Saturday, May 3, 2008

My first trip abroad (Twilight Zone).

The surrounding was a little strange as the plane landed at the airport. I can glance from the window that the landscape looked very parched and the grass was brown. I can also see the mirage on the runway. As the pilot announced the local time at the airport that I was about to land, I changed the time at my watch and this was a brand new watch that I got as a gift for my overseas trip for my studies. I had to wind two and half hours back from the place where I was flying from.
To my surprise I saw some workers working at the airport, their skin tanned working under the blazing heat and they were wearing only loin cloths. They were doing manual work, just like a scene from a movie where you find jailbirds toiling away breaking rocks in some hill with a sledge hammer.
Now this was about thirty years ago, when I was a student in pursue of higher education to be a Doctor (now that I am an engineer). Sitting alone on the flight and looking at the scenes unfolding before me was a cultural shock to me. This is the very first time that I am ever leaving my home, my comfort zone not knowing what the outside world really looks like.
I enjoyed the flight though, I had my share of the free drinks and I had managed to smoke onboard too (those were the days). But reality hit me right at my face, what am I doing in a country which looked like it was still in the stone ages. Who am I to complain as I was seeking my higher education in this so called stone aged country?
The airport was run down and there were queues a mile long everywhere for the immigration clearance. I guess I was one the last to get my passport stamped from that flight. The custom clearance was a piece of cake as I looked at it, no queue and I carried my luggage to the counter to open it for the custom officer to check it. But it was a rather embarrassing moment for me. The officer shouted at me to take my place at the queue, I was thinking to myself, what queue? Little did I realise that there was actually a queue, the passengers were very tired standing for ages and they had decided to place the luggage in line and they were seating on the benches.
Who do I know in this strange land? My guardian was fixed by my uncle who was studying his engineering in the northern part of the country. Have I seen this so called guardian or do I have a clue how he looks like? The only description that I had of him was that he is short, dark and has big round eyes. When I looked at the stream of people who were waiting on the reception hall, almost all of them fit that description. Was I doomed?
I look at my watch for the local time and to my surprise; the watch had stopped at the precise moment when the plane landed at the airport. My hair on my back was standing and I had goose bumps just thinking about it. Am I alive or did the plane crash and I am in another world or dimension so to speak.
Just before I left for my overseas trip, I had watched twilight zone on the telly and there was this episode about how the passengers on a plane were flying and the plane had encountered some turbulence due to air pockets, and after that there was calm and the plane was still flying through with an eerie silence and when some of the passengers had looked at their watches, it had all stopped at the precise moment when the plane had crashed (due to bad weather) and they were all flying in a different dimension.
I woke up from that eerie moment or feeling as in front of me was that short, dark and those big round eyes man calling my name and he had my photograph with him.

To be continued.....


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