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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014
When travel karma hit me
Amrah Ashraf, Hindustan Times
June 01, 2012
First Published: 18:23 IST(1/6/2012)
Last Updated: 12:31 IST(16/6/2012)

I am digressing from the usual underground stuff I like to talk about because something catastrophic has happened in my life and I want to talk about it. And let’s be honest, this is the only space I get to write about what’s going through my head and yet have an audience (however marginal).

Today I am going to talk about my travel karma and how I must’ve been the worst kind of offender in my past life (if there was one) considering my travel karma is as pathetic as it is. So, as you already know, I work as a journalist for a paltry remuneration (even after my appraisal) and live in Mumbai on my own. So obviously money is never at my disposal. I collected every penny in the last two years in hopes to realise a dream that I had shared with my friends – a dream to travel to Croatia. Last month the five of us – Dalia, Shruti, Poonam, Payal and me suddenly realised that we had the money and booked our tickets for June 1. Then came the bigger question – how will we get leaves from office for 15 days? After contemplating for two weeks, I decided to write a mail to my boss asking for it and surprisingly it came through!

The beautiful beach town we were supposed to visit - Pic Courtesy: Herceg Dalia

Now, nothing could stop us. We got all our papers in place and gave them to our trusted travel agent a month in advance. Everything was set – our visa papers were under process and we even got our money exchanged just in time before the rupee depreciated. The travel agent, a sweet old man, assured us that by third week of May we would have our passports stamped. We were ready for our summer sojourn. And then calamity struck – the passport office informed us that our papers hadn’t reached them in the first place. And we panicked. There was less than a week for our trip and we didn’t know where our passports were. We called our travel agent and his phone was off. We went to his office and it was locked. We knew our trip was in jeopardy. Not only did he have our passports, he had our money as well. We knew his assistant was in Delhi and launched a search party to find him. That night we did not sleep. The next day was the same story – our passports were probably sold to some migrants and our sweet elderly travel agent was missing. Funnily, when the four of them were hyperventilating about the disastrous course of events, I was rather calm. I was calm because I have been through similar and worse situations before.

You see, my travel karma is famous for being rotten. I mean, I have been on a flight that caught fire, my flight always catches the worst turbulence, I have been homeless in an unknown destination, I’ve been in slasher-film situations, mobbed, robbed and missed my train despite being at the station an hour before the scheduled departure. So you see – I am used to things going hay wire while travelling. People who know me have vowed to never travel with me because of my travel karma.

This was supposed to be our weekend home - Pic courtesy: Beti Mihajlovic

So, when they finally stopped shrieking and crying about it, we got back to our investigation and after two days found our passport after ransacking our travel agent’s office. We even found his accomplice on the outskirts of Mumbai. They were clearly not planning to sell our passports. They just forgot about us and our passports. In the mean time my friend Dalia travelled to Delhi to make a plea for our case but was rejected. We have cancelled our tickets and waiting for the Croatian embassy to consider our applications again.

Will we get to go? I am hopeful but my four friends'  travel karma needs to overpower mine to make this happen.

May the force be with them.

From HT Brunch, June 3

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