Monday, June 27, 2011

Unaccompanied Minor

Ayaana traveled last week from Bangalore to Los Angeles. This is the first time that she has traveled alone and needless to say, Mona and I were in a state of heightened anxiety for weeks. British Airways has a special escort service for unaccompanied minors and we signed up for that. So we knew that she was going to be taken care of throughout the journey. But we were still having nightmarish visions about lost passports, missed flights etc.

I went to the airport to drop her off on her day of departure. Check-in was smooth. A BA agent was assigned to escort her through immigrations and security all the way to the plane. Her flight was scheduled to depart at 6:30am and I was scheduled to travel to Chennai on a 7:00am flight. I was promptly chided by the BA agent for scheduling my flight so close to the departure time of Ayaana's flight. As per the rules, the person coming to drop a minor off MUST be available in the airport until her flight takes off. I begged the agent to call me as soon as Ayaana has boarded the plane.

I started to worry as 6:15am rolled by and there was no call. By 6:30am my flight had started boarding. I was in the coach headed to my plane - no call. I could see the British Airways flight moving on the runway - no call! Did Ayaana make it on the plane? My heart is pounding and I am on the phone with Mona every few minutes in case they called her. I was in my seat in the plane when the call finally came. Ayaana's plane had taken off and she was fine. What a relief!

After another 26 hours of high anxiety, she called from Los Angeles - safe and sound. Phew! Can't wait to go through this cycle again when she returns in July.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A travel companion named Murphy

I am almost at the tail end at my 2-week trip to the UK and US and have had pretty good luck with most of my travel until yesterday. It was Murphy's Day as far as travel was concerned. We had a meeting in New York on June 9th and had to leave for Boston in the afternoon. Our flight to Boston was booked out of Newark (Mistake #1). Our flight was scheduled to depart at 4:50pm. We were done with our meeting by 2pm and decided to grab a bite to eat before heading out to the airport (Mistake #2).

We had a heck of a time trying to get a cab. It seemed like all available cabs in New York city had disappeared at that time. Those that we did manage to stop were not interested in going to the Newark airport (which is why this was Mistake #1). We walked around for 45 minutes searching for a cab and finally picked one up at Penn Station (Mistake #3 - should have taken a train to Boston!).

The cab ride was painful because by now rush traffic had started and we were stuck getting through the Lincoln Tunnel. We finally made it to the airport by 4:20pm. We might have arrived half an hour earlier if it wasn't for Mistake #2. Our scheduled flight had not departed yet but we did not think that we could make it (Mistake #4). We got ourselves booked on a later flight scheduled to depart at 6pm. We thought we could still make it to Boston at a decent hour and treat ourselves to a seafood dinner. But Murphy was hard at work. The 6pm flight was delayed and delayed again and delayed yet again to 10:30pm. The 4:50pm flight meanwhile took off at 7pm (remember Mistake #4?).

Our delayed flight did not take off until midnight. Needless to say, there was no seafood dinner that night. Murphy triumphed yet again!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Home sweet home!

I am back in Los Angeles and it sure feels good to be home. It's been a while since I have been away. The warm sense of familiarity and comfort descended on me as soon as I stepped off the plane at LAX. The feeling of belonging and ownership that comes out of spending twenty years in a place is indescribable. As I drove home in a taxi on the 110 freeway, I reconnected with the city. Passing by Staples Center, Convention Center, Dodger Stadium fired up the "I've been there and experienced that" neurons in my brain.

I always look forward to the first sight of our home as the car drives up on Esmeralda Drive and this time was no different. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to walk around the house, step onto the deck, peek into the garage before I am fully reconnected with the place. Old habits resurface and I quickly slip into my old routine!

Home sweet home! Oh - what a feeling!