Travel Writing: Day 1 (Still At the Airport)

I will basically talk about the worst best day of 2015.

I love adventures. I love traveling. What me and other soulful people like most is a twisted combination of the two together.

In the past 21 years or so of my life I have loved the idea of traveling. What I’ve loved even more is the idea of traveling alone – something I didn’t get to do until this very day. I have marked January 7th as the day traveling met adventure. Sort of and not really – you’ll soon know why.

After weeks of being impatiently excited about my upcoming holiday, the day of my final final arrived. Finally! The plan was to take a flight from Jeddah, my hometown, to Delhi via Dammam. Pretty awesome considering I’d be all on my own. This was perhaps the central reason for my increased state of buoyancy the closer I reached to the end of the finals.

My flight was booked for super duper early morning of 7th January. On 6th I was asked to represent the student community of my University for a meet regarding US-Arab Relations. I met some pretty cool people who shared similar interests and whose intellect presented the opportunity for positive and constructive cultural dialogue. Next step: go home and pack like a squirrel on LSD. (Think in terms of speed.)

I packed, rested for a little bit due owing to a tummy ailment, and eventually got into the car around 1:45 AM with my brother. We had talks about interesting things on the way – but it was mostly chattering away about things I’d been thinking lately and that was my way of bidding farewell. I was suddenly put in a position where I was the one going somewhere and not my siblings.

Things went on smoothly until it was time for hand baggage checking. I consider this event the schism that unraveled the (ongoing) adventure. The security men, who spoke very broken English, spent nearly 10 minutes trying to figure out what item in my backpack triggered the security alarm. I always knew my love for London would get me in trouble one day – turns out it was my *clearly* innocent Big Ben metal key chain (Thank you Abrar, my dear friend, for the lovely present.)

Things pretty much went downhill from there. I walked into Virgin’s tiny outlet at the Departure Lounge and found, to my utter dismay, only 8 books in the English language. 6 were YA which I’ve continually refused to touch. The other two were Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and HWJN by Ibrahim Abbas, co-author Yasser Bahjatt. The first looked promising based on my quick reading of the first couple of pages, and the second I bought because it is based in our city of Jeddah and is a story narrated by a djinn. Pretty interesting and assumed to be spooky and awesome (according to my Arab friends at Uni whom I trust).

The ugly part comes next, actually. I purchased the worst Hot Chocolate (from Costa Café) in the history of me purchasing hot chocolates. In fact, I’d made remarkably better ones in the week leading to this day. I ended up drowning two packs of brown sugar to sweeten it up and then I waited for it to cool down so I could drink it in one go (sort of).

At this point I had 2.5 hours left for my boarding. I spent it reading the books I had with me, speaking to my bestfriend on Whatsapp, and avoiding people staring at me. Regardless, the airport lounge was pleasantly scarce in terms of humans (a quality that changed drastically in the next few hours). As the supposed time for my boarding approached, I felt something was amiss. (The past couple of hours might have encouraged my negative instincts.) My flight was delayed due to weather conditions. So at 5 AM, when I was meant to be heading for the sky, I sat at a table staring at a bird trapped inside the building (no made up metaphors, this actually happened – my life is awesome).

At 6:15 we would be updated on the departure situation. That never happened. For the next 4 hours the airport sent out the announcement that we would be updated at 6:15. Don’t you think there’s something terribly wrong with that? I think there is something terribly wrong with that.

Well, here I am, exactly 6 hours after 6:15 and I finally know when I’ll be getting on that plane. It won’t be for another couple of hours.

Here is what happened in between – thanks to redbull, I took multiple trips to the washroom, involved myself in a self-induced panic attack regarding my lost situation because my flight from Dammam to Delhi would be leaving without me in Dammam or in the flight. This would be sorted out, of course – but you really can’t blame me for freaking out disproportionately about things going so wrong the first time I get to travel alone. It is pretty daunting and scary because you literally know no one and almost everyone speaks just the language you don’t and you’re kind of used to being around your beautiful cat (May God rest Maow’s soul, I miss you terribly my love).

I haven’t slept in 27 hours, I have a loving family who is keeping tabs on me and marking my turtle’s progress towards Delhi and I just received free food For Sad Passengers Who Had To Stay At The Airport For 10 Hours Because Of The Weather. This is what happens when traveling alone meets adventure. It’s pretty brilliant! Try it?

PS: Sorry about the lack of pictures (I’m apologizing to myself), unsurprisingly a glitch isn’t letting me transfer pictures to my laptop.

2 thoughts on “Travel Writing: Day 1 (Still At the Airport)

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