It was 9th April 2011 (could remember the exact date as next day was my brother’s birthday), seeing off my family at ‘Namma Bangaluru Kempegowda Airport’. It was my first travel to onsite; Bristol, UK. Standing in a queue to check in the bag; kind of sad feeling thinking about departure from family; it’s going to be so many miles apart! Checked in the bag and received boarding pass. Before stepping up to security check, peeped out through glass to see if my family is still waiting out!! – eyes were searching for parents and heart to my sweetheart!! Yeah, they were there! Very much delighted to see all of them together standing and watching me. Waved hand to them till they are out of sight.
Security check is completed (rather it’s cleared) with lot of cross questions as was on business visa. Walked towards gate; there was warm welcome from Air hostess who was in Saree;complete traditional attire portraying SriLankan Airlines logo (It reminds me of peacock). Eager to watch all minute things happening over there; announcement, instructions, map coming over TV, head sets, entertainment lists and so on. Snacks arrived and by the time I could finish eating, heard announcement of landing. I had transit at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo for 4hours.
One of my colleague was also travelling along with me in same flight. I was hardly knowing any of other team members as had recently joined company, so I just know him by name. Working for same company is just enough to start talking each other at unknown place :-). We exchanged some details, roamed airport;still we had 3 more hours. Luckily it was IPL 20-20 season and time passed watching match.
Boarded to next flight which is direct to Heathrow Airport, London; almost 11hours travel. Watched few movies. Enjoyed hospitality showered by airhostess. Announcement of landing woke me up and got myself ready and started peeping out to see new city. Aerial view was awesome. Flight landed after an hour as delayed getting runways to land. Met my colleague near immigration check. He was on work permit and finished with formalities soon. I was taken to separate room where chest x-ray check was happening for all the arrived ladies. This took long time. It was so kind of him that he was waiting for me; we moved to baggage claim area, picked our bags from Baggage carousel. Coach to Bristol was booked for both by our company travel desk. We missed the coach as flight was delayed. We booked next available coach. Again had an hour time. I was blindly walking behind him (he had travelled many more times), inquisitive eyes were just scanning all around coach station. We decided to have sandwich and he was asking for my choices. I started reading each content and took really long time to decide to buy one!
Time to board Coach, so we took parcel and returned to the bay area. Surprised to see people standing in queue to get into coach; Only driver to check the tickets, and even he helps to put bags in luggage compartment, greet each happy journey. We two got into bus and settled down. There is announcement by driver about tying seat belt!! Everything was looking formal, disciplined. It was more than two hours journey with that sandwich in hand and seat belt tied. Took taxi together to our accommodation. B&B(bread&breakfast – motel which provide only breakfast along with room) was booked for me as company house accommodation was completely filled. I got down at my B&B and he moved to his destination in same taxi. I verified name of B&B from the file which I had been given by travel desk and walked towards building. I knocked the door, no response for long time. I shouted searching if anyone in that building , no response!! Took out my mobile to give a ring to my HR to check for alternatives; my cell battery was completely drained; I had forgot to switch off my mobile! I noticed my name on one of the poster on door saying room is allocated in another B&B which is next to couple of building. Walked to that address and knocked door, tried to shout to get anyone but it went vain, the owner has left to church after waiting for me for a long time. A delay in flight caused all mess. Huh!!
New place, new people, no clues as what next, I was wandering holding two heavy bags on those roads of Bradley Stoke, Bristol. Hardly could see any vehicle on roads, no people near by. I was just walking and walking. Telephone booth was visible at corner of one road, my lips broadened!! Hoping to call my HR from there and get all sorted. No pence with me, it was all £20 notes. Held the receiver, reading the instructions carefully to dial in using travel card but even that didn’t work out. My wandering continued, saw one white guy walking with his doggy. I approached him, explained about my situation and asked if he has change for £20. That situation didn’t even make me think that where I am, what I am doing! The country people use card for all transaction, how can I expect change for money!! He had few coins which summed up to only £5. He offered that to me, I was feeling uneasy to be in debt for first day in new country. I had no choice and decided to take money. I asked his name and phone number so that I can return his money next day, he told his name and walked away. I rushed to booth again with those coins, inserted coin and dialled in; to my bad luck that phone is not working at all. It’s almost 4hours of struggle. I was almost exhausted; still my eyes were alert, noticed someone familiar walking far away on the other end of road, sensing him to be Indian seeing his outfit. I just ran vigorously like athlete on track with those heavy bags and caught him. My guess was correct. He, my another colleague turned to be oasis for me. Before I talk anything, he told ‘are you Shilpa?, Your manager called (My husband had called my manager and made him enquire!!) and checking if you reached safely. Your family members are worried as your phone is not reachable‘ (I had arranged myself to have UK sim before travel).
He took me to B&B, got refresh, charged mobile and talked to my hubby. Then he took me to one of lady colleague house until I get key of my room in B&B. Met a pretty lady, had loads of talk, felt bit comfortable in new country, had good food at her house and returned back to room. She is still in contact with me and one among my good friends!!
Patience and optimistic thought will make any situation handle smoothly.