In which Aditrupz go for the Goecha la trek in Sikkim, part 1/3

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I remember quite distinctly, it was in June of 2017, I was discussing our annual vacation plans and the topic of the Goecha la trek in Sikkim came up. Adi and I had already agreed that this year the vacation was going to be in India, after last year’s Turkey trip! I was stumped when he said, ” We should go for a trek to Sikkim!”. I was in no shape physically or mentally to endure this and sleeping in tents didn’t really sound like a vacation. But he was hell-bent. The word spread and Prajwalit and Bhargava also decided to join us. I was still unsure but in about a month or so, preparations for the trek began. The boys did all the bookings and planning and I watched all the possible YouTube videos to get as familiar as possible with the trek route and trying to gauge the difficulty and what I would possibly endure.

Recommended to read: https://blawghh.com/in-which-trupz-says-travel-helps-builds-character/

What is so special about the Goecha la trek in Sikkim?

The Goecha La trek in Sikkim, India is known to be a picturesque trek through the Khangchendzonga National park.. The highlight of the trek being the grand views of Mount Kanchendzonga from Dzongri top and viewpoint 1 of the Goecha Pass. Apart from this, you get to walk in the Rhododendron forests of Phedang. The great Himalayan plains of Thansing and Lamuney. Another beautiful attraction on this trek is the Samiti lake which is a glacial lake. Let me break it here itself, the websites say Geocha La is a Moderate – Difficult level trek, for the most part, it is difficult, especially if you are going in the winter season like we did! This trek gets you closest you can to view Mount Kanchendzonga from the Indian side.

Goecha la trek in Sikkim | View of Mount Khangchendzonga en route Kokchurang

View of Mount Khangchendzonga en route Kokchurang

If you are loving the photos, you will love the video blawghh series of the  Goecha la trek in Sikkim 2017 on Youtube 

What are the essential things to pack for the Goecha la trek?

Goecha la trek Sikkim | Essential things to pack for Himalayan winter trek

Goecha la trek in Sikkim| Essential things to pack for any Himalayan winter trek

  1. Rain jacket
  2. Poncho
  3. Fleece jacket thin
  4. 2 walking sticks
  5. 1 pair of gloves
  6. 1 Balaclava, very useful in protecting ears and neck from sun and wind!
  7. 1 woolen cap
  8. 3 pairs of quick dry trekking pants (full length)
  9. 3 quick dry t-shirts (full sleeves)
  10. 1 pair of thermals
  11. Dry fruits
  12. 6 energy bars
  13. 2 rolls of tissue papers
  14. UV protected sunglasses
  15. Essential medicines
  16. 2 pairs of cotton socks
  17. 2 pairs of woolen socks
  18. 1 torch
  19. 1 headlamp ( i recommend this since it leaves your hands free for using walking sticks)
  20. 2  one liter water bottles
  21. 55-liter backpack
  22. 15-liter daypack
  23. Sunscreen, moisturizer, lip balm other toiletries
  24. Good fitting trekking shoes
  25. 1 pack of Wet wipes

There is a list compiled here by the good folks at IndiaHikes which I used as a reference packing for this trek

The idea is to travel light with basic and important necessities. Also you have to be comfortable with the fact that you may not get a chance to bathe, so carry wet wipes and use them frugally.

Goecha la trek day 0 – Pune – Delhi – Bagdogra – New Jalpaiguri

October 20th was the day, Diwali was just over and we set out for our first pitstop to New Jalpaiguri. Prajwalit, Adityo and I left from Pune to Delhi in the early hours of the morning. Bhargava would join us in Delhi from Hyderabad. He made it on time and after a quick lunch, it was time for our 2-hour flight to Bagdogra in West Bengal. Our stay for the night was in the city of New Jalpaiguri(NJP). The Kali Puja was just over, but some of the pandal decorations were still around. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore NJP and we were only there for one night. We walked around the street a bit to find some lunch. We had some “Aloo Panner” which was delicious along with some really hot chapati. Then we all napped a bit for some much-needed rest. The evening was uneventful, a small stroll down for some tea and we retired for the night. Before that, we got confirmation that the car, that was to take us to Yuksam will arrive the next day at 6.30 am.

Goecha la trek day 1 – NJP – Legship – Yuksam

Our sacks were packed up, day packs had now come out. The light cotton clothes were lined with thin fleeces. It was now time to cross over from the outskirts of West Bengal into the lush greenery of Sikkim with the Teesta river for the company for most of the way. We would be passing through the towns of Legship, Jorthang, Gyalshing. The total journey time would be about 7 – 8 hours not including breaks along the way, We had ordered some early breakfast but were surprised to find out that apart from tea not much can be available. So we decided to eat something along the way to Yuksam. The car arrived to pick us up on time, it wasn’t the most comfortable looking vehicle. It was an old jeep with no bucket seats. Assuming hilly and winding roads ahead, we all knew that it wasn’t our most preferred choice of transport but we had to make a start to the trip and getting to Yuksam was more important, so we took the risk.

New Jalpaiguri is very close to the border of West Bengal and Sikkim. We would be crossing over into Sikkim near a place called Melli. Our first halt was near Lohapul at Mama Hotel. “Luchi” which is Bengali means Puri and Aloo bhaji were devoured here, along with some yummy Aloo Parantha with pickle, and of course some much needed ‘Chai’.

Where can you have breakfast en route to Yuksam from NJP?

Breakfast at Mama Hotel, Loha Pul, Darjeeling, West Bengal 734008. Tel: 076024 36384

The happy trekkers with their tummies full, now made their way to Melli. The crossover at Melli was easy, the driver had the required papers and our backpacks did the remaining. As soon as we entered Sikkim, the landscape changed, the roads were winding and narrow with lush green forests all around. Although a very small state, it is important o know that 35% of Sikkim is covered by KhanchenDzonga National Park. Even though you are in a vehicle, you have to cross between valleys to get to Yuksam. There are single lane metal bridges that are built over the river that help you cross. The rattling of the bridge decks and the fact that you are about 500ft above a glacial river make it a very exciting drive. We could see the impact of an increase in tourism here, next to the single lane metal bridge a two-way concrete bridge is being built.

A couple of hours of driving and it was almost time for lunch. The driver recommended we should wait at Gurung, Hotel at Legship for lunch and took us to this lovely homely food place. the lady serving told us that they are serving organic food and even the chicken served there is organic! The boys continued their vegetarian streak and we got served with some piping hot dal, rice, vegetables and the red chilly pickle or the “Dalle”. The ambiance at the Gurung Hotel was homely and the food was delicious, Adityo surprised himself with the ‘Dalle” when he mistook that for a cherry tomato and attempted to eat the whole of it. We all teared up, the 3 of us thanks to how hilarious his situation was and Adityo because he seemed to have become a fire-spouting dragon!

Where can you have lunch en route to Yuksam from NJP?

Lunch at Gurung Hotel: Legship, Sikkim 737111. Tel: 081458 94311

The remaining journey was uneventful until we saw a road sign that said “Yuksam 10km”, we started making calls to Mr. Gurung who was a trek co-ordinator to locate the guest house. We had booked the Geocha la trek in Sikkim via Thrillophilia who then helped us find the Red Panda Tours and Travels, our local guides in Yuksam. Its only after reaching the village of Yuksam did we realize how big the village is! There is only 1 main road that runs through the entire village and all the hotels, homestays are all along this road. In the middle of the main road is the infamous main market area that has a couple of shops selling trekking gear and winter gear. “Gupta’s restaurant” is the most significant landmark on this road. It seems like in Yuksam, the world converges at Gupta’s. As Yuksam is the base village for many treks in this region, you get to meet and interact with a lot of other trekkers here. Also, Gupta’s serve amazing food and is open until late.

So after checking into our guest house, we made it to Gupta’s. The climate was beautiful, perfectly chilly and clean mountain air, we decided to walk around and explore the village. Our appetites were worked up so we ordered some Chowmein. We had 2 days in Yuksam, since we were informed that there will be another group of 4 people from Bangalore who would join us the next day. This meant that we could explore some more place in Yuksam.

More to come of the adventurous trek of Goecha la, which by the way has not even begun yet! In the meantime feast your eyes with some photos

What are the top 5 interesting places to visit in Yuksam?

1. Kartok Lake

Blawghh | Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Kartok lake, Yuksam

Kartok lake

2.Coronation Throne Of Norbugang

Blawghh | Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Coronation throne, Yuksam

Coronation Throne, Norbugang

3. Dubdi Monastery

Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Yuksom Dubdi Gompa
PC Kothanda SrinivasanFlickr, CC BY 2.0, Link

4. Khangchendzonga National park

Blawghh | Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Khangchendzonga National park, Yuksam

Khangchendzonga National park

5. Gupta Restaurant

Blawghh | Goecha la trek Sikkim | Gupta restaurant Yuksam

PC Nilabh Singh

Youtube | Goecha La Trek 2017 | Himalayan Trek | Video Blawghh Full HD Part 1

Youtube | Goecha La Trek 2017 | Himalayan Trek | Video Blawghh Full HD Part 2

In which trupz says Travel helps builds character

In the last decade, I have made so many friends who love to travel! Some of them travel often, some of them travel together as a couple, some solo and some travel not as frequently as they would like to. But, if there is one thing that is common among them, it is that they are ‘different’. No, they are normal human beings, but they choose to think different about LIFE and everything around them in general. This got me thinking, why? Why are they different and what makes people who travel stand out from the crowd? Eventually, I came to conclude that traveling and exploring new places helps develop your personality and adds to your character, here are some reasons why:

1. Travelling gets you to shake out of your comfort zone

Dalai Lama has said, “Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before.” Very few realize that traveling does not mean collecting travel stamps on your passport but it means to gain new experiences. There is a thrill in traveling to a new place. For me personally, right from taking the flight or train to reaching the actual place, every milestone is thrilling. Every journey has its own flavor and that’s what makes it special. When you travel to a new place, at first it is unknown, a couple of days spent in a new place and it all starts becoming familiar, the air, the surrounding, the people start feeling known and you begin to fit in. Learning to communicate with absolute strangers, walking in a lane you have never before, trying a new dish or even participating in some cultural activities in some way force you out of your comfort zone to do or try something different. You often find yourself in never before situations when you travel and that’s the true fun part.

2. Travel to learn something new

In school, I remember reading about Hsuen Tsang, a Chinese scholar who traveled extensively in India. Traveling teaches you much more than what you would learn from a classroom or your job. For some of us who are students of LIFE, traveling is our only EDUCATION. Thanks to the internet, you have all the information at your disposal. Until you don’t experience what you read first hand, you are still left wanting. Don’t get me wrong, when I say learn, I don’t only mean learn about the place, you learn more about yourself also.

There are so many beautiful places to see around the world! The ancient relics and monuments are the living remnants of history, as we know it. Travel makes you more open-minded to explore and experience new things. Learning about different cultures, food, history and the people. I’ve been amazed by some of the people I have met on my travels, their stories and the experiences they have shared have helped me realize a lot about myself.

3. Traveling is good to be able to disconnect and reflect

In our constant and relentless effort to be connected with everything and everyone, we have forgotten that we have the option to disconnect. Whether it is social media, television or other distractions, the need to know and keep up with everything is so strong that it has engulfed our personal space, time and become a routine.

Travel helps me break this routine. When I am traveling I like to imagine the world without cell phones and Internet. So my first instinct is to buy a map of the place I am going to then rely on Google maps. Traveling slows things down, giving you time for self-exploration and introspection. Travel helps to listen to your instincts and act on them. Away from crowds, familiar surroundings and away from distractions helps me put things into perspective.

Most of us living in cities are overwhelmed keeping up with the expectations of big city life! Being at 10000ft, in the cold winter of the Himalayas, having to wait for a good 30 minutes only to be able to drink a cup of warm water made me realize how taken for granted these luxuries are for us in cities. A sunset with splashing colors or viewing millions of stars under a clear sky, one realizes these are the rarities of life we have forgotten to appreciate in comparison to the man-made grandeur.

4. Traveling taught me to do the best with what I have

Even the best of plans can go awry in an instant! Traveling comes with its set of problems, missing flights, losing baggage or being lost yourself. How you handle them all while being in unprecedented territory helps you grow as a person. There is only so much one can plan and be careful about! Traveling though is not about certainty, its what you do and how you react to a given situation that differentiates a catastrophe from an adventure.

My trip to Ladakh a few years back was one such adventure where catastrophe turned into an adventure of a lifetime. The group was stuck in a village called Rumtse a few 100km before Leh. A small village, Rumtse had room for maybe 300 people, but because of a landslide, a huge part of the road was literally washed away and now close to 1000 people were stuck. We had to spend the night in someone’s kitchen. 6 people with our luggage in a room which was no more than 10ft x 10ft. Would you believe this is one the most famous travel story told and all 6 of us reminisce about the incident? That night we all learned a lot about each other, our tolerance, ability to adapt, our problem-solving skills and who snores the most :P. The positive that came out of it was that despite the slight roadblock in Rumtse, everyone wanted to carry on further to the trip and remaining 13 days were most memorable.

5. Travel and learn to manage your expectations 

Someone has said, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey!”. Each travel journey is different and extremely personal. In the very same place, on the very same path, at the same moment,  different individuals have different experiences. At times you become aware of your own strengths and capabilities, and sometimes you have to come to terms with your limitations.

So where are you planning to travel next?

Check my travel-related posts on the Travelblawghh

In which Aditrupz went to the Gliding Center at Hadapsar, Pune

Gliding center at Hadapsar, Pune

Soon after misadventures of paragliding, I was told about the Gliding Center at Hadapsar, Pune by a dear friend P. She told me you only had to go register your names there before 9 am on any Sunday and it had minimum fees for it too, only Rs. 187/- plus taxes.

This was super exciting, the Gliding center at Hadapsar was so close to home and the costs were so cheap that the following weekend itself, on 6th March we decided to go. Left from home packed with all anti sun gear and lots of water and fruits, we reached the Gliding center at Hadapsar at around 9.00 am. The sign in register already had 18 names before us and we were numbers 19 and 20. In the hangar, we saw the glider planes parked. They were 6 in number, as usual, the counting in my head began, I assumed that if all 6 were out, we would be in the 3rd round of flights that will happen. Much to my amazement, although “Strictly No Photography here” signs were all over the place, careless onlookers went all out with their cams, I did not, at least not within the hangar. Around 10.30 am we were asked to move towards the airfield while planes were getting ready. It is a huge task to move the gliders from the hangar to the take-off zone. The glider is trolleyed behind a van while someone has to walk the length of the road holding up one wing.

How do the gliders at the gliding center at Hadapsar operate?

Gliding is a wind dependent activity, it is absolutely necessary that wind is in the opposite direction of the take-off. These gliders are all motor-less and flown with help of a winch, the winch is connected to the nose of the glider and long rope connects it to a vehicle like a jeep etc which a few hundred MTS away. The vehicle pulls the winch rope and launches the glider skyward.

Readying for Take off

 

Take Off

The pilot’s capabilities of managing this machine in the air are put to test when the wench disengages and glider goes into a free fall for 3 – 4 seconds, it is most awesome feeling you get, till you are back to normal again. The gliders are only 2 seaters, for obvious reasons the controls for the co – flier i.e I in this case are removed. After we settled into the skies, there was no sound of the motor and a pristine silence which echoed inside the planes pit. As land below began to fly by, I could actually gauge the speed at which we were going, it was quite a pleasant ride. It’s a different flying experience when you can see the ground, the one man space inside the plane is hardly a comfort zone and more like free flying. Ariel view of Pune was extravagant. The landscape marked with buildings with Sahyadris completing the backdrop.

Ariel view - Pune city

Ariel view – Pune city, Hadapsar, Magarpatta locality

 

Inside the Glider

What to expect at the Gliding center at Hadapsar

My Joy ride lasted about 7 – 10 minutes. The landing was bumpy but smooth and for the first time I realized the meaning of the phrase “Brace Yourself” – the descend was super and for me the highlight of the entire experience. There is a real skill in maneuvering these planes since they are all on manual control. No fancy gadgets to guide you around and the pilot cannot put this machine into Auto mode. Being able to read the controls, familiarize yourself with geographical conditions and identifying landscapes are critical for being safe Up in the Air. On the whole a super experience and worth every bit of waiting in sun and praying for wind God’s to make this happen.

Gliding center at Hadapsar: Google Map location

Travel Blawghhing – Nainital,city of lakes

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The first trip of the Blawghhers together in India. And we chose the most secluded stretch of India to travel to – Nainital, Ranikhet, Almora, and Kausani in Uttaranchal. This one particularly not frequented by many tourists – at least that is what we were told but in India, it is hardly possible now to go anywhere and not find crowds.

But since the idea was to travel and explore on our own, the trip was charted as per the destinations we wished to visit and stay at as per our convenience. We refused to be lobbied around in buses / private vehicles as other “honey – mooners” with the days and nights planned much beforehand and strictly followed :).

In the adjoining picture what you see are the most pristine waters of Uttaranchal – the Saat Tal lake made up of literally 7 lakes intertwined.

The seven Lakes Of Sattal are
Panna Tal or Garud Tal
Nal-Damyanti Tal
Purna Tal
Sita Tal
Ram Tal
Laxman Tal
Sukha Tal or Khurdariya Tal

Breathtaking scenery and snake pass roads makes for a pleasant journey but not so delightful for those with a light stomach 🙂

The typical dhabas serving rajma, parathas and dal fry rice are some of the places which are a must visit for those who want to eat some local cuisine. Of course, the 3,4 and 5-star hotels have infiltrated the region and for ones particular about diet and food there are various multi-cuisine diners available.

With the well spent 14 days, we also managed to make it to the Jim Corbett National Park, only for a day though.

More travel stories coming soon…

Some more pics

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In which trupz writes her favorite travel anecdote

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Any journey is incomplete without its share of travel anecdote. Everyone loves and lives to tell their travel story no matter where you go, we do it at TravelBlawghh! There is something memorable that happens to everyone on their journey’s, that’s what makes remembering these anecdotes so much fun. It could be that you forgot to put locks on your check-in bags or you lost your luggage, missed your flight or for that matter, you even forgot your tickets at home and if you want to top that imagine if you ‘Lost the Passport’ in a foreign country.

 

I for one am proud to say that I have been through all of these, not all at the same time of course but every trip is full of stories that I would love to share here.

 

If you love reading about travel and travel stories, click here for some more!

 

These are not listed in chronological order but rather see the severity of the situation and the aftermath, its actually hard to tell which is my most favorite.

Travel anecdote 1: I forgot to lock my bags when flying to Sheffield

It was my first ever international trip – let alone that – it was the first time I was to step on any plane for that matter. Anyhoo bubbling with all excitement I reached the airport said my long goodbyes to everyone – naturally I was to go for a year and a half for my higher studies to Sheffield, United Kingdom. I was so sure and confident that everything is under control I walked to the desk, showed my ticket and put my bags on the weighing machine – 63 kgs exactly, well under the allowed weight of 64 kgs for students traveling. Whoosh! I saw each of the bags drawn over the conveyor belt to accompany me on my flight. Proudly I collected my boarding pass and walked away to my next check post only to realize that the little locks that should have been on the bags that I just checked in are still in my pockets. DAMN!! No need to elaborate what happened ahead, it was a flight full of fear and anxiety and excitement! big butterflies in my stomach that were packed like a bomb about to blow off. Luckily when I got my bags all safe and sound at the Manchester airport, it felt like my plane had landed safe.

 

 

Travel anecdote 2: Vandana left her flight tickets at home when traveling to Denmark

In January 2004 my sister in law Vandana was to travel to Denmark for 2 months for training through her office. She was a complete wreck as this travel plan was told to her only a week in advance. As a result, there was not much time to pack etc. She was also the first of my clan to partake an “abroad trip”. We were quite clueless as to what could be in store, but everyone was keeping it together as much as they could. Her parents, my brother, and mum were to drop her off at the airport. Much to my dismay, I had my exams next day and as much as I love to go to airports, I had to opt out and stay at home instead. An hour and a half later I received a frantic call from my brother. I could make out there was someone yelling in the background, it was my mum! Not quite sure what is happening I was trying hard to focus on what he was saying and picked up a few keywords. ‘Vandana’, ‘tickets’, ‘at home’. My face ran pale as I sprung from my seat when it actually dawned on me what had happened. The lass had left without her tickets. I turned the whole house upside down looking for them; finally to find them nicely tucked away in an envelope on the bed. I wasn’t sure how it would be of any help me finding the tickets, the flight was to leave in 2 hours and there was no way I could make it there on my own in the middle of the night. While I was trying to make any sense of this the doorbell rang. I saw through the peep my neighbor, Prakash Gopalan. He knew what was going on and was ready on his Activa to drive me to the airport. Armed with our helmets and not ascertaining entirely how cold it would be outside, we drove. We made it from Vashi to the Sahar airport Terminal 2 in 45 minutes, I was sure it was a record of sorts! I handed over the tickets and there were laughs and tears as we bid goodbye to Vandana. I  was just happy to be at the airport. Another point to be noted during your travels, check, double check, triple check all your documents! againnnnnnn! Ohh and by the way, my exams were awesome.

 

 

Travel anecdote 3: I lost my luggage on the way to Brisbane 

Off to trip to Ozzie land, in December 2007, I was flying to the Nielsen office in Brisbane. On the day my transit flight to Kuala Lumpur was delayed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus by 2 hours. I was flying Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur and then it was Qantas to Brisbane via Sydney. It was a bit of a trepid plan but when office books your tickets there is little you can control. The delay even before my trip started was making me a little panicky. The delay in Mumbai meant that there was a good chance I would miss my onward flight to Brisbane. Several inquiries and assurances later the Malaysian Airline staff confirmed that arrangements for all transit passengers would be made. Two hours later we took off and another two and a half hours later I landed in Kuala Lumpur. I was busy looking at my watch as we landed since it was just the time when my flight to Brisbane was to take off. There were other panicked passengers like me for the same flight en route Brisbane and I was happy to let them do all inquiries and blow off some steam on the crew as I eagerly awaited to be on land. As logic would have it, I could not do much while in the air. The Malaysian airline staff was well prepared, as soon as we landed, all passengers who were to board the flight to Brisbane were allowed to deboard the plane first. I remember I was rushed off directly from the runway to the waiting aircraft, it all happened so fast that it felt like I was on the ground only for a few seconds. It was being on a swing I was airborne a few seconds before only to be airborne again. I didn’t even have a chance to inform anyone back at home that I had made it to my next flight. Happy with myself, I slipped into a deep slumber as we flew over the Pacific Ocean. It was a long haul flight from Kuala Lumpur and I slept like a baby only to wake up as we were descending to land at Brisbane airport. I had slept through the stopover at Sydney and was not very happy with myself since I had missed the views of Opera House and Great Barrier reef. All said and done, it was still an adventurous flight and ended up chatting with my co-passenger Anna, who had similarly swung over like me into this Qantas flight at Kuala Lumpur. Anna was an elderly Australian lady who was amazed that I was so young and traveling for a meeting to Australia and she ended up telling me all about her solo travel in India and the fact that she loves coming back again and again to India

 

I said goodbye and exchanged emails with Anna and waited for my luggage. I had a weird feeling that something was wrong. And it was indeed, the adventure wasn’t over yet. My bag that was checked in had not arrived at Brisbane. We were informed that they were still stuck at Kuala Lumpur. It turns out that Malaysian Airlines only had the time to have me swung away to the Qantas flight, unfortunately, the bags could not be. It would take 2 more days for the airlines to have the bag sent directly to my hotel. Of course, I was handsomely compensated for the grievance by the Qantas airlines. I didn’t have much to complain as all my essentials were with me just my formal clothes missing. It was still a Sunday when I landed and my attire at the airport was still good enough to help me camouflage without smelling too bad. The compensation was more than enough to help me shop! In spite of everything else what a great start to the trip – landed in Australia and the first thing that I do is go shopping.

 

Travel anecdote 4: I missed my flight to London 

Just as I was thinking that I have become a pro at globe-trotting another disaster struck. June 2008 I was traveling to London, United Kingdom for a full paid office sponsored conference. I did the regular check the night before, my flight was on time so I did a web check-in, a window seat as usual. Packed well in advance I drove to the airport with my father-in-law since Adi was in Goa with his office guys. En route the airport, I don’t know why but I made a call to the Airline to check the flight status. The answer I received from the customer service representative at the other end left me speechless. I could feel the sweat balls become bigger on my forehead. The departure time for my flight read 0130 hours and I had literally translated that to 1.30 PM in the afternoon. What the customer service lady on the line was informing me was that I had already missed my flight! Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I informed everyone of the mishap. My father-in-law insisted that I should still go to the airport and check. Making desperate calls to the travel desk and customer service I was a nervous freak when I reached the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. On reaching I went in straight to the Airline counter who very patiently heard my situation. I informed them there is no way I could cancel this trip. It was an official conference,  the booking for the conference and the hotel etc had been done in advance and there was also no way I could cough up money to buy a new flight ticket on my own. The airline guys first gave me some water and then said they could put me on another flight that was to leave in an hour if I had my bags ready. I only had to pay some ‘no show’ charges for missing the earlier flight.

 

If you think miracles do not happen, change your opinion now. There was nothing else that could have made me happier, fearing the worst I had already typed my resignation letter in my head. I ran out with new found legs and picked my bags from the car and was soon aboard my missed flight!

 

An important lesson learned is to never back away from adversity, there is always a way out, I would have been in more trouble if I had decided not to go to the airport. Needless to say, the conference was a great success.

 

 

Travel anecdote 5: I lost my passport traveling to London

This is my favorite travel anecdote and was an unbelievable event. It happened in 2006, I don’t know now if people are as helpful or tolerable but I actually laughed my way out of it. So while studying at the University of Sheffield for our Master’s, Adi and I were down for a small vacation in India. On my flight back to London my passport fell off my lap in the airplane. I only realised this when I had to present it at the immigration counter. I checked my bags inside out and traced my way back to the security gates near the boarding deck. I was almost embarrassed when I told the officer there that I want to go back on the flight. Very surprisingly he quipped, “Don’t you like London!!” I explained what had happened and was amazed when expression did not change. All he said was “Are you sure?”, and all I could say was “Positive”. Adi was sure I was going to be deported back to India. However, the officer took me along some doors that read “Officers Only” marked in big bold red lettering and I found myself in the security zone. He made a few calls on his walky-talky and made me go through the Metal Detector gate and frisked my bag and asked me to take off my shoes and then through another door and I was in the lounge where all Airlines had their desks. Suddenly I realized that internally the airport is a small managing unit just feels much spaced out when you have to walk around all the way. Anyhoo I ran all the way to Airline desk where there was Q. Mustering up all my courage and convincing myself that this was an Emergency situation I skipped ahead of the Q. Thanks to all people ever so considerate who read the panic on my face.

 

As I approached the lady at the desk she told me to hold on for a minute. She picked up her mike and on the Public Address System I heard, “Attention all passengers just arrived by the *** Airways Flight ** ***, Miss Trupti Mulajkar, could you please approach the closest airline counter’, this was repeated thrice. Not sure how but involuntarily I squeaked, ‘That’s me!’ and she still continued to complete the announcement. When I finally went close to her, I saw the look on her face just like my mother’s and felt that a hard smack was on its way to my cheek. Luckily she just smiled and handed my passport saying, “You should be more careful with these things”.

 

I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and thanked the security officer for helping me out. He said he was glad I can see London now and didn’t have to go back. Of course, I could see the sarcasm. If I would not have found my passport then we would both be traveling back home on separate flights!!!.
Every picture has a memory associated with it, mine has some life-altering travel anecdotes. They are funny even after so many years. I do realize they would have been different if all would not have turned out to be fine. But you know what they say “In the end everything is ALRIGHT – if it is not alright then it is not the END”.

 

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