Thursday, August 19, 2004

Journey of a lifetime !

I don't want to break the tradition of writing about your trip experiences to the States so here goes! (more so in my case since it turned out to be quite memorable!)

Finally I'm in the US of A! It was an amazing journey! Heres a brief detailed account of the things -

Firstly, I boarded the plane from Mumbai! I had already registered for a window seat online itself to Delta Airlines. I requested for a wheel chair (I was operated on my left knee on the 16th of July and consequently needed one coz' I’m not in the best of my health & cannot walk at long stretches coz it pains) & it really turned out to be more than a blessing in disguise. The person chauffeured me around and also took care of the luggage. I didn’t have to stand in the line whatsoever and although the bags were overweight it didn’t matter much ... my one bag was 35 kgs whereas Delta allows only 31.5 kgs per bag!

Once I was inside the plane I went and sat on my designated 'window seat' only to find out later that the seat was actually a wrong choice coz' the leg space was too less yet I managed to make myself comfortable! The worst part of it all later a person came to sit next to me which unfortunately turned out to be a 'man' and that too a 'kallu' ! But eventually I ended up talking to the blackie and he was from New York and was in Textile business! He had come to India for finding out whether or not he can 'outsource' anything! He was quite a talkative person! The plane was good but it was really shivering & thank GOD I was wearing a winter jacket on! (I had decided not to wear the suit which generally was the trend while traveling coz' I felt the mere thought of wearing a suit & sitting in the wheel chair seemed quite depressing) But at night after I boarded the plane they got food after one hour that is 3 am in the night and again at 6 am in the morning the same thing! Eventually the sleep suffered! I got up only once to free my legs in that flight of 8 hours to b4 landing in Paris!

Again came the wheel chair to pick me up at the door of the plane!

The best thing about Paris is that it had a really wonderful airport and the worst things no one out there speaks anything apart from French! Now, at the checkpoint out there the person asked me some document in French...eventually I didn’t get what he was saying and I told him please could you speak English I do not understand French! Still he continued saying that so I said to myself rather whispered 'chayla kay kantala ahe’! And the story started he felt that I said something to him in my native language! However he spoke all this in English! So ' I explained him that that’s the whole point I was trying to make that I do not understand English & I would really appreciate if you could speak in English so that I comprehend what you are speaking and things can be easier for me! Anyways, it wasn’t much of an issue as he left me immediately. After that the person drove my wheel chair to the waiting lounge and left me there! I moved around a bit as soon as he left me and had a look around at the shops! Out there I purchased a global calling card & called up home & spoke to Mom 'from Paris' ....felt better after that! Then comes the announcement that the plane to Atlanta was going to start the boarding from counter no. C86 in another 45 minutes! I went and sat there and was left in the plane (obviously by the wheel chair) as soon as the boarding started!

But to my shock the ticket was right in the middle of the plane in the sense there were seating arrangements like 2-5-2! & I was seated right in the center position of the 5! The worst part of it the leg space was much lesser than the plane earlier and the whole scenario was quite cramped up! The only good thing being it had screen at the back of each seat! ... it had a remote at on the chair with a cord on that I pulled it as soon as I sat and started going thru' all the entertainment that was provided on the small TV but after I got bored in bout half an hour I decided to put the remote back in place and the cord wont go inside ! I started putting in manually inside coz' it didn’t seem to recoil or anything of that sort! .... It was pull to stow! ...but I realized that later! There was a French couple sitting to my left both of 'em must be 50+ and to my right were 2 friends must be around 25! The left ones both were involved in there own funny things and the right ones were interactive right from the beginning! The only good thing was that the couple used to get up after every 3-4 hours stand and wait for some time, walk around & do kinda things and they encouraged me to do the same! It was a blessing in disguise coz' it really helped my knee! I landed in Atlanta!

This was the time I really felt Wow! I'm in the US of A! I'm finally in America! It was a huge airport and wonderful one! All fair faces running around here & there & in the midst of 'em me on my wheel chair being driven around from one place to another! I was at gate E16 and was taken by a bus to the B counter and then driven (inside the airport) to B01 gate. When I reached the Delta counter at around 5:25 pm (the flight was at 5:44) I came to know that in spite of having a confirmed ticket I didn’t had a seat on the plane! The next one was at 9:58 in the night... I said okay to him and he issued me a boarding pass of the same! I went around a bit found some nice shops (didn’t buy anything...:) ) got another card for 200 minutes & called up Sameer(my bro' in USA) , called up Sarang in Arlington and called up the person Shriram was going to pick me up at Dallas ! Then my bro' told me that ask them & pester them to give you a ticket for the earliest plane available and explain to 'em that things would be really difficult for myself in case these ppl don’t gimme a ticket ! I did so & got a ticket for the 8:45 plane but again this was from gate A28! There I go again on my wheel chair thru' the shuttle on the wheel chair thru the lift on the wheel chair thru the airport to A28! I boarded the plane but by this time I was dead tired & felt like I would drop dead this time if I don’t sleep! With much difficulty I managed to keep my eyes open until I sat down on my seat (it was a window one but by this time I was so tired that I didn’t have a grasp of what was happening around at all & was behaving quite mechanically like a robot)

At this point of the time I slept right b4 the take off and got up 10 minutes b4 landing (that makes a nice 2 1/2 hours sleep ) When I opened my eyes I found a big fat lady sitting next to me ! (I wondered how she got into that seat, guess missed that due my sleep but would have been really hilarious)....saw some nice lights down
from the plane! Once I landed, took the wheel chair, went out the airport & now I was on my own! By this time again I had regained some part of my energy and was feeling better! The person who had come to pick me up met me inside the airport helped me with my luggage ...put everything in his car & into UTA within 15 minutes!

Actually at the end of it all I felt I was really good that I got the wheel chair otherwise I would have had a horrendous time running around the airport and kinda things!

Neil Armstrong created history (which is still debatable whether he actually landed on the Moon) some time back (do not remember the date) & here history repeats itself but at diff. place. Ninad Gujar steps in the land of opportunities, the United States of America to make a promising career (& yes I definitely landed here no doubt about that ) ....he he anyways time for to go have some dinner rather I should say cook some dinner ! More later....

1 comment:

Pallavi Limaye said...

Hey ninad..this post is really nice..your first steps or rather wheel rolls into the land of dreams for many and lots more.