bags and with some close relative and soft copies too.
2) If stolen, after getting a passport try to ask the airways if anything (other than getting a new visa) can be done when transiting through countries.
3) The Europeans are quite understanding when u have a genuine cause.
4) Nick Noel is still my fantasy man. I even tried looking up for him on facebook (sheeesh!).
5) The UK Embassy at Brussels have still not contacted me.
6) It was not nice being stuck in Belgium without a visa to go to London or closer still Amsterdam.
7) If I had taken the flight out, I would not have had this trouble but may be some other trouble.
8) During our mad running around, I cursed the bag-flicker-dude, saying may his days from now be bad- to which Chettan replied- ever since he flicked ur bag his worst days have anyway began- WHY?- the bag mostly had only soiled clothes!!!
9) Had it not been for Chettan and the his company’s Brussels team, may be by now I would have been married to a Belgian and making waffles and frites in Grote Markt for a living. Thank you all of you.
10) If anyone of u sees an Indian woman on a ‘magazine’ in any of ‘the’ shops in Brussels or Playboy (if I am lucky) please do notify me- my pen drive had a back up copy of all my fotos. [u can compare the mag cover with my pic on the side of the blog]
11) Nick Noel….sigh!