THE MOST UNUSUAL SOLO TRIP - THE START || PART 1 Skip to main content

THE MOST UNUSUAL SOLO TRIP - THE START || PART 1

I and my sister decided to visit Bhutan on the 24th of March for its international festival and trekking.  Bhutan hosts this beautiful international festival called Paro International Festival and I wanted to witness it. We had made all the reservations for flights and train but left the reservations of Hotels for on the spot booking. On the 24th morning, I arrived at the Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport and met my sister, all set to see the spectacular view of the festival that was being organised which looked just like this.


   
I expected to see people dancing on the roads, wearing traditional dresses and huge dragons on the way. But soon, my sister spoke the words that shattered all the above imaginations. She said, "I won't be able to go, I have some really urgent work in the company, I am really really very sorry". I was like what the hell? Why didn't you tell me before? She said the flights were non-refundable and still I thought we could hang around in Delhi. We could also book a hotel in Delhi. I had no idea what to say now. The departure time was still three hours away. We decided to eat something at the airport and then leave. While eating a sandwich I thought, Why can't I go alone? People do the solo trip all the time and I have heard really great things about going on a solo trip. I have heard they might become your best trips ever. That inspired me. So I made up my mind in a positive direction, or so as I thought. I decided to visit Bhutan on my own and witness the Paro Internation Festival. I decided to go on a solo trip. My first solo trip to a place all unknown, a new country. But soon it turned out a solo trip that no one can imagine.

      I had a 5.5kg bag pack. I could have taken it as a piece of carrying baggage in the flight or as check-in baggage. Normally I do not check-in as it is just some overtime headache. But an old lady came to me and asked how to check-in her luggage. It was the first time she was travelling. I told her about the process but she was confused. Therefore, I decided to check it in with her since the queue was very short and what's the harm? I could help the lady. The flight soon took off to Bagdogra and it was a really small airport. The infrastructure of the Bagdogra Airport was so bad that some of the Delhi metro stations are better than that. It was so small airport that I could see the flight standing in the back from almost 300 meters outside the airport on the road. I waited beside belt no. 1 on Bagdogra Airport for my bag. I waited and waited for it. Soon I saw there is nobody left beside me. Everybody had left. The belt stopped moving. I went to the belt manager and told him that my bag had not arrived from Delhi. They said it happens sometimes. Let me check. He went to the Flight and Cargo department. He returned empty-handed. He said to me, "Your baggage is not in the flight" and these were the words I was hoping not to hear. He took me to the cashier of Jet Airways. The cashier was just his designation, he used to do a lot of work that did not involve money. He enquired at the Delhi airport and told me that my bag was stopped in Delhi Airport because it had power bank in it.



     It came as a shock to me. The problem was not the clothes. The problem was not my phone charger. The problem was that my wallet was in my bag. I had 20 INR in my pocket and all of my money and cards were inside my wallet. It was a shock. I couldn't think of a place to live in a city I don't know anyone. The cashier completed the formalities and denied any compensation as per the Jet Airways rule. I did not even have the money to take an auto-rickshaw. I felt so helpless in a completely unknown city. I called my sister and told her about the situation. She booked an OYO for me but I did not have money to go to the hotel, no battery in my phone and no internet. That 1 hour passed so slowly, I couldn't believe when I watched my watch. It was a very long 1 hour. I somehow managed to convince one auto-rickshaw driver to take me to the hotel and promise him to pay back (although I did not know how but I told him I don't have any money with me). He was a very nice person. He took me to the hotel and asked the receptionist to lend me some money and also told him about my situation. The receptionist lent me the money and I promised him to transfer in his account as soon as I get my phone charged.

   The hotel name was Jagat Inn. The entrance of the hotel was really confusing. It looked like you are entering through a shopping mart (a very poor and old one) and the reception is one of the shops in the mart. The hotel was away from the reception. I did not expect anything from the hotel, I just wanted a bed and a charger. But to my surprise, it was a very nice hotel. It was just constructed and was so new that the paint job was still going on. What do you expect from a new hotel? Everything was working, everything was new, everything was more than expected. I quickly asked for the charger and lied on the bed. I did not know what to do, did not know how will I spend 6 days at this place. Still, I knew just one thing. I needed some sleep.




I woke up to the sound of a knock. Someone brought a charger for me. I plugged in the socket, switched it on and went downstairs. I have now arrived at this place, what the hell in exploring it? It was evening in Siliguri. I decided to visit the local market. It was the only thing that was "worth" watching. It was the first time I have arrived in West Bengal. As I went on the road, 90 out of 100 shops were cutting fishes and chicken openly. Everywhere I saw, I found fishes. Well, I had heard of this scene from friends but it was too much to watch. It would look like I am exaggerating but I have no choice, this is the truth, and yes it looks like I am making it up. The market was the most non-happening place I have ever seen in my whole life. It was so lame, I felt I have travelled 40 years back somewhere in Vietnam (although I have never visited Vietnam). I still do not understand why everyone shouts in the plainer areas of West Bengal. No one I saw talked peacefully to a stranger. A shopkeeper shouting at customer and customer is shouting back. I decided then and there, this must be my last night at this soul-sucking place. This had to be.

    I called the Jet Airways cashier many times but he did not pick up. So I tried to get familiar with the waiters and other people working in the hotel. They all were very young, less than 20 years of age and all were fed up with their life. Still, they would joke around and laugh at each other. The owner would shout at him, "Bring me water" and as soon as he turned his back the waiter would say to me, "Won't be drinkable for sure" and laughed. I laughed along with them. I never asked their name, nor did they asked mine but we talked for 5 hours straight sitting outside the reception. We laughed almost all the time. I had forgotten my situation for some time. I had forgotten I was in a city where very few people speak my language and I have nothing with me. All those things were digested with the cold drink and the laughter I shared with them. I walked inside my room then and they went home. I hoped to see at least 30% of charge but sadly my phone had just charged to 6% from 4% in 6 hours. The charger was not working correctly and it was too late to ask for another. I slept hoping for something better the next day.

   My sister's roommate Chandani lives in Gangtok, Sikkim around 80km from Bagdogra. Her father arranged 10000 INR for me and sent them through a taxi driver whose taxi number was 2333 as I still remember because I had to. I had no charge and my reception was on and off. At least, something was getting better. I paid to the hotel, shook hands with the waiters. They asked me to visit Bagdogra again and stay with them. I have no such plans but I would love to meet them once again. I called the same auto-rickshaw driver from the day before and went to the airport. It was not a shock to see that my bag had still not arrived. Still, it was in Delhi and still, it was under security area. He asked me to wait another day but also warned me that maybe the bag won't come tomorrow also. All my belongings were in the bag, I had nothing with me except my mobile. The cashier did whatever he could. He called and called everyone at the Delhi airport. He dropped a priority email to the airport authorities. He did everything he could but still he could gave me no guarantee. What to do now? Chandani's father invited me to his place. I thought, I really cannot stand to spend one more night at this lame and soul-sucking place. I checked my pockets, I had 10000 INR, what else do I need? I decided to leave for Gangtok. A place I always wanted to visit but never could. A place about which I had read in my tenth hindi textbook and left some memories in my mind. But wait, do you think everything is over? Well, adventure is about to start.

Comments

  1. A well-told tale of your unfortunate experience. That would have shaken even the most experienced traveller. Well done on turning a negative into a positive adventure...although it must have been pretty unnerving at the time. Looking forward to the next part.

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