Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Epic Journey, Tapos Brownout

The red line of epic-ness!

Revelation: airline ticket counters are hot spots for human kindness. It all began as I checked in for the Boston-JFK leg of my epic two-day journey to Bangladesh. Evil officials bent on maximum inconvenience had decreed that passengers could only carry two items on the plane: a purse OR a laptop bag OR a tiny tiny carry-on bag. But I had all three! In response to my blank stare upon being told about the cabin limits, the lady told me to just stick my purse in my carry-on. Viola, it fit, and I walked away a proper citizen adhering to all flying rules.

Then, after magically heading in exactly the right direction to get to my terminal in NY, the ticket guy for Emirates weighed my carry-on and announced that it was overweight and would have to be checked in. BUT, my carry-on contained highly stealable items (TX calculators) that I'd been assigned to hand carry to the SIKROT location, so I fired back, "No, I need the stuff in there. Can I repack?" Ticket man raised an eyebrow at me and asked where I would put my stuff, at which point I revealed that I had a spare purse inside (I actually had two, because I believe in being Crazy Prepared). He looked searchingly at my face, with its winter hamster cheeks glowing with wholesome innocence, and said, "Just bring it." Yay!

Another revelation: sometimes, one can get really lucky. Case 1: out of habit, I'd headed straight for the terminal for Doha, only to realize about an hour later that I was actually going through Dubai this time. I speedwalked to the right place and arrived just as they called my row. Score! Case 2: I had no seatmates! And being a shorty, I was almost exactly the right height to stretch out fully on three seats with three pillows under my head. Gyahahaha!!!

Emirates is F-A-N-C-Y

Case 3: while wandering around Dubai airport, I realized I had left my iPhone somewhere! I dashed back to -- and I didn't know this at the time -- the wrong mobile/laptop charging kiosk and demanded, "iPhone!" to the young man occupying my previous seat (I thought it was, anyway). He obligingly offered me his own iPhone, and looked blank when I freaked out in response. The uh, holy men (guys in white robes) looked concerned as I muttered imprecautions under my breath, and they said, "No iPhone." I thanked them and suddenly realized -- I'd left it on top of the toilet paper dispenser in the ladies room!

AAAHHHH~!, I screamed in my head as I zoomed through the terminal. Below is a helpful diagram:

Long story short, no one in the ladies room stole my iPhone, hereby named iMelda for all the trouble she caused. The nice Pinay janitress was surprised: "Andami nang nagbanyo diyan ha!"

Case 4: and THEN, there was a big crush to get to the boarding gate, but my permanent expression of mild confusion (and blue passport) got me into the VIP line. Gyahahahahahaha!!!!

Engrish is truly global!

Case 5: finally, as we wearily trooped/shoved into the plane at 3:30 am (two hours delayed), a concerned husband, who'd been telling every stewardess he could collar where his wife and child were seated (apparently they were seated separately from him), turned around and smacked into my carry-on. I apologized, of course, and he declared, "I'll help you!" and hoisted the overweight sucker into a nearby overhead bin. Yay!

I arrived a couple hours late, spent the next hour in line at immigration, and another half hour waiting for my baggage. I got airport pickup by the wrong person who helped me find the right person, and the uniformed guys who were supposed to assist me at the airport somehow ended up with some snotty Columbia University students (not like me at all!). Then I finally got to have lunch with my dear colleagues here, went home, and...

May extra mattress pa!

...ay, brownout. I'm told it's brownout here from 6 pm to 1 am, but I guess someone lied, because I have power (=wireless internet) again. Yay!

And now, bed.