Saturday, September 18, 2010

Some times it happens

Wedneday evening 7 pm I left for KL Airport like I have left before for the 8:55 pm flight. I know it's a bit a late, but sometimes it happens. I was hoping to be lucky like I have been a few times before. This was not to be one of those times. Reached airport at 9:15 having struggled and juggled through the traffic. Even though I did not want to go to the check-in counter, I still checked once to make sure I am not lucky - I was not.

Went down to the ticket counter to get the next morning ticket. I got 1547 token number, 1536 was running. I felt comfortable, after all it was just 10 people. Comfort was short lived. 30 mins gone and it was still 1540. At last at 11 pm, I get a shot at the counter. Well only a shot, the not so polite lady on the counter tells me - debit cards not accepted. Yes, the same debit card using which I bought my previous ticket on-line. But, no means no. Credit card already running over limit, I had no choice but to withdraw cash. My hard earned turn to get my ticket disappears. I go out looking for cash. No, not begging, i mean withdraw cash from ATM. With my prepaid travel card running on 0 balance I used my personal debit card to withdraw cash. Even though first ATM did not work, second did. I finally get a ticket for myself. By this time there was a brit guy hung with me, who was passing by KL for first time and is willing to just follow my plans for the night to stay in any near by hotel due to lack of any other information. As if I was a local.

With my limited knowledge I head to Tune hotels opposite to airport. These are similar to AirAsia - low cost. So I thought it would be good to experience these. But, I was late here too. No rooms! The girl on the counter, politer than the ticket girl, shows me a room next to the counter, where I could try my luck. In my search for a good night sleep, I take a shot at that option as well. To find that the hotel is about 25 minutes away by Taxi. The brit chickened out in fear of going away from the Airport. I braved my heart. This girl asked me for 100 Malaysian Ringitts for a back and forth Taxi drive between airport and hotel. But, did not accept any card either. Being 12:15 by now I agree. I step out of the room and use the ATM machine in front of me. But, by now this ATM machine had joined hands with other forces up aginst me. It declined both my debit cards. Searching my bag I pull out my last 100USD and ask the lady for an exchange. She directed me to the coffee shop. With my last 400 odd Ringitts and hotel rent to be paid, I chicken out too and walk back to airport.

To make some calls to update people about my missed flight and late arrival next day, I recalled those boxes hanging on the walls called payphones. I did not have a choice having lost my personal SIM and not having a local number. Bought a prepaid card to make the call. The instruction said, 'insert with the chip facing down' and I followed. But, the stupid box did not follow. After struggling to make calls for next 20 mins, i call for expert help from the shopkeeper who sold me the pre-paid card. He came in and turned the card over and dialled. It started rininging. You see prior experience helps over theoretical knowledge. It was a caller tune playing. First time I liked caller tunes, because they were like a hope to me that something is working. Only for 10 seconds! Caller tone stoped and no voice from other side. I call a few more times for that 10 second happiness. But then practice and patience both paid after 30 minutes of mission pay fone. At last at 1 in the night I finally connect for whole lot of 3 minutes and run out of balance - after all the ledendry 'pay phone' was not cheap enough. I give up and go looking for space for the rest of the night.

McDonalds - my supporter at all times, supported me for the whole night as well. After my laptop ran out of battery I changed my seat to find one near the socket. A few more like me were hanging around the powerful place. Opposite to me, a Korean girl, diagonally on adjacent table, a Malaysian dude and opposite to him and next to my table, an Indonesian girl.

While I continued working through my night, killing my time with some weekly reports, updates and boring document reviews, the girl next to my table was not able to figure how to power her laptop with non-matching pins of her powerplug. I helped her with a spare converter I had. A few hours later I see the Malaysian dude even adding that the girl in facebook, not that the girl was a babe for me to feel jealous of him. As a friendly gesture he asked me too if I was present on facebook. I could only answer politely "yes, but I do not use often". As a token of thanks for sharing that conveter, this girl gave me and that Malaysian guy a Belgian chocolate each. That too not the small ones, big ones like those Bourneville's we find in India and asked where I was from. 'India' I said. She said "oh you know 3 Idiots, very very good. I think very intelligent". I answer, yes I know with a smile as if I directed and produced. Then she said "and Slumdog millionaire". I say yes again, hoping she is not going to ask another one now. Finally picking her bags up, she said "and Aisswarya Rai, very very beautiful".

Finally at 7 in the morning with a few coca colas gulped, time arrived for me to not miss the flight now and I reach the check-in counter. Even though the day was over, some things did not seem to have changed - attitude of electronic devices on the airport against me. Check-in counter girl tells me, my credit card was declined for this ticket so payment not done. Yeah, you read up there that I paid cash to AirAsia. I said the same to her too. But, her system does not agree. Well her supervisor's did. I guess all systems wanted to have their say.

At last I get a boading pass, hop the plane and fall asleep to wake up when it landed again.

Thank God, it happens only sometimes.

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