I have wanted to go to India for such a long time and I got the opportunity to visit a friend in Goa and when opportunity knocks you should jump at the chance, right? Well I did. I didn’t quite jump mind you, I deliberated-a lot. In the space of a few days, I was going, then I wasn’t going, then I was going again and it was only after approval from my dear mum (I still need her approval at my tender age!) that I decided life is too short for this much deliberation.
The journey was far from uneventful. I have never flown on an international flight followed by a domestic flight in one day before and it was confusing to say the least. When I checked in at Bangkok I asked the lady if my bag went straight through to Goa because I was to get a connecting flight in Mumbai. She told me it would but I needed to clear customs in Mumbai.
I didn’t really understand that but nevertheless I got to Mumbai with no problems. It wasn’t so plain sailing after that. I got to the arrival hall where there were signs for domestic transfer, so far so good. I followed them and it took me passed an office for diplomatic passports and, as it turned out, E-tourist visas, which is what I had arranged before my trip. The office was exactly the place I needed to be to clear customs but at the time I didn’t realise that. There were no signs for that!
Now slightly baffled, I asked someone which way I needed for domestic transfer and she directed me to the immigration queue. Now I realised what the lady in Bangkok meant by having to clear customs.
After about 10 minutes, I walked up to the desk only to be told that I needed desk numbers 4-6. Yep, you guessed it, the office where I had passed earlier. So, back I went and now I saw the sign for E-tourist visa, not a sign with an arrow but on the window. Honestly, who looks at those! Not me, apparently!
There weren’t many people in the queue, so I waited in line to be stamped into the country. I waited and waited. Each person had to have biometric tests done; fingers scanned and picture taken. But the scanner wasn’t working properly, so it was taking up to 15 minutes to get one person done and there were about ten people in front of me.
By this time I was starting to panic; what if I missed my connecting flight? I had a good two hours between flights but with all this delay the time was ticking on. Eventually, after an hour and a half I cleared customs and I had to race to the domestic terminal. It wasn’t over yet!
If you remember, the lady in Bangkok told me I wouldn’t see my bag until I reached Goa, so I by-passed the luggage carousel and queued at the bag-drop counter. B-A-G D-R-O-P! Still the penny hadn’t dropped. I stood there wondering why I had to wait as I had my boarding pass already, so I asked the lady if I needed to check my bags in. She told me I did.
At this point, I began to lose the power of speech. I babbled what I had been told in Bangkok. The lovely lady replied, “Yes, they do go through, but you need to drop them here. Go back and get your bag and come back here.” Time still ticking!
So, I ran back to the luggage carousel only to met by a large security man who asked, “What happened, ma’am?”
I could hardly get my words out. But he let me pass, only to find that my bag wasn’t on the belt. I felt like crying by this point. I am not going to Goa today I thought. I ran up to the desk and tried to explain, I am going to Goa, the delay, my bag, blah blah blah……….He replied, “Is that your bag?” I turned around and, lo and behold, my bag was sitting on the, now stationary, carousel looking as lost as I felt.
I could have kissed that guy. I rescued my bag and made my way back to the bag-drop counter. Before I got there though, I had to get my bag scanned but the security guard must have seen my face, nearly in tears, because he told me just to go through. As I approached the bag-drop counter for the second time that day, a guy came racing along shouting “Goa! Goa!” Now I knew I was on borrowed time. The lady quickly checked my boarding pass, I said goodbye to my bag once more and I walked, half-ran actually, to the domestic terminal. I got there still with ten minutes to spare.
Finally, I arrived in Goa in one piece, although I had to fight back the tears a few times. I actually consider myself well travelled and know what I am doing at airports but that day I was certainly put to the test. Thankfully I passed! Just!