View From My Apartment 12
The trip continues…
So. Where did we leave off? Ah. Yes. Jolly old England. Land of Shakespeare. Tea. And Royalty. The epitome of good behavior.
Heathrow, when we had landed had been under cloud cover for days. And this had backed up a lot of planes. A lot. And not just in England. Apparently there were flights out of Europe that weren’t even taking off because they couldn’t land at Heathrow.
We had just missed our flight and now it was time to rebook. My wife and I, and the rest of Europe. We got into the line as quickly as we could. And began the process of waiting. Which, really, shouldn’t take long, right? There were maybe 50 people a head of us. It should be fine. Right. Maybe there’s even another flight out to Delhi today, we’ll just be hours late, but we’ll still get there.
Two hours later and I was beginning to think, perhaps they needed more staff.
Basically, there were three people who were assigned to rebook us lost travelers. And many of them were pissed lost travelers who were determined to laugh in the face of mother nature, the airlines and destiny and still arrive where they wanted to as soon as they possibly could. Many of them didn’t understand: there are no flights. One guy was trying to get to Denver, CO. Denver was undergoing a blizzard. I knew he wasn’t going to make it. So, things took some time.
As I said in the last edition, the British are not particularly good at solving problems and this trip was certainly testing that theory, but they ARE excellent at apologizing. And waiting in line as another opportunity to apologize. In this case, for not having enough staff to handle the rebooking. At about two and half hours in line, they started passing out water, sandwiches, and cookies. Mm. Cookies.
Finally, we get to the front of the line. Which is a great place to be. Finally the journey is over, finally the pickering, the depression, the what the hells are over. We’ve arrived. Perhaps there’s another flight today? Sure, that guy didn’t get to go to Denver, but that was Denver, we’re doing to India, surely we must be different!
They rebook us on the next flight, which will be the next day. I think the guy behind the counter was happy with us—we didn’t argue or yell with him. Why? Unless he can fly a plane he ain’t worth it. The flight being the next day, they gave us a hotel room. Bonus!
And now we have to go through customs, which of course means standing in another line.
Panic, however, sets in. I’m a US citizen. I have a US passport. Many places in the world, Europe and the UK for example, I don’t need a visa to visit. It kind of kicks ass really. The US passport. Heee AH! However. My wife is an Indian citizen. Indian citizens require a visa to visit the United Kingdom. Will she be able to get out of the airport?
We get to the head of the line much faster—there’s more staff—go figure. Behind the counter is a snappily dressed British Bloke. I say Bloke because he had pin stripped pants and purplish shirt that could only be pulled off by a British Bloke—like a guy in a British Heist film. I would never be able to pull off a look like that. I was jealous. I handed him my passport—with a knowing heart that I would have no problems.
And I didn’t. And then my wife handed hers. With her Green Card.
Now. Let me tell you something you may not know about the Green Card. It’s not Green. I don’t know if it was ever Green. But my wife’s isn’t. It’s like a pale yellow. However, a Green Card is a marvelous thing. When we got to India, everyone always asked, like it was a great key to some magical place. When in reality, it opens the door to our apartment in Queens.
The British Bloke checked the card, checked her passport, filled out some papers. And then…he had to check with his boss. This British Bloke was in training.
He came back all Bloke like. We were fine. For 24 hours! Wahoo! England ROCKS!
We’re out of customs and then to the bus—after making our way through baggage claim, which looked like a luggage store had exploded.
We get on our bus, which will take us to a nearby hotel, for our free night with dinner and breakfast. Free! I love it! The bus made it way around the Heathrow Complex—an appropriate name for sure. And the fog was thick. I cannot emphasize this enough. I had thought I had seen thick fog. But. No. England triumphs.
We make it to the hotel, we check in, go to our room and sit. For the first time in hours. Silence. Comfort. And a bathroom that hasn’t been visited by the rest of the world. We nap. Then. We eat.
The dinner is a buffet. And all you can eat. Not that one is going to eat everything. It is a buffet and has been sitting there for who knows how long. But eat we do. My wife likes deals and nothing is a better deal than free.
We go back to our room. We watch some American movie. Watch some British TV. Titter at the jokes we think we understand and then we sleep again.
Back to the airport.
We go into Terminal Four in a different way than we left it. We go in the front door. And into utter chaos. People wandering around, pushing luggage carts, leaving kids to find for themselves. People standing, sitting, sleeping, not sure what to do, where to go. Everyone was a refugee. It was like Dunkirk. (Points to anyone who remembers Dunkirk).
My wife and I were determined. Determined to get to where we needed to be and get on our damn plane. India wasn’t going to wait for long.
Now. I need to step back a little. We both had checked in some luggage and we both had rolling bags for the overhead. In New York, we were told they looked ok, even though British Airways was hardcore and our bags were just a wee bit over. And from New York to Heathrow everything was fine. So. We were hoping that it wouldn’t be a problem again.
It wasn’t. Our luck had run out. We had to check them in. No extra charge, this time. But they wouldn’t even budge a wee. My wife was pissed and I ushered her through the whole thing rather quickly, I wanted to get through security. I wanted to get to my gate.
This led to our first fight of the trip. I was trying to avoid a confrontation between my wife and the security woman. I just wanted to get my wife through everything and then…it would be ok. However, what I got was a fight between me and my wife. In hindsight, I should have just let her yell at the woman behind the counter.
But. We did it. We got through. And we had some time to kill. Which we did buying liquor at the duty free shop.
And then we went to our gate.
There were a lot of Indians going home. It was the holidays after all. But. Still. There were a lot. It was going to be a crowded flight. And this time, I was going to be able to sit next to my wife.
We boarded the plane and commenced departure procedures. In both English and Hindi. Meals were both western and Indian. The movies…yes…English and Bollywood.
I ate. I slept.
We arrived in Delhi!
Next up! Wait, is it supposed to be this cold and foggy in India? Why are my In-Laws trying to poison me!?