Coming from a close-knit and traditional family, I have never really had the experience of travelling alone. I used to often wonder; what it would be like to travel alone. Various elements of fear that usually lone travelers especially girls experience like staying alone in a hotel at an unknown place, the jitters, the uneasiness and most importantly being responsible, was alien to me. Thanks to my travel sickness, I used to refrain from travelling therefore going to far-off places alone was out of question.
Therefore, one day I guess God decided to put me through this nerve wrecking experience. One day, my boss suddenly exclaims ‘Naina, there is one project for which I would like you to travel to London’. Totally stumped and rooted to the ground, I said ‘Yes, thank you for the opportunity’. Little did he know that at precisely that very moment my head had started spinning, I felt like puking, the rug under my feet was been dragged and I experienced the feeling of falling in space. It took me two days to sink this message in. Finally, had all the formalities completed and was off to fly to London on 5th September 2009. I was flying Kingfisher, 1.30 p.m. flight and had to report at 10.30 a.m. at the airport. On 5th in the morning, I made sure that I recorded few vides on my cell phone, first the good mornings from my family then the good nights. I wanted to have my family with me every single day during my stay. Then we drove to the airport, after all the byes and hugs when it was time to enter the airport, I could hear my heart pounding…real hard. I told myself its show-time gurl.
I had lotsa time on hand therefore decided to eat something and have some coffee. When it was time to board the plane, I restored my confidence and told myself that I could do it. Hoping that I get a good companion, atleast a good-looking guy, sitting next me, I eagerly got my window seat and made myself comfortable. To my dismay, there is this dirty looking, pan eating Gujju bhai from Amdavad (Ahmedabad) sitting next to me. I decided to ignore him and began watching movies and listening to music. Had my stomach jitters when the aircraft took-off but the rest was ok. Now my friendly neighbor also turned out to be a copy cat. After every request I make to the hostess, this guy would say ‘Same’ which means please offer me the same. I was in splits when I ordered for non-vegetarian food and he said ‘Same’. When I told him that he would be served non-veg, he said I know and told me to tell her that he wanted ‘veg’. Jerk!. Believe me it was so irritating at first but then I realized that this was his first time as well, worst he must have never travelled by air till then. However, the ordeal continued for the next 10 hours or so. He also bored me with his stories and I kept giving him courtesy smiles not to sound rude. My travel expectations were high. I thought of enjoying the view of the landscape during the day, but to my dismay my seat was just above the left wing, so could only part-see the landscape. The most frightful experience was when we experienced turbulence while flying over Brussels. I prayed, ‘God please save me, I don’t want my family to get me in a paper bag, please o please’. Thankfully nothing drastic happened and we were safe. When we were approaching London, we were asked to fill some forms and then my friendly neighbor asked me to fill up his form and told me to help him at the immigration counter (Yeah right).
After watching 4 movies, 3 sitcoms back to back for 15 hours in an A/C environment, my body was stiff and sore. I dreaded to walk since my feet were numb. Managed to get on to my feet though and walked toward the exit. Thankfully, the landing was smooth at Heathrow. As I was moving toward the immigration counter, I realized that my Amdavadi friend is following me throughout (till then I did not know what it meant like to be stalked). It was frightening. I simply wanted to run away but I managed to evade him and reached the immigration counter safe and sound. The British gentleman at the counter was sweet and on seeing my papers he smiled at me, gave a pleasant gesture, stamped my passport and said, ‘Have a pleasant stay Madam’. Wow it felt so good. I was finally in London.