Friday, November 7, 2008

Countdown to 27

I was staring at the stars in the sky and wondering..what makes numbers like 25, 50 or 100 so special compared to others? Why are they comparable to Silver or Gold? Well, I haven't reached to any conclusions as yet..but for me my 27th birthday would be more memorable than my 25th. Its not about that very day but all the transpiration that led up to it and the sneak peek that it has given of the times that lie has certainly been special compared to all the previous ones..Especially on my 25th I was entering a safe & secure phase for around two years at the IITB campus. Now two years later I was out of it stepping into the real life...completely open to any and all possibilities.

Around a month before the day..I started feeling the heat of things to come as the time had come to leave Hyderabad for a destination long long away. Staying in a new & culturally mixed place like Hyderabad had helped a lot in shaping up my expectations about Malaysia..where I was headed for my first job after post graduate studies and the first step towards my big journey around the world. The earlier journeys had cleared one thing in my mind..its not that fun traveling around as a tourist as much as staying at a place for a while to discern the multi-layered aesthetics of the culture there.

I moved back from Hyderabad to Nagpur, managed whatever meetings I can with friends and family, packed all my stuff and was good to go. I had a connecting flight from Nagpur to Mumbai before flying from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur and a 3 hours stop in Mumbai. So I had made plans to meet up with my sister, Maitreyee, who was in Mumbai. I was carrying some stuff that I had to pass on to her and she had exchanged Malaysian currency for me which was going to be my main source of funds for the first month till I get my first salary. So the meeting was technically a must...apart from the emotional "Bhaiyya!!" - "Behana!!" stuff. :).
I reached Mumbai on time..but every bit of cribbing that I had heard from travelers about services at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport turned out to be true. Because it took me more than an hour to move from domestic to international section! Though there was a free shuttle service available, its frequency was around 20-25 minutes. And when I reached, the last shuttle had left just a minute ago. So I waited for the next one..but 20 minutes later when the next one arrived they did not allow me in saying that I was carrying heavy luggage and heavy luggage can be carried only on alternate they advised me to catch the next one!
Ah come on!! Couldn't you have provided this information earlier? I would have taken a taxi which takes around 45 minutes to reach, but I would have reached even before the next shuttle arrives. Now it is too late to even take the taxi! I had no option left but to wait for the next shuttle...and Maitreyee was already waiting on the other side. We couldn't even communicate properly as her cell phone was giving connectivity problems and I did not keep much balance in mine as I was planning to leave the country. It was one of the MOST frustrating hours I had spent in my life.
Finally I caught the next shuttle which took another 20 minutes to reach the domestic side instead of 10-15 as I was told earlier. Anyway, I had a hurried meeting with my sister, exchanged the stuff, bid her good bye and went for the check in. I saw there was no one in queue for checking in Malaysian Airlines when I started my airport security check. I knew I was late.

By the time I had finished the security check, the Malaysian Airlines checkin counters were already closed!! I requested them to do the last check in & they obliged. But my baggage weighed almost 40 they said they cannot allow me and there was not much time for other formalities because immigration was going to take time since I was going out on a work permit. So SORRY! We cannot help you! WHAT?? That was the first time in my life when I felt that my heart had stopped beating! I cannot miss that plane!! My future hangs on that job! least near future. I tried to convince them but the guy just walked away from the counter. I couldn't do anything so I just followed him till he reported to his senior...and I then requested his senior. He clarified to me that even if I pay for the extra luggage it cannot weigh more than 30 KG..and they could not wait till I sort that stuff out. The way he spoke..I saw a ray of hope..and requested him for just 5 minutes to sort everything out. He agreed. That's when my heart started beating again! I immediately paid for the extra luggage with my credit card [that was the quickest ever decision taken by me to spend 8000 Rs on something!], took out another bag from inside and shifted around 10 KG of weight into it. By that time, the senior officer had prepared my boarding pass. He came to me and asked me to calm down. He told me that he had given me a pass for business class even though I had a economy class ticket just to make the immigration process faster. He also gave an office boy with me to carry out all the remaining formalities as quickly as possible. That was THE MOMENT of my life! I realized that the concept of Angels is not a myth.

I finished of the all the security checks and immigration formalities..all the while running to save time. The Angel again met me just before I boarded the plane..His name was Arnold Florindo and he worked as Traffic Officer for Malaysian Airlines. I thanked him with all my heart...and made a resolution to help someone in distress ,who comes to me, as a repayment of the debt. When I boarded the flight I thought of what would have happened if I had missed the flight..I could not think anything dramatic..but I had a feeling that the moment was surely going to change my life forever. Time will it always does..I said to myself. I don't know when I dozed off after that..

The first two weeks in Malaysia were splendid. My workplace was awesome..and work was even better! The kind of exposure, responsibility, opportunity for learning & future growth I felt there, would not have matched in any of the other offers I
had for sure. I kept on thanking the Angel every time I felt that I had been lucky to be here.

I started going out once I settled down... and started realizing it more and more..what the missed flight would have cost me! And as 4th of November inched near, the whole world was also eagerly involved in the countdown. It was more for the American Presidential Elections and Barack Obama but I strongly felt the synchronicity.

"If you want something really badly...all the universe will conspire for you to achieve it.". Paulo Coehlo has famously said in 'The Alchemist'.
I was realizing the truth in that statement as I celebrated my 27th birthday on the roof top of my [coincidentally?] 27 floored condominium in Kuala Lumpur staring at the stars in the sky!

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