A lot of antecedents went by into making this day, but I will write a separate blog for that drama later on. So, it all starts on 18 September 2009.
I had booked my tickets for 2:00am 19 September 2009 on British Airways. I was very proud that I booked that particular flight because it was one of the cheapest and the fact that arrival in Glasgow was scheduled at 11:00am local time (GMT). That means I would have no trouble imbuing the alien land during bright sunlight!
Whew!! so there it was - 7:00am 18 September - New Delhi Railway Station : Me and my parents got down the train - back from a wee one-day "important" trip to Allahabad. I was soaking in the warm Indian morning for the last time - trying to save the memory - to relish it later sometime in the faraway land. We were walking out of the railway station - then I realized i should switch off the recording in my memory for sometime - autowallahs and taxiwallahs swarm around us, each trying to get us into their taxi or auto, haggling, bickering amongst themselves, following us like a swarm of bees do not leave a prey - we keep walking silently, trying to ignore them - sigh, i swear under my breath - so much to ruin a perfect morning.
We walk towards the prepaid taxi stand and my father gets the ticket while me and my mother guard our luggage - tired and feeling sloppy not having brushed and having been circumvented by the drivers for quite sometime. We breath peace when our father gets us our taxi and we leave for uncle's home. We reach home fast - not having had to face traffic in the morning. We get fresh, my father goes to have a nap, but my mother and me have some unfinished job to do - "Shopping". Yeah!! it sounds exciting - but it was not anymore for me nor my mother! Having to shop anything you want is fun, but having to shop so that everything will fit into two 23kg bags was a challenging task.
Me and my mother went out shopping after an early lunch. We bought "only the necessary" stuff. We came back tired in the evening - we could not rest yet! Yes! we had to pack them! and I had too many things I did not think all would fit into the bags! OMG - it was really NOT exciting - it was to an extent, frustrating - especially when there were kids around trying to pull out things you just packed neatly and trying to mess with the neatly folded stack of clothes!! I was not excited at all, and I could not be happy nor sad about leaving the country - packing was eating me! Whew! by 8:00pm, packing was complete - had to keep back some of my favourite things, but I did not care - packing was complete - the burden was off!!! But lo - we had to weigh the bags now - sigh ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We weighed the bags, left more favourite things, shifted things from one bag to the other, added in more things - tada - finally all my bags were packed and ready to go!! It was 9:00pm and I was to leave for the airport at 10:00pm. I had to have the last dinner with my family before I see them again. I had been too busy packing - I just did not realize what I was going to miss. There was no time for a quiet family dinner - everything had to be fast! I gobbled up the fish curry my mother had made with love, swallowing my tears silently with every bite. I would miss everyone so much. I hurried over my dinner and ran back to my room to get ready.
It was 10:00pm and my uncle was loading my bags into his car. I was ticking off my wee checklist - my passport - check, documents - check, mobile phone - o wait! I had a mobile phone but I decided to leave the sim behind, so I had a lifeless mobile phone with me - check, cash - ya hang on! I had this terrific plan - get pounds in return for rupees at the airport itself - of course after being advised that exchange rates at airports do not really differ from other agencies - ok so, some INR - check!
Now I was starting to feel little pangs in my heart - but I was cushioned by a lot of things. First of all - I had left my hometown a week earlier - I did not feel the pang at that time because I was to stay in Delhi to meet my brother and sister for a week and shop and my parents were coming with me! Second - Delhi is not really my hometown, and I have not spent significant time there - so I was not very attached with the place. Third - I did not get enough time to realize that I was leaving my family for at least another year!! So at this last hour, I was feeling the pain - as I say goodbye to my aunt and her two little kids, I hop on to my uncle's car with my parents and my brother - I was missing my darling sister - she was in school and was in the middle of exams - sigh - i wished she could be there to see me off.
I was very silent the whole time in the car - as I was getting choked up from swallowing my tears. Everybody was silent - I guessed my parents were choking up too. My brother had fallen asleep - my busy architect brother - tired from all his drawing assignments. My uncle was talking to me, trying to cheer me up, cracking jokes. It was in all - a silent trip to the airport.
The boards read Indira Gandhi International Airport - we were there - it was my first time at IGI, the first time for anyone in my family, except for my uncle who had recently been to Bangkok. My gate and terminal was there - my mother woke my brother - we disembarked the car. My uncle had decided not to park the car - but to take the car for one trip around the airport while my parents and brother bid me goodbye. My brother and my father unloaded my bags and my uncle drove away. I was around the terminal looking for my new friend, with whom I had booked my tickets together. She found me! - we had never met each other in person - had talked a couple of times on phone - she seemed nice - I was relieved. She went back to her family to say goodbye, I was with mine. My parents were the saddest looking people in the entire airport - I tried not to cry and cheer them up before I go - I tried cracking some jokes and tried to look cheerful all the time. Time was up and I had to get in for check-in. I hugged all of them and briskly walked in, pushing my trolley. My friend followed me. I tried to go as far as I could before I could turn back and see them - I did not want to see them sad - finally I had the courage to look back - they were far - I assumed they were smiling and I smiled to myself. I would not see them again for at least a year.
............................. more in the next post.