Thursday, June 08, 2006

Going to India

Sunday, June 4

9:30 am Paris time, 3:30 am DC time, and I purposely did not sleep on the flight over. I’ll arrive in Delhi at 10:00 pm, which I think is like 11:30 am DC time. On my way to India for a quick two-day trip that seems ill-fated from the start. First, I decide to look for my passport on Wednesday, needing it Friday morning in order to get a visa from the Indian consulate. Go to the normal drawer where I keep it in my dresser – turn the thing upside down several times over to no avail, and head into work in a slight panic. I start to poke around to make sure that if I cannot find it when I return home that night, there will still be enough time to pull the rabbit from the hat, get the passport, and get the visa. My situation quickly becomes desperate, with several expediting services all but laughing at me, until one finally gives me a ray of hope at 3:30. If I have passport photos, my birth certificate, plenty of cash, and the necessary applications filled out and placed in a sealed envelope by the post office to their office by 5:30 pm, I’ll have a brand new passport early Thursday afternoon. So do I gamble that I can find the passport with a thorough search, or run around like an idiot for two hours assembling the necessary documents?

I choose the latter, because running around like an idiot comes more naturally to me, and call the Wife of Hatcher in a panic to ask that she deliver my birth certificate. As she’s en route, I head to the nearest passport photo place, three blocks away. The birth certificate is delivered and I head to the post office at Washington Square, arriving at 4:26. After an infuriating 15 minutes in line, I met with what I expect to be met with – a look of total confusion on the face of the post office worker, who tells me I’ll need to talk to a supervisor; like all post office supervisor, this one seems to prefer to do her supervising as far away from people as possible. After about five minutes I finally speak to her, and she informs me they only do the passport thing by appointment between 9 and 11, and that no one can validate the application now. So I am gambling after all. I am still an idiot, but at least I’m not running around like one.

I get home. Grab the axe out of the garage, contorting my face into my best Jack Nicholson Shining impersonation, and head for the dresser. Actually, I head upstairs and calmly start examining whether a document pushed out of the top drawer of the dresser could have fallen within the dresser itself. Sure enough, I am peeking under the skids of the drawer, when I see an old receipt. I see if I can reach for it with my fingers, and successfully jerk it out. As I do that, the passport comes into view. Alleluia! Lucky me, I win a trip back to New Delhi, no doubt to reunite with my old friend Monella, first name Sal.

Second incident, proving that choosing not to be cheap is sometimes (though rarely) a good decision. Rather than face the $2 ATM charge for using another bank’s machine in the airport, I hoped to go swing by the grocery store on the way to the airport to use the old check card to buy a penny candy and get the necessary cash without charge. Instead, because I am paranoid about missing my flight, I decide I’ll just get the money in the airport. In my wallet I have a spare house key to get back into the house, which I feel certain will trip every alarm in security and subject the Hatcher to his second full-scale proctological experience in his young life (many of you know the first), so I smartly tuck said wallet into my handy carry-on bike messenger bag. Wizz through security without incident, and trek the 5 miles of moving walkways to my terminal in Dulles to the nearest cash machine.

Check pocket – slight moment of panic – ah yes, now I remember, it is in my bag. Check various compartments of the bag. No luck. Slight panic ensuing. Rip out contents of said bag. More than slight panic ensuing. Leave my bags in the Air France lounge, and do the five mile trip back to security in record time for a guy in Reef flip flops (which replaced the still sorely missed Patagonias). First guy I ask knows exactly what I am talking about, and needs to find a supervisor to go retrieve my wallet from lost and found. The supervisor for airport security gets trained in the same way as those in the postal service, because it is another five minutes before anyone answers to the title.

I get my wallet back and head the five miles back to the Air France lounge in hopes that I can still do something crude in front of French people, like stuff as many free croissants into my shirt pocket as possible. So you see – if I were cheap, I would never have discovered the wallet falling out of the bag – and would have shown up in India without any money or credit. Of course that puts me in league with about a billion people there, but they don’t have reservations at the Trident Hilton. Lucky me, I am assured of going to India without any fear of having to work off my hotel bill, and so I am free while there to concentrate on my hourly offerings to the great Hindu god, Porcelain.

Now I am in the Air France lounge in Paris trying to anticipate and thus avoid the next disaster.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You would have been better off staying at home with a bottle of Chartreuse.

You're lucky that airport security didn't see you unattended bag in the Air France lounge and dispose of it as a suspected bomb. Then again, it was the Air France lounge.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

Losing your passport and your wallet? No surprise to me. Your skills with respect to immigration policy and fiscal discipline seem to be right in line with the average Republican.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous the_giant said...

Only other thing you could have done was lock the keys in the trunk while you were standing around in a wetsuit....

8:27 AM  
Blogger Memoryking said...

Liked your blog. Here is mine "No! Let’s join the self-proclaimed snobs protesting with slogans “Remember your place”, polishing shoes and cleaning premises? Let’s pretend not to see it at all! Damn Reservations!"

1:40 AM  

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