“We will meet again at our new abode, soon we shall begin our new journey together,” the newlywed groom said smilingly as he lovingly looked at his teary-eyed bride and departed to resume his job.

In her longing to see her husband, dreaming to commence the new phase of her life, her eyes and fingers paced up and down the inbox of her email searching for every notification and replying to emails concerning her visa process. It went for about one month and finally her passport was stamped with Schenegan’s visa and within a few hours of stamping, she got her tickets booked. Though excited the very idea of taking her first flight, that too to a foreign land and all alone definitely set butterflies free in her stomach. The moment she left her family members right at the entrance of the international airport and set her feet inside the airport, she could feel the cold sweat drenching her palms.

The big display boards with counter numbers for the respective destination flights, the bustling rush, slippery floors – these are the first few things that welcomed her. She sighed and kept on praying to God that nothing untowardly shall happen. She found the exact counter she must line up at with her luggage and ticket. And she saw the first travel demon lurking around her. One certain passenger had to put off a considerable chunk of their luggage aside as the scales weren’t ready to embrace the same. And the bride here was all tensed as she wasn’t going for a holiday trip but to begin her life afresh and that accounts for loads of shopping tapped in her suitcase. It was her turn, she handed over her ticket and passport to the lady at the counter and placed the luggage on the conveyer belt. Mission passed to her greater relief and she was handed over the gate number along with the boarding pass.

Now it was time for an immigration check. This phase of her maiden journey ended in a lighter mode. The officer at the desk looked into her documents and asked details in a casual tone like where she was headed to, what was the purpose, and so on. When she mentioned her marriage and husband, the officer cracked a joke to lighten up things for the bride “Saiyan Pardes Chale Gaye aapko chodkar yahan” (your beloved went abroad leaving you here) as he stamped the passport. To this, the girl smiled and nodded in denial and moved on from there. Stage two crossed.

By this she was thirsty. She went to one of the stores, just to make a frightening discovery – airports are the leaders when it comes to pricing the products whom the multiplexes ardently follow. She purchased a tiny bottle of water and made an exit and waited for her turn to board the flight at the gate. It was night, around 2PM, as she waited anxiously; a woman arrived and asked if she could keep a watch on her bag for a moment while she goes to the washroom. This question set alarm bells ringing in the bride’s head. Out of many directives given to her by her husband, one was not to accept any request to look after the baggage from any stranger. It simply meant it’s ok not to trust anyone in the wake of ugly things that could happen in such a landscape. The bride felt tongue-tied yet nodded in affirmation. As she saw the women leave her seat, she seated herself a bit far from the bag, in a manner where she could keep an eye yet not so close to the baggage itself. Her chants were on the re-run again. She was relieved once the woman came back.

Around 2:45 or 3AM an announcement was made and the boarding commenced. The bride and the other passengers were welcomed with a wide grin pasted on their faces from the Jet Airways Staff (yes Jet airways were fully operational then before being cash strapped and leaving thousands jobless and in misery). Now the bride was seated, safety instructions were given and the flight took off. In her maiden flight to the offshores, the girl was overtly conscious, about how to ask help from the attendants, how to plug in and play the entertainment system on-board, how to eat without being or feeling awkward, how to get off her place without her co-passenger feeling being disturbed and how to caress her painful legs in such a little space. Somehow things she passed off eight and half hours before the flight touched the ground. Her maiden flight has come to a halt (not the journey yet) and the experience was memorable though nothing remarkable happened.

She had to yet reach her destination (her groom), crossing all the routine hurdles. The foreign faces and language made her nervous but her first-hand experience of boarding the flight spoke to her – follow your signs carefully and you are home. So she did so and was soon greeted by her groom at the exit gate waving at her, ready to take her luggage as well as her responsibility. “You look beautiful,” he said to her as he embraced her tightly (though the girl didn’t feel the same about herself after such a long journey) and made her blush.

After 12 years of that first flight, that bride is a mother to two beautiful kids, leading a happy life, jumped up in glee as the Candles proposed this week’s topic – Frist Travel Alone Experience. Every “first time” has its charm and relevance. No matter what kind of experience we gain – beautiful or woeful, doing things for the first time always impart important lessons for a lifetime. What this journey could have taught that bride – Unless you move out of your comfort zones and face things unless you talk about the issues at hand (she did ask her co-passenger about how to plug in the entertainment system on board), there’s no learning or growing up. And there are many instances and occasions in life where we have to take the charge all alone.

That bride was me then 😉


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