When I decide to travel, something does get shaken up; at least it seems like it. I had to leave home to attend a two weeks course, if it had been anybody else, things would have been smooth for them, in my case, my boss sat on my leave application for ten days before granting me leave. After that I applied for visa and that too run into a couple of snags but that’s another story altogether and requires a full post. I got a flight that leaves at 5:45 am which means I leave home at 3.00 am. As they say here in Italy, perfecto.
But as it was me, things got more interesting. When I got to the boarding counter, it was closed and I was told that the flight was one hour late. After a while someone actually came and we got our boarding passes and proceeded to the lounge and lo and behold, I see a reincarnated version of Madonna from eighties, complete with platinum blond hair with dark eye brows and conical bra which she wore under a shirt that belonged to her when she was two sizes slimmer, and yes, she did make quite a picture.
Surprisingly, the first end of my journey was quite uneventful. I boarded the plane and was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me; I stretched my legs, closed my eyes and woke up when we landed in Dubai.
Dubai was as mad as it can ever be and more. I decided to kill sometime at the bookshop and was horrified to find out that none of the paperbacks was sold for less than 90 dirhams, and that’s a lot of money for a poor person like me.
As luck would have it, I got off at one end of the airport and took the connecting flight at gate 149 which is at the very end of the airport, you then have to climb down the ramp, get on a bus and ride to the plane (why do they make us do that, I don’t know. If they can build so many tunnels, they could have made three more.
At the lounge waiting for my connecting flight to Venice, I noticed that there were hardly any Italians travelling to the city of canals. Along with the customary Japanese tourists and a few American families, the flight was half packed with Tamils and Bengalis of both varieties (Indian Bengalis and Bangladeshis). One woman who was travelling from Dhaka wore enough gold to rival Mr T from A team (you have not lived if you have not grown up on the old reruns of MASH and A team which was as farcical a show as it gets, but I digress. It looked more like a flight bound to Tamil Nadu than Venice, but that’s globalization.
Anyways, I boarded the plane and for the first time in my life, I got to sit next to a seriously gorgeous man. I couldn’t believe my luck when he came and pointed that I have my book on his seat. He looked at me and smiled and I looked back and smiled some more. If it had been a Hindi film, we would have started singing our first song before the plane took off, but in real life we stuck to sideway glances and occasional smiles. After a while, he introduced himself as Paulo and what followed was rapid fire round of Italian. Yes, he couldn’t speak a sentence in English and as my Italian is limited to uno cappuccino per favore (One cappuccino please), Grazie (Thank You) Prego (Don’t mention it) and mi chiamo Tazeen (My name is Tazeen) all I could do was actually introduce myself. With my luck in general and with men in particular, it had to be something like this. I could not have a man sitting next to me who was good looking, interested and able to converse in either of the two languages I know.
Marcopolo airport at Venice is another game altogether. All, and I mean all immigration officers had shaved heads, if they did not had darker Mediterranean skin, they looked members of some skin head supremacist cult, but I digress again. The immigration took no time, the immigration officer spent a total of 21 seconds (yes, I was counting) on my passport and viola I was free to go.
I took a bus that took me to the central train station from where I bought a ticket to Gorizia, which is one the last towns at Italian border, my final destination. After waiting for two hours at the platform in sweltering heat of Venice, I boarded the train and guess, what? You gotta run fast to grab hold of a seat because they always oversell the tickets. There I was, after 14 hours of journey, holding on to my suitcase in a train which was like an oven (they neither had air-conditioning nor, windows that can be opened. After reaching Gorizia, I hired a cabbie to take me to the destination and guess what he did? He took me around the city 5 times ( I have walked around the city since then and I know how tiny it is), told me he cannot find the address and dumped me in front of a hotel (their biggest and most expensive). After 20 hours of journey, I was in no condition to stand on my two feet so I went in, rented a room, and slept round the clock. By the way, did I tell you that I came out 120 euro poorer after this little adventure?
This is Tazeen, signing off from Gorizia.