Oh, may I go a-wandering?

If anything can go wrong, it will! Once you accept this Murphy’s Law, life becomes simple. And so any journey.

When I was too young, may be in the 1st grade, instead of waiting for Auto (Rickshaw) to pick me up for school, I walked to school along with my neighbor friend (she was a couple of years older) happily. I could then run if I wanted to. I could pluck a flower. I could walk through mud and grass. I could cross a busy road without anyone holding me back (the reason I wasn’t allowed to walk to the school).

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

And last time I planned my journey for months – with the detailed list of items to carry, what to keep in check-in baggage and what not in handbag and so on, everything went for a toss! I missed my connecting flight. Not my fault… at least only I wasn’t at fault. I had only 1 hour in-between. Boarding gate generally closes around 30 minutes prior to departure. So I had approximately half an hour to get down from first plane and get into next.

And I didn’t have the superpowers to –

  • Quickly enter the airport from the plane
  • Bypass a queue just to show the ticket/passport and enter the next queue
  • Bypass people in the next queue busy checking and removing all the liquids from the luggage before getting into security check.I assured myself, “5 mins left to reach boarding terminal! There was no way I would make before gates were closed. But maybe they would wait, I can make it before departure time.”
  • Security check! Not just it took another 30 mins, but I had lost almost an hour I had!! My baggage was withheld for further check. Neither I nor anyone understood why, but I think artificial golden beads (in the parcel I was carrying for a friend who happened to be a tailor and that I moved to handbag at the last moment to adjust weights) were to blame! I re-assured myself – “5 mins left to departure. Hope they are waiting on me! Run girl. Run!” 
  • Find a way to terminal, get into the crowded lift, and catch next tube to the terminal
  • Locate the boarding gate, run and get in the queue again to board

I was at least 10-15 mins late to reach the boarding gate. No one announced my name. No one escorted me or waited on me. Poor me!

I had a hard time finding a way back to first terminal (no directions of course, who travels in the opposite direction?) and then the customer service office. I was first advised to wait for a day because ticket might be cheaper next day (400 or 420 pounds… does it make a difference?). And could I think of spending one night on the airport and also pay for the ticket? I didn’t have a visa to get into the country. And had no mobile connection (It didn’t work as claimed). Huh!

Finally I was adjusted in another flight scheduled 5-6 hours later. But my ticket wasn’t confirmed until an hour before departure keeping me worried till last moment. I don’t know if they realized their mistake or pitied on my condition (as I looked like I had just finished the marathon and was huffing, sweating, tired, but happy to have found customer service). I was so exhausted that I was as confused as Sridevi in’ English Vinglish’ movie when I wanted to buy water and was asked – “spring or sparkled?” Huh! What’s that? Give me some plain cold water!!

Does more planning ensure the merrier journey? Can surprises throw us back in a carefully planned journey as we expect them least? Or can the journey we didn’t even thought of taking brings in more joy, just like a little walk one was not to take?

It all just reminded me to be just a happy wanderer once in a while, a bit careless, a bit experimental, a bit novice… as one might then enjoy the journey more… always ready to be surprised!

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God’s clear blue sky!

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