You know, I really thought this would be one wonderful trip. Counting them all together, this would be my 6th international tour. Of course, like every other time, I was scared of meeting a new client and making new mistakes 😱😜. But I was still excited as this is a short trip to a new city in South Africa and I’m going to meet the client that I’ve been dealing with for the past 1 year. It is through this client that I got to know some wonderful women that I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to and working with. Each of them so different yet so similar in their strengths. They are people I aspire to be.
And when I was in this excited but nervous as hell state of mind, just one day before Day 0, things started piling up.
First among the lot is the ticket booking process itself. This is my first time booking an international flight on my own and my priority was to comfortably reach Capetown by Sunday and rest well before getting back to work. As a result of that, I happened to choose a very pricey flight which just made me feel really guilty. It took me a while to get used to the consequences of that choice of mine where I was my main priority. It took me a day but eventually I was fine with that choice but little did I know that it was just the beginning.
The new prospective client that I was working with since a month, suddenly decided to come down to our office and finalize our POC requirements. That too at the end of the week when I’m supposed to leave. It was one hell of a Thursday with that client and it was almost half past one on Friday when we’re done preparing their solution base. By then, I had asked my boss atleast a hundred times for permission to skip the next day’s meetings and take a day off for travel preparation. He finally said yes and I was just about to leave when I happened to notice that my visa only permitted 20 days of stay in South Africa but my booking is done for 23 days. By that time, I have already done my web check-in and this news came as a rude shock. It was a struggle to get that changed to fit in my visa permitted limit. So finally after endless option evaluation, we were able to prepone the return flight. But that was at an added charge.
And after that, I thought my troubles were now over and my trip finally started. But nah, little did I know how gravely mistaken I was! After a hectic day of endless chores and tasks, I was finally at the airport at around 12:30 for a 4 am flight. For the first time in my life, I was 3.5 hours early for a flight and yet I couldn’t board it. Yeah, they said that there was some issue with the booking and my ticket had been cancelled. Yet, no one, not the airline or the travel company, no one thought of informing me. Instead, I was provided with a ticket copy and a boarding pass. Remember, I did the check-in before my 2nd disaster. My 2nd disaster is the reason to my 3rd. At the airport, while I was waiting with my loaded bags to do my check-in formalities, I was told that I had no flight to catch! The flight my office paid a bomb for, the flight I cancelled client meetings for, the flight that made me take a day off after pleading my manager for like a thousand times, the flight I spent an entire day prepping for, was just not there anymore. I was standing at that travel company kiosk waiting for the guy over the counter to talk to me and staring at the very real possibility of a trip cancellation. After 2 hours of endless discussions that seemed like forever, I was finally told that it might be their mistake and the update done to my earlier booking might have knocked off one of the connecting flights due to which my booking became kindoff useless. I was asked to wait until 3 in the morning until the flight boarding closes to confirm that there’s no seat on the plane, which turned useless. It was around 4 when the travel kiosk guy confirmed my new flight tickets late at night on the same day, some 12 hours away.
Thank god, all of this happened in my home city and I have a home to go back to after the mess. Now that I think back, it is not just the situation with the flight that made it so difficult but the entire week. It is amazing how certain days can still get on my nerves even after 9 years in this job.
So, that’s Day 0 even though I was still in India by the end of it 😁.