The day had finally arrived. August 11th, 2016. Bags packed and arranged neatly in the hall the previous night. I was finally set to leave my beloved parents, house and my country. The Uber arrived promptly and even the driver looked at me with a sense of respect for the job I was about to undertake. The whole air had a feel of being just the perfect day. The journey from Borivali to Andheri took longer than expected due to the ever-present traffic on Mumbai streets, especially early mornings and late evenings. My mom had a look of uneasiness in her eyes since she felt that we would be late while my dad had a calmer look, having seen a lot more of the world than her. The entire journey I was reprimanded by my mom for not leaving the house earlier. However, as always, my dad was able to come to my rescue and doused the matter down. It was getting a bit late, I wasn’t too fussed. The unexpected delay should have warned me about how the day was about to unfold.
The first beads of perspiration started to trickle in the fully air conditioned hall.
My roommates and soon to be friends, who were traveling with me were already present there with their respective parents, friends, relatives and all those who had come to bid them adieu. My relatives were present too and came to the cab to help unload the baggage once we got down. After exchanging pleasantries, it was unanimously decided that a group pic consisting of just the traveling party should be taken. Once the 7 of us got together all the cameras and phones came out. It was our moment of fame and we felt like celebrities with flashing cameras and people jostling to take our pics. After we dispersed and rejoined our families, the customary pics with all our relatives started. Later as we exhausted all the permutations of clicking pics, I looked over to the entrance and saw that my friends were heading inside for the baggage check-in. So, with teary eyes, everyone hugged me and wished me good luck for the 1000th time and told me to take care of myself and focus on my studies. My mom brimming with emotions hugged me once again and told me she would be here till I boarded the flight. My dad controlled emotions remarkably well and told me that if any bag exceeded the weight or dimensions, I should immediately come out and hand it to him. I finally departed and waved at everyone until I could no longer see them.
The massive baggage checking hall was peppered with the airport security and staff, all neatly dressed and helping people with information they needed. The airport staff lady for my flight, told me, in a weirdly sounding Indian English accent, to place my handbag in a box beside me. The placard above the box indicated that the bag must fit inside this box. But alas, my handbag exceeded the dimensions and the lady told me that I would have to remove some stuff. The first beads of perspiration started to trickle in the fully air conditioned hall. I immediately came outside the hall and signaled my dad to come over. I removed things from the bag which I felt would be unnecessary and handed it to him. I came back in and made my way over to the same lady. Again, she told me to check the bag but again the bag would not fit inside the box. And again, you guessed it, I had to make my way over to my dad and hand him some things. This was not how I had expected my biggest journey to get off. It was starting to get repetitive and tiresome. But as they say, thirds the charm. The third time when I came back the lady was busy talking to a woman in front of me so I waited patiently for her to finish. Out of nowhere a man dressed in the same staff uniform came forth and told me to put the handbag along with the check-in bags. He led me to the front of the desk and told the lady to put this handbag as the 4th check-in bag. I stood at a distance from the desk, lest I am told to go and remove some more things from my bag. I waited in anticipation constantly looking at the lady behind the desk for the slightest movement or nod of approval. She did neither. Through the glass doors, I could see my family anxiously waiting for me to give them a thumb up or come out again to remove some more things. Finally, the lady behind the counter looked up at me and called me forward. She asked for my passport and luckily, I could breathe a sigh of relief as everything went smoothly after that. I got my boarding pass and made my way over to my roommates, who were waiting at the far end, having done their baggage check-ins with no hassle. We went through the security check-in and after window shopping, the items in the excessively lit shops finally reached the waiting lobby.
Our flight was due in an hour and we had time to kill, so we engaged in light-hearted banter and took some pics. Everyone checked in on Facebook to let the world know, at least to those who already didn’t, that they were about to leave India. I have never checked in on Facebook, since I never understood what people could possibly say when you are flying, except happy journey. After this, we made calls to our parents and relatives to let them know that we would soon be boarding. The flight arrived on time and we all hopped in. I got the window seat, and I was happy. I have no idea why but that is the case with anyone who gets a window seat. After mandatory instructions from cabin crew, we locked into our seats. The flight took off. The chapter outside India began.