As I walked across the tarmac to the terminal building, I clutched my briefcase a little tighter. Visions of Nepali jails flashed before my eyes in a strange collection of images from various Hollywood movies. All too soon, I was facing a customs officer.
Pleading no knowledge of the specific clauses of the Indo-Nepal treaty was like pleading before a deaf adder. He was adamant that he was going to deport me back to India on the first flight and he didn’t care if it went to Delhi or Calcutta. My whining went up a few notches and then 30 seconds later he snapped.
“Ok – step aside over there and wait for my manager. He’ll want to speak with you.”
And suddenly I discovered that I was waiting in a group of 5 or 6 men. My confidence level went up about 20%, my heart rate dropped by a few 1000 beats per minute and my heart slowly sank from the vicinity of my incisors back into the chest where it belonged.
15 minutes later the group of us mobbed the manager, all whining, pleading and explaining at the same time. He obviously could not really have understood a word of what anyone of us said, but 2 minutes later we were all through, rushing into the baggage claim area. I sped through making sure to pick up my suitcase and leave before he changed his mind.
I stepped out into the reception area where all the people who had come to receive their loved ones and business associates waited, some eager, some bored. The latter were all holding up signs with the travelers name on them and I scanned these looking for “S… Tobacco” & <my name> on it.
<the & is an operator that concatenates string values – Tech Tip>
Five minutes of scanning from left to right alternating with right to left later, it became apparent there was no one there waiting for me. I put it down to a general delay and decided to move aside and wait patiently. Whoever it was who was supposed to pick me up was late.
They also, presumably, carried with them details of my hotel reservation and my tickets for my flight the next day to Simra. The crowds slowly dissipated and a slow realization started dawning on me that maybe, just maybe, I’d have to start making inquiries of someone soon. I waited 30 more minutes, a lonely, forlorn figure, my suitcase at my feet and my briefcase in my hand, willing the laggardly receiver into action, hoping to see someone come rushing into the terminal building in a flood of apologies, babbling about car breakdowns.
It was now well over 90 minutes since my flight had landed. My dream of a fat business contract lay crushed beneath the weight of the fact that I was all alone in Kathmandu, Nepal. I had no place to stay. I didn’t know a soul. I had no ID. I could not have proved to anyone who I was. Was I doomed to forever live under the shadow of the Tribhuvan International Aiport in Kathmandu, Nepal? Would my Beloved Bangalan have to launch an epic journey of love to rescue me?
Find out when Part 4 comes out soon at a blog near you.