Thursday, March 31, 2011

Onwards to Korea - Part 2 (Concluding Part)

For Part 1, click here

"Refreshed" after the boiled corn and French fries, I began my hunt for the Free Internet Service Station. And why didn't I use my laptop instead?
Well, as luck wold have it, the day I left for Korea, was some mega power block in Navi Mumbai area. No power frm 8-6! Wow!! So ya laptop was dead...

Moving on, I finally did find a place. It read I could use it for 15 min, but hey till someone stands behind me and asks me to get up, I ain't going anywhere. Finally spoke to family and friends. Ah Internet is such a life saver I tell you. After chatting for some time, I could see some desperate souls like me waiting for their turn and I offered them my seat. (I'm nice at times :D)

There was still about 4 hours to go... Nintendo DS to the rescue! Played for quite sometime and suddenly heard a rumble. It was my stomach. How long can boiled corn and fries sustain; also I've a good appetite. :P
I was wondering what to eat! Of course... the safest food I could have without fear was Chocolates! Went around and bought a big pack of Toblerone Minis. Yay!

Munching on the chocolates, one after the other, I happily headed to the gate and opened my book to read. Books are like time machines (Amitabh Bacchan says that in the Reid & Taylor ad).... Need I say more?

It was time to board!

Cathay Pacific Airlines. First impressions? It was just like any other airlines... I only worried about food. I had requested for Indian Veg Meal, but then I didn't expect much esp after the food I had in Jet. Also it was China! is full of surprises...Cathay pacific served the best Indian veg meal I had! Pulav, naan, & paneer mutter! Yummy!!!

After that content meal, soothing music is what I wanted. Turned on the flight's channels and to my surprise they had Bollywood music too... I loved Cathay Pacific already :D
The hours flew by in my sleep and the captain announced that it was near time to land.
That was the time, the harsh reality struck me. I wasn't going home! All this while it just felt like those days with a hectic travel schedule.. but the ending was always home...

But, it wasn't this time!

Landed. It was an unknown place, unknown people, unknown territory. I wasn't scared but I wanted to run back home. The thought that I wasn't returning home was tormenting me... Went through the exit, lost in thoughts.

My ex-boss was  waiting for me. I couldn't recognize him, but he could (ain't hard to spot an Indian here.) He called out my name, took over my luggage trolley, talked about old times and tried to make me feel comfortable. He gave his phone so that I could inform everyone back home about my safe journey. I couldn't speak much.. Various emotions were gushing. Held on to them and went on...

After 1.5 hrs of drive, we finally reached the apartment arranged for me. My boss, his family and my friend Praveen were there to welcome me. A sweet little place and the people were so warm and friendly.  After light introductions and greetings, everyone left. My friend however stayed back for sometime, we chit-chatted about old days and then he left too.

It was past midnight and I still couldn't get any sleep. "It sucks to be away from home"... I remember murmuring that for a long time only to wake up to the sun. It was months since anyone saw the sun in Korea. Maybe, he just followed me all the way here, to make sure I'm fine :)

This concludes the "Onwards to Korea"post. Will list my living experience here as it goes... :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Onwards to Korea - Part 1

One fine morning, my ex-boss called me and offered me a job in Korea. I wasn't too sure how it was going to work out. Firstly it was going to be non-gaming. But then, I thought about it. I was considering taking a break from gaming to revive those creative brain cells. They were on the verge of death, me thinks ;)

My friend Praveen was already working for the same firm in Korea. I discussed with (read troubled) him and came to the conclusion to give it a try . And luckily for me, they offered a relevant role to my husband Arjun too! Yay!!  I was so happy about the fact that I won't have to stay alone! More than the staying, it was the travelling that scared me for some reason. I've never been scared to travel alone; maybe it was the unknown place, unknown language. When communication becomes a problem, it kind of scares me.

As luck would have it, the company wanted me to join early, and Arjun couldn't leave that early. So I had to start off alone...the very thing I was scared of... Sigh.
On the d-day, my entire family and a friend tagged along to drop me off at the Mumbai International Airport. The only time I have ever been away from my family was the 7 months I had spent in Bangalore. But this time it was different. It wasn't within India anymore. So sending me off did call for a good amount of tears. We are an emotional family as it is :)

My flight was Jet Airways which was taking me to HongKong and a change of flight from there. The lady at the counter informed me that they have no more tie-ups with the connecting flights and that I will have to collect my check-in luggage at HongKong and check it back in with my connecting airlines. I had checked with Jet Airways before my journey itself. So it didn't come as a surprise. In any case, she told me that she had tagged my check-in luggage destination to Seoul. (Umm..Alright :S)

My folks waited at the visitor's lounge till I proceeded to immigration. I'm not a big fan of being away from my comfort zone. With international roaming activated on my phone and slightly relieved to have cross checked with the airlines on my meal preference (Indian Veg Meal), I proceeded. It didn't feel any different than boarding a domestic flight. 

I was way early and had to kill about 3 hours! And I was hungry. So I went and grabbed a veg sandwich; which wasn't up to my liking. After throwing away the rest of it into the bin, I waited at the designated gate and read my book.  Reading a book is a great thing to do to kill time. It was time to board already. 

I was glad to see some good movies and shows listed as part of the flight entertainment. Right when I was dozing off, they served meal. I wasn't particularly happy about the food. It was a very similar sandwich.. Sigh.  Thankfully fruits were there.  After that I resumed the movie I was watching, only to wake up to breakfast service! 

And the breakfast was equally terrible. Mini Idlis soaked in tasteless sambhar and some weird Uthappa. Again, fruits saved the day. And in another hour's time, I had reached Hongkong! It was raining there then.
I spotted a help desk and approached them and asked them regarding my connecting flight and baggage. Fortunately the airport staff speaks understandable English. I did have to repeat, but the message got through :)

I headed to the Cathay Pacific counter and they gave me my boarding pass and told me they will pick up my luggage. !!! I checked with him again as Jet Airways had told me otherwise. He assured me. Instead of feeling relieved, I was tensed about whether they will pick up my luggage or not. He said I could check it at the gate, 1 hr prior to flight's takeoff. My connecting flight wasn't for another 5 hours! I finished my security check and sat at some random gate as my flight wasn't even listed then. Hongkong airport is huge. And travelators everywhere. I wanted to check about my check-in baggage and on inquiry found that the Cathay Pacific desk was on the other end. I started proceeding that way. Saw a lot of free internet stations on the way. All were occupied. I reached the other end; checked with the staff; he too assured me that my luggage will be picked up. I headed back trying to find a free internet station. I almost reached the other end without any luck only to feel hungry. Then it dawned that I saw Mc.Donalds near the airline desk.. Sigh..

The other side also had restaurants, but I wasn't sure if I will get anything veg. So, after another long walk, I headed to Mc Ds and asked for something veg. I got it too: Fries, Boiled Corn and Coke.. So disappointed. It's hard for the vegetarians. 

I grumbled to myself, thought about the delicious food back home and ate the meager meal that lay in front of me... be contd....

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