At airport, it was an all new process for me as I have never traveled abroad before. I had already collected some information from my friend Sankar on what are the procedures there. I tried my level best, not to show that I don’t know something (as always). There was a long queue for those refugees going back to Lanka. So, we non-refugees were moved to an all new boarding counter. This helped to finish the boarding pass thing quickly. Filled up the embarkation slip and moved to emigration counter. There was quite a long queue because of the next few departing flights to Bangkok, Malaysia and Middle east. My flight was scheduled to depart at 12:30. I was in no hurry as it was only 10pm. Got the first seal on my passport there. At security check they did not allow me to take a bottle of water. The lady at the security post removed the bottle’s lid and asked me, to drink water now and dispose the bottle there itself, as they will not allow to take water inside. I was surprised to hear that. What is there in a bottle of drinking water!
Another officer asked me to open the bag. I kept my passport on a table and showed the content of my bag. There was a Tamil family coming behind me who were caught for taking some illegal medicines. They were took to some other room for further checking… oilah! I had seen this kind of scenes only in movies. I became more vigilant on my bag. I quickly packed it up and cleared the spot. Only after going a little far, I realized, my passport and boarding pass were missing. I ran back like a mad man in that lobby and I saw it on the table. I slowed down. Nicely picked it up and went back. An old man sitting near that table smiled at me! Oops! My first trip would have become my last trip as well!
An announcement came- SpiceJet to Colombo is delayed by 30 minutes… santhosham. I was thinking about that just a few moments ago and it happened. I took that time to recharge my mobile phone. At around 12:45am, we got the announcement to board the aircraft. As in a wedding feast, everyone were running towards the boarding gate. I too waked towards the gate. I expected a queue there, but could see a group of people raising their tickets and passport to the ground staffs as if they are in some fish market! Dear Indians… Please. There were a lot of foreigners there. I was thinking about what they will think about other Indians. When I looked in to the crowd, to my shock there were many foreigners in that crowd. Theory here is – Survival of the fittest. Guy at the front was shouting – “Thalli nillungappa… ellaarukkum seat undu”. How sweet na?! Ghrr!
Waited at the rear end of the crowd to get this mess over. Another old man was also standing near me. The same guy who was smiling at me in the passport event! He advised me to be careful with the passport. He suggested to put it in some plastic cover and carry it in my pant pocket. It looked a good idea. I followed him there itself. After all the mess, I walked into the aircraft through an aerobridge. Another first time experience.
This was the first time I was traveling in a Boeing (737) aircraft. All my previous travels were either in Airbus A320 or in ATR72-500. But the fact was I was not able to differentiate an Airbus and a Boeing. I found it only when I was looking through the safety manual. I just relaxed and was thinking about my plan in next two hours. My plan was to travel from Negombo (where the airport is) to Colombo in the first available bus and catch the next train from Colombo to Kandy. As an alternate plan, I thought I will see the possibility of a direct bus to Kandy rather than adding a 40KMs going to Colombo. Hoping everything to be fine. I waited for the flight to take off. In next few minutes a few guys came in and started heated arguments with the Crew members for their seat numbers. These trio are said to be booked ticket together, to sit together. And one of the seat number has got duplicated with another passenger. That passenger is not willing to change his seat and these trio were not ready to part apart. Arguments heated up and ground staff came in. They simply told that, if you want, sit in the seat we are allotting for you. Or else, get out of the plane. I think, with this, they were satisfied and sat down calmly! At last, SpiceJet SG001 Boeing 737 Jet aeroplane to Negombo (Katunayake) Bandaranaike International Airport from Chennai Anna International terminal took off from the ground.
In exactly 1hr 5mins, we landed in Negombo International Airport.
Surprises waiting for me at Negombo! What is that?
[Image courtesy: http://www.allamericanpatriots.com/files/images/jet-takeoff.jpg]