Monday, December 23, 2013

On Wearing Pizza

No pictures were taken during this escapade due to an intense fear of ruining my camera, so I leave all images to your imagination.

I was wearing pizza. I stood on the train, hovering unsurely by the door, wondering if the conductor could kick me off because I was too dirty. My friends nudged me onwards, pointing me towards our seats. The car was almost empty. The only other passengers besides my two friends and I were two young Chilean men, headed home after a long day of work. I placed plastic bags on the seats and sat down gingerly, afraid to touch too much of the cushion, for fear that the pizza dripping from my being would contaminate the freshly cleaned seats. It was my first time on a Chilean train.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Delhi in 1 day

Seeing a city in one day is difficult, but it is possible to hit a lot of the major sights.  I had one day in Delhi during my trip to India, and I was able to see a surprising number of things.  I had a taxi at my disposal, so I didn't have to worry about transportation between places (or haggling with auto drivers in a language I barely speak), but the Metro system is supposed to be quite good as well.

I have to say that Delhi is surprisingly clean, and there is an initiative to make the city more green, so there are lots of trees and open spaces.  The green initiatives actually seem to be gaining momentum all over the country.  Even in Hyderabad (the current capital city of Andhra Pradesh), there is more of an effort to maintain open spaces, which I don't remember being as much of an emphasis seven years ago, when I last visited.

I really enjoyed what I saw of Delhi.  There a lot of history there alongside the modern infrastructure, and it's fascinating to see the two interwoven throughout the city.  Hopefully, I'll get a chance to go back and explore some more.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday from Hell Part 4: The Missing Backpack

For whatever reason (that reason possibly being that it's a ridiculous thing to do), I didn't have to go through immigration at the Sydney airport.  This meant no conversation with immigration officers about my lack of proper documentation and no heading back to the US with my tail between my legs.

However, I did have to go through customs.  This made no sense to me, but I had to throw out my green tea flavored mints because they are technically considered food.  And at that point, I was willing to consider them food since I had no other source of calories.

I ended up going to a desk labeled "International Transfers" in the airport and asking for a flight to Auckland.  And they gave me a boarding pass, no questions asked.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday from Hell Part 3: Wrong Country

LAX is a labyrinth.  I always forget this, and no matter how many times I've been there, I still never have any idea where I am or where I am going.  During my mad dash off the plane, I was much too preoccupied with getting myself off the plane to think about where I was going to go once I succeeded.  Thus, once I entered the airport, I ran up to the nearest gate agent and gasped out an incoherent question involving the phrase "Air New Zealand".  The agent looked at me quizzically, possibly because I was sweating and panting like I had just run a marathon.  "Sorry," she said, "ask at Customer Service and they'll be able to help you."

Customer Service?  I had 15 minutes to get on my connecting flight.  There was no way I had time to stand in a customer service line.  "You'll have to run," the gate agent told me, with the tone of someone attempting to be patient with an extremely aggravating customer.  I took that as my cue to look for help elsewhere.

Fortunately, Customer Service was across from my gate and the area was completely empty.  I quickly explained my dilemma to the agent at the desk and asked if she would be able to call over to Air New Zealand to see if I could make the flight.  I've been on international flights where we waited a few extra minutes before leaving so connecting passengers could make it on, so I thought this would be a reasonable request.  I was expecting  a "Sorry, I can't help you," or "Let me see what I can do."  What I got was "Sorry, I don't have the phone number for Air New Zealand."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday from Hell Part 2: Missing Flights

I knew that my flight to San Francisco was delayed by an hour, but as I had built two hours of layover time into my itinerary, I was confident that I would I make my flight to Auckland.  Still, it never hurts to make sure, so I stood in line at the desk at gate C10 to inquire about my connecting flight.

There was some drama going on there.  A group of agents were crowded around a computer screen and arguing.  The supervisor, newly arrived, inquired where the customer was.  "She was about to have a nervous breakdown, so she went to the bathroom," one of the agents informed him matter-of-factly.  Well.  Okay then.

Holiday from Hell Part 1: Lunatic on Belmont Ave

I've never missed a flight before, at least not that I can remember. My mom has horror stories of losing our passports in an Indian airport and missing our flights to Hyderabad in 1988, but I was only six months old at the time, and I don't remember it. The closest I've ever come to actually missing a flight was when I flew out to Washington DC to start my internship after my second year of college. That experience involved an impasse at security, a mad sprint to the gate from the train at Denver International Airport, and extreme tachycardia. I ran through the gate in truly dramatic fashion, ending up the last passenger to board the aircraft in a scene that was movie-worthy. That was a close call, but I still made it. On the Holiday from Hell, everything changed.