Friday, February 01, 2008

How to lose your identity and get it back!

You have got to enjoy certain things in life,no matter the situation it puts you in. There are the times when unusual patterns emerge in life and one such time is when I travel by air. The first time I came to the U.S, bombs were discovered on the aircrafts at the London airport. This time when I went back to India for the break, the day I was travelling, Ms.Bhutto was assasinated. My mom got freaked out when they announced that my flight was late (though she didn't realise it was by 20 mins). So, I expected something or other would have happened when I came back to the U.S again. Expected serious faces and tightened security measures at the JFK airport. When I disembarked, I was surprised to see a very quiet immigration and customs area. Guess ours was the only flight that landed that Monday afternoon. Ok,just when you think one flight journey has been completed where there was no drama, it happens.

I clear the customs and immigration, pickup my luggage, board the air train to the Jamaica station. I pick up a train schedule and want to put it in my backpack and thats when I realise, its GONE! Among other things, the backpack contained my passport, I-20, laptop, cellphone and the key to my apartment(thats worth more than $150 now if you happen to lose it). Now, I am a just a noone who has no identity whatsover in this country. Pretty scary, huh!

Good thing about the U.S and especially about New Yorkers is, they are very friendly and helpful. I talked to the lady at the ticket counter and also the lady whose job is to usher the people who arrive at the Jamaica station with where to stay,what ticket to buy etc.They just get the colour of the bag from me and what kind of bag it was(thats all they asked for. Nothing about the contents) and call the authorities at the JFK on the walkie talkie. Technology comes to the use as well. They just press the emergency button and you can communicate to the person at the other end. Yours truly had left the bag on the air train terminal at the airport. Someone had picked it and kept it safe and they all were expecting me to contact. The lady allows me to board the air train for free now. I go back to the airport again and there is someone waiting there just for me so that he can hand the bag over. 'Ah, the laptop bag, huh?',the man asks me.He also said that he was expecting me to return in the next train itself and get the bag back but I realised it a good 30-45 min since I left it at the airport. Those were few scary moments of my life. I don't even know whats the procedure to get a new passport here, to get a visa, new I-20. Probably, that would have meant I go back to India again. I don't know how I would have done that without a passport. On top of that I would have lost my cellphone and my laptop. In the end, everything was intact in that bag, Red and 'black' bag. Emphasis on black because, everyone who helped me to get my bag back were all African Americans: The lady at the reservation counter at Jamaica, the lady who was the usher at the Jamaica station and the man waiting at JFK with my bag.

Phew, that ends the story of one more 'incident' filled air trip!

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Blogger Goldfather said...


Don't travel by air again.

Even if you had to travel, alert the governments of all countries to increase their security against terrorists. and most importantly, be careful to not loose your baggage.

February 11, 2008 5:22 PM  

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