While at Zurich International Airport
I want to write something. Something that I remember from older days. Something that I now laugh at while that made me cry then. And my journey out of India is what comes to my mind. We all have these moments where we were embarrassed, we were helpless, yet we overcame it and months later we think of it and laugh it off. Honestly, I have been wanting to write this for a long time and here it comes finally.
It was 28th of August 2007. I bid farewell to my family to fly to Canada, and Zurich was the first stop. At the check in I forgot to ask for an aisle seat and so I got crushed between two huge men. A Swiss and a Sardar. Huge bodies, and I looked tiny little girl looking for some space. The air hostess served food that was barely eatable. All the western food is not eatable initially but eventually you eat it and ‘develop taste’ for it. The two men ate a lot and then their bodies bulged asking for more room. With no choice left I asked the air hostess to give me a better place to sit and she gave a place next to another huge guy but was better since it was window seat.
Lightnings and thuderstorms were visible and we got turbulence. It scared me, and I closed my eyes hoping that it would stop the thunderstorms I could see. We flew nevertheless since we cannot land on clouds and there was no cloud no. 9. The cities of Europe was lighted up. All the colors – blue, red, orange, yellow…you could make geometric shapes out of them – lines, circles, squares and you could realize how neatly they were put up. Yet it did not appear beautiful. The element of belongingness lacked. It was my first lesson- it is not what you see around but it is what you feel around. I could smile and cover my nose with handkerchief walking along the stinking open gutter lines, and I would look at the empty skies, wait for traffic lights to turn white for pedestrians along the neatly cleaned pedestrian lane and feel nothing. Things that belong to us need no justification for their beauty.
Zurich was big, at least the airport was. I had 6 hours halt before boarding the next flight. I boarded a sky metro that swept in Nano-seconds to the waiting hall. And the first thing that came to my mind was to make a call home and all I had was US Dollars. It took me two whole hours to figure out how to make a call and it included dealing with a lady at the foreign conversion counter with horrible, never to be understood English.
“Hi, do you have calling cards?”
Once again, mumble-grumble.
“I am sorry”
Mumble-grumble again, this time with frustration.
Opps! time to go girl. I walk around, uselessly, hopelessly and then went back to counter to that heavily accented woman and got some swiss franks. I got a calling card, called back home after two whole hours, and I need not say how better it makes us feel. I talked and used all the 20 franks. Did you know that swiss franks are fancy looking ?
Suddenly I felt like eating. I wandered around and realized they took Dollars – Canadian and US both at same rate. Without regretting on the fact that I had lost 2.50 dollars in the conversion process, I asked for sandwich and orange juice, got swiss franks in return to use the internet. Sandwich was barely eatable. I wrote e-mails to my friends from a keyboard that had no “@” sign.
Few more hours, and I landed where I am now. Unaware of time, exhausted, and could barely carry my own purse. I wondered then, I wonder now with each passing day of loneliness -how worth is this choice that keeps you away from what makes you smile?