Sunday, May 15, 2011

The long haul

It all started on a Friday morning at 6 am, when my colleagues and I set off to the airport to catch a flight to San Francisco. We were all very excited about this trip and it had very little to do with the conference we were supposed to attend. We were all very chatty in the cab and kept talking all the way until, my colleague realized she hadn’t brought our conference posters. (These posters are basically research presentations that grad students like us present at conferences and the very reason why we get funds to go) By the time we realized this though, we were so close to the airport and we didn't have the time to make a trip back again.

My colleague called someone and asked him to get the poster to us at the airport. That smart person though, didn’t want to make a trip to the airport and put our posters on a cab and asked the cabbie to deliver it to the airport. I find it strange that the cabbie agreed to do this because if he was late, we would have left and he would be stuck with some posters and no fare. Anyway, the poor cabbie sped all the way to get to us just in time before the check-in gates closed. You see, we couldn’t hand-carry these poster-tubes. They look like some kind of weapons. So, we had to check them in.

And then, we had to run to board our flights. And when we were at immigration, we saw these excruciatingly long queues of people. Turns out that the automated system was down and only manual immigration was possible. This almost never happens in Singapore. After requesting a few kind people, we moved ahead and then ran all the way to our boarding gates. We were the last people to board the flight. In the end, whew, we made it!

When we reached Hong Kong, the flight kept circling around the airport for half an hour. It seems they didn’t get clearance to land or something like that. And we had a connecting flight to catch in an hour. Guess what, the mad rush started all over again. We made it by the skin of our teeth. But yay, we made it.

After all this, I was really tired. After almost losing my conference notes, almost missing my flight, I found myself sitting next to a cranky old lady on the long haul flight. It must have easily been the longest flight of my life and add to it, some really bad weather. The worst turbulence I’ve experienced, ever! At one point, I almost said my last prayers, thinking to myself ..."What a way to die!".

When we landed in SFO, it was then that I realized that it was Friday, the thiteenth. I am not a superstitious person but after what happened all day, I would have believed anything. But thank God, it was over now. But then, wait a minute I travelled the whole day and when I land in the USA, its still Friday the thirteenth! and only morning at that. The whole day is ahead of us. Oh boy, has it been a really long day!!

After flying for 19 hours straight, I really dread the flight back. Thank God that I'm gonna be here for a while. I didn't think I would be jet lagged and SO jet lagged at that. My friends are fast asleep and I don’t feel sleepy at all. I am amazed by how little sleep I can get away with and still remain functional.

I am still up at 4am. I have not slept a wink since we got here and it has been 42 hours since I got here. It's amazing that I'm still functional after that. Do forgive me if this post makes no sense at all. I'm sleep-deprived and can't think of anything else to do!!

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