I have yet to recover from the horror which was our departure from Goa, India after a year.
In theory, it should have been smooth (if bittersweet) sailing: bags were packed (ahem...solely by me...all bloody 13 of them), our friend from London sat up and kept us company on our front porch until the taxi came at 3:30am, and our landlady got out of bed to trudge outside and wish us good-bye (despite us losing her only extra house key after Dumpie upended my entire handbag on the beach one night several weeks ago.)
At any rate, there was no foreshadowing of the trauma which was to befall us for the next twelves hours:
*We would be informed one hour before take-off in Goa that our luggage limitations had changed in the twelves months since our outward journey - meaning that the 240 kilo's we were allowed to bring out had shrunk to a more modest 184 kilo's. Whoops.
*We would be checked-in by a total (ahem) female of the bovine persuasion who immediately took a dislike to me and I to her (she had beady eyes and I had not slept or eaten in 24 hours)
*We would be told that our excess charges amounted to £500, payable in local currency or credit card. Gulp. As if. I made a (panicked) executive decision and promptly emptied a bag containing exactly half of my clothes onto an empty conveyer belt. In full view of a crowded airport I could only mourn my loss for mere moments before the husband anxiously informed me that our flight was due for take-off in twenty minutes and we were on the verge of missing our flight. That was the last I ever saw of my skirts, bathing suits or knickers. (Much to my horror, I discovered upon our return that had I only had the sense to cull my book and magazine collection - numbering 32 and 9 respectively - I may have been able to save my wardrobe. And I call myself a fashionista...)
*We would be escorted speedily to the plane by two airline staff with only moments to go - one ironically being the check-in lady, who now looked pitifully upon the self-same lunatic who had publicly dispensed with her wardrobe like so much rubbish, and had cut her hand in two places as a result of frantic open-air repacking, and was now bleeding all over her small child's hand which she now had in a vice grip. She actually went off and produced two plasters - hardly meeting my eye as she did so.
*I would lose my laptop to an overzealous airline employee who forgot to collect it with the rest of my carry on luggage as we were propelled through the last security gate before plane entry. I was to discover this moments before take off, strapped in and close to tears. My laptop was a mere four months old. It was an Apple Macbook Pro. I was inconsolable by this point.
*At Mumbai airport, checking in for our transferring flight to London, I would discover that in my sleep and food deprived state I had accidentally packed my temporary passport which contained my Indian visa. I was informed that without this, I would not be allowed to leave the country. I would realise that I possessed not a flicker of recollection of even packing it, and that it could be in any one of the eight bags which now rested somewhere amongst millions of passengers suitcases somewhere deep down in the bowels of Mumbai Airport cargo - having been transferred automatically from Goa. On the other hand, it could also be buried among the pile of clothing castoffs which now littered a conveyor belt back in Goa airport. Oops.
*Near tears, I would pointlessly plop down on the concourse floor, frantically emptying all our hand luggage for the millionth time, in the vain hope that the passport in question would fall out - Egg sympathetically rubbing my back while Dumpie was taking up a mantra of, "You are pretty Mama...you are lovely...you are so pretty Mama..." Meanwhile I would try to hold off a burgeoning anxiety attack whilst blindly wondering whether I would be spending a week in Mumbai by myself while the rest of my family continued on to the States without me.
*I would be ordered by Immigration staff to in turn order airline staff to remove all eight pieces of our luggage from the gigantic hold down below. I would then be escorted all through the warren-like hidden passages which make up Mumbai airport by a non-English speaking airline employee and security guard, in order to hopefully procure the missing passport. Having been unfortunately clad in super low-rise jeans I would create quite a spectacle a short while later, on my hands and knees on the pavement, rifling through five of our eight suitcases while a small army of fascinated cargo employees looked on. I would be suddenly informed during examination of suitcase five that due to security reasons, it would be the last suitcase I would be allowed to open. I freaked...and stared in disbelief moments later when i gazed down to find the passport in question hidden in paperwork at the bottom of the case. I held it aloft triumphantly.
*We would have our bulkhead seats replaced with those one row behind bulkhead, where unfortunately, for the duration of the ten hour day flight back to the UK, not one but two babies would keep up a constant stream of crying, whining, and defecating - cheered on by a mother excitedly (and inexplicably) waving about a loud sleigh bell. I kid you not. (If further proof were needed that our entire trip had been cursed, three out of four of our seat back tv's were busted...meaning the monsters had nothing to entertain them throughout the journey, and would subsequently spend the entire time torturing the husband and I in various ways until we seriously contemplated ending it all.)
*Finally arriving in the UK after a hellish sixteen hours of travel, we would 'lose' Dumpie in baggage claim as he went barrelling away up the 'up ramp' as bleary-eyed (and possibly certifiable by this point) we searched the conveyor belt for our luggage. Unable to find him we would be mortified to spot him coming down the escalator a short while later, accompanied by a severe looking official, holding his hand and sternly surveying the assembled masses, wondering which horrific parents were responsible for such gross neglect. I helpfully presented myself to him at once, having to undergo a humiliating public telling off, produce our passports yet again, and all the while keep myself from glaring at Dumpie who was innocently gazing up at me without even a flutter of regret tainting his cherubic little features.
You can understand how after a journey like that, we were overcome with such sheer joy and relief as to want to fall prostrate in devotion at my sisters feet an hour later after a (praise be!) uneventful taxi ride into central London where we were welcomed with open arms into Auntie Mo's beautiful flat for a surprise home made dinner complete with candles and wine, and beds made up especially for us to sink our weary, defeated bodies into.
Thank God for sisters. We would live to see another day it seems.
(Is this a foreshadowing of things to come as we re-enter so-called 'normal life'??)