I know I haven’t blogged for a long time, I successfully came to University of Waterloo and completed my first term here. In this blog post, I want to share my first flight experience. My first few days in Canada are very cinematic.
First flight experience is unforgettable for any one. I still remember everything in minute detail, it seems like yesterday I boarded flight in Hyderabad. Time flies very fast during masters.
I chose to fly by Jet Airways since there’s a direct flight from Delhi to Toronto and it allows one additional baggage of 23 kgs for students, so I will get 3 X 23 kgs of luggage. I made a travel plan to travel along my prospective roommate :P. So, we both planned to book tickets on same flight, he informed me that he booked ticket for Aug 28th flight from Delhi and so I did same. I booked flight ticket on 27th morning from Hyderabad to Delhi and endure 19 hours layover for next flight to Toronto from Delhi on August 28th so as to fly along with him. I had to chose this option because to avail the extra baggage offer, I need to be in jet operated flights. Now here comes a twist, 3 days before travel date I made a call to my roommate to discuss about what packing, taking a cab from airport and plans for first few days in Canada before University begins,somewhere in the middle of the conversation he mentioned that he will book cab on 29th aug from Toronto to Waterloo and I said we are reaching on 28th and then we found out we made a mistake of assuming that we are travelling together, he booked flight on aug 28th from Cochin and from Delhi to Toronto flight on Aug 29th and I exactly booked the same flight but a day before. So now I was travelling alone. This is shock number 1 .
Now here comes another twist, when I was booking ticket in Jet office, the staff mentioned that my travel is through check-in and I do not have to worry about my luggage once I check-in in Hyderabad, but three days before when I called customer service to inquire about some flight related service they mentioned that since the gap between flights is more than 12 hours it would not be through check-in and I would have to take my luggage in Delhi and check in again, this was a huge pain for me since the first thing is I do not know anyone in Delhi, so I have to sit 19 hours in the airport and sitting in airport with 3 X 23 bags of luggage sounded horrible. I was so irritated and wrote complaint mails to all the jet email addresses I could find online. Five hours before my travel, I got call from Jet employees apologising and since the mistake is on their side, they will make my travel as through check-in for me and to contact the jet airways counter before checking in form Hyderabad.
Tired and weakened emotionally that I am leaving all my family,friends I reached airport. I still remember the last moments in Hyderabad, We reached 40 mins earlier and this 40 mins is the most emotional period I have ever experienced in my life. I never stayed in hostel or away from my parents, I always had comfort of home and was always with a close knit of friends, going to MS seemed like an adventure. I was so filled with sadness, fear, a bit of excitement and every emotion that had a word in english dictionary. Finally, I left my parents and friends outside airport strongly covering my tears and entered airport. After all the security checks I was finally in the plane, I never travelled by air so this is a new experience, when the flight took off, it burdened my heart and I felt like I am leaving some part of my soul in Hyderabad, a place where I lived all my 21 years of life . When the flight finally reached Delhi and passengers started getting down there was an announcement “Mr.Bolisetti, there is someone …… luggage….” thats all I could hear and immediately I became so nervous thinking about why this announcement came ? what happened ? am I going to be detained ? (seems so silly now :P) I was literally scared then it turned out to be one of the jet airways employee accompanied by his attendant who came to respond on the complaint I gave, she enquired about everything that happened and said that they would arrange through checkin for me. So now in Delhi I had 19 hours, 19 painful hours. I initially thought to go out with my roomie but that plan failed. I took a lounge in nap and massage paying 5 thousand for 6 hours (Ah! what a waste of money) so to sleep for few hours since the I wasn’t able to sleep from two days before. The lounge here turned out to be absolute waste of money, they kept AC so cold I got some throat pain which irritated me for 10 days after. The rest 11 hrs, I spent some how in airport roaming around, skyping my parents and friends and eating out. Finally, I boarded the international flight after all the security checks and customs.
Now here comes the big twist, before we left India we booked a room online for our stay in Waterloo for a lease of 1 year. The lease officially begins on Sep 1st 2013, but before booking tickets we asked the landlord if we could come couple of days earlier and he agreed to it. One week before our departure we got a mail from landlord saying that he sold house and the transfer of ownership is on end of August so he cannot give possession of the house before the lease begins. So we (I and my roomie) started hunt for temporary accommodation (There’s no ISA like things in UWaterloo since not lot of Indians were here), finally there’s 5 other girls who booked 5 room town house and 3 of them were reaching a day before us so they said we can occupy the other 2 rooms since the other girls were coming after a week or so. I took their address and came straight to their place after clearing customs and immigration in Toronto Pearson Airport and found the place is locked. The cab left after I unloaded luggage, I thought initially that they might be inside sleeping because of the long journey they had and knocked the door for 15 minutes continously, but no one answered. I waited outside for one hour, knocking the door after every five minutes and nothing happened. I started to realize there’s something wrong, I was so sure I reached the correct address (at least the address they gave me) . I checked and rechecked the address (keeping in mind what happened in booking flight tickets) before I left India. After a 3 day long journey with a tiring 22 hours layover (19 hrs in Delhi and 3 hours in Brussels) I was not in a mood to take any surprises or do any adventure, I just wanted a place to sleep and not to mention I was starving because I hated the food they served in flight and so didn’t eat much. I waited there for one more hour and some passing by Canadian asked me what I was doing sitting on steps with this much luggage, I told that I was waiting for my friends and I just came from India. I don’t know if I looked so dead or so he gave me 2 apples he was having asking me to eat so as I can regain some energy and showed me apartment office telling that they might help. So I left a note near doorstep saying that I came and I waited for you and I will be in apartment office, so if you guys come please come to apartment office.
I went to apartment office leaving all my luggage at the doorstep, I explained that I came from India and found the place I wanted to go was locked. They were so shocked like asking me how could I come to another country without knowing anyone and without having a confirmed accommodation, I explained whole story to them that I came from India, I had an accommodation but the lease starts from sep 1st and these people offered me a place to stay temporarily blah blah… they said no one contacted the office about the place i was hoping to stay and they were unsure if it was occupied by then. I waited in the apartment office for about 4 hours starving and literally praying i find some place to sleep. The apartment office should be closed by 5:00 but because of me they waited till 7:00 and I was checking the place every 15 minutes if anyone came. Finally the apartment manager took me to an Indian restaurant driving nearly 10 miles from that place to feed me. I was moved by the friendliness and the ready to help nature these Canadians had, I ate happily and paid the bill though he protested and we both came back to check finally if they still came and I found that no one there. The manager was so kind he offered me a place to stay in his home for that night, I said like no, I cannot trouble you so much and asked him to leave me in university instead so I can find something there. Then his exact words were “No, I cannot leave you, you look so tired and you seem very new to this country, you are a guest to my country and I just cannot leave you like that”, I was so moved and accepted his offer to go to his place that night. He made two trips to the apartment office from the place I left my luggage to transfer my luggage to the office garage, two trips were needed because my luggage wasn’t able to fit in his car. Then he took me to his home, gave me a new towel so that I can take a shower, and gave me his son’s room since his son is out of town, I slept there happily for about 8 hours and he made me breakfast which I ate happily after which he drove me back to the apartment office. Now I found a note left for me near apartment office doorstep.
So why they were not there is another interesting story. They also came by same flight I came but the previous day, they reached Waterloo at 6:00 in evening so they assumed I would come by that time next day, but I came at 3:00 and they didn’t set their clocks to Canadian time since they just arrived and everything was in Indian time, it turned out they left home at 2:30 hoping to come back by 6:00 and went to university. The tricky thing here is they didn’t realize its 8:30 because the days during August in Ontario,Canada will be very lengthy. Sun starts to set at 8:30 or 9:00 its same like 6:00 in India and they were a bit lost too since they were confused with routes and all. When they came back and found the note, they were so tensed and overcome with guilt, they searched all over the place like nearby restaurants for me and found my luggage kept safely in apartment office (it was visible from window). So they came to conclusion that I was somewhere safe and waited for me to come. After staying with them for first few days I moved back to my place.
If you like this blog post, please do comment. I developed a writers block after I started my Masters. I learnt a lot in my first term here and I am hoping to write more posts about my experience in masters and some tips how you can start preparing from India. Your encouragement now helps me more than ever to get rid of my writers block.