A bike shop in Istanbul sold me a bike box for 35 lira, and then I spent half a day searching for bubble wrap and parcel tape. I got lost in a labyrinth of small streets only walked by local Istanbulis, but I found a nice hairdressing shop and got my hair cut. Back at the ranch (my friendly budget hotel, hi Salih), I disassembled the bike and packed it with my camping gear inside the box.
I got my India visa. I’d show it to you it but my photo looks like the mugshot of someone just wrestled in by some dudes in white coats. I organised flights to New Delhi via Mumbai, and I booked my airport shuttle ride. Some passengers took exception to the bike box and I apologised more than once, before busting out my scary visa-face again. I enjoyed a quiet hour’s ride to the airport.
At Istanbul Airport, Turkish Airlines staff sent me from one queue to another and back again as I tried to check the bike in. I had ticked every effing box, it was all pre-booked and paid for. After more than two hours, they smiled: 50 euros and the torment stops. OK.
Our plane was still on the ground an hour and a half after boarding. The young man on my right was flying home to his wife and would see his four-month old son for the first time. He couldn’t get away from work in Malta until now. It can feel like a sad old world sometimes.
The three-hour early morning layover in Mumbai had shrunk to less than one because of the flight delay. And I had to collect my luggage and change terminals; and the bike box couldn’t be found. Nobody wanted to look so I lost my temper. Then a young pipsqueak in a suit said something and I verbally annihilated him 🙂
They mobilised after that and my bike showed up. Too late for my connection to New Delhi.
Mumbai monsoons are unimaginable, and I was saturated right to my bra and knickers in the brief exposure between terminals. I’d had no sleep overnight and all my raging had tuckered me out.
At the desk I got whiny about the injustices I’d suffered and they booked me onto the next flight. I was assigned an elderly porter with a sullen face. For the next thirty minutes, whether we were quietly queuing or dashing from counter to counter, he farted. There were deep sonorous rumbles (like elephants do), urgent trumpets, and some cheeky little squeals that made me turn and stare at him. He didn’t even blink.
Once aboard, I was seated next to a young couple and their baby. What a happy little soul he was, and how much better I felt in his company. His Mum called me ‘auntie’ (older people are all called uncle or auntie in India) and by the time we landed we were all saying warm goodbyes.
Airline staff greeted me on arrival at New Delhi and helped me out to another taxi. I’d like to end this tale in soft focus, but I’m still mad at the two taxi drivers (Mumbai and New Delhi) who saw a soft financial target and made the most of it. Bastards.