Our Temporary Flatmates
Ohh, look at the three of them holding hands
Having realised we were going to be stuck in London for the next five days Nick got in touch with Mike, one of his uni mates who was living in London, to ask if we could impose upon his hospitality for a while (we felt like we'd been asking this question a lot lately). Yes, he said, turns out our timing was “impeccable” and he was leaving for a business trip the following day. We could stay in his room while he was gone. The next morning we gathered up our belongings and caught the train to Paddington to meet Mike at his work. He greeted us with outstretched arms and we all had a group hug. He took us over to his flat that he also shared with fellow New Zealanders, Alister, who was reportedly never home, and James, the couch surfer, who was in the process of finding a job, and was always home. Mike packed his suitcase and was off while we explained our predicament to James. James was suitably sympathetic and after some discussions on living in London we all got chatting about the phenomenon of pre-prepared food in the UK. James admitted to having indulged in
The Much Anticipated Boarding Pass
even if it was just for a stop-over
a few pre-prepared dinners himself and so we decided, for novelty value, we'd go and get some pre-prepared dinners. James was able to provide a few pointers on which meals were good and which were not so good, and also very excitedly told us about the 2 for £4 special. Since having arrived in London James said he'd been on a £10 per day budget, so the special was working very well for him.
The next night I made dinner, and we invited James to eat with us. It was just as we sat down to a lovely home cooked meal that Alister flew through the door from work and was greeted by the four of us just about to tuck in. For a second he was taken aback, but then he burst out laughing. It looked like some family had taken over his flat! And admittedly, we did feel like we were the squatters club. Of course we offered for him to join us but he said he was only in for a moment before heading out again. Sure enough he was gone five minutes later, only to return once we'd all gone to sleep. The life of
An Artists Impression of Delhi Airport
But I can't say I walked a tightrope....even if that would have made things more interesting!
a young bachelor must be exhausting!
Our time in London was fairly uneventful really. We had confirmed that India was definitely a non-starter. The time for processing plus the extra paperwork for Phoebe was going to be unachievable in the time frame we had. As we had already booked flights from Delhi to KL (and then KL to Auckland), we had found that in fact we could fly to Delhi at the re-scheduled date, then bring our Delhi – KL flight back so that we would only need to stop over in Delhi airport, and therefore require no visas. We still wouldn't be seeing India but at least we wouldn't have just blown a lot of money on wasted flights. From KL we'd have to work out what we'd do with ourselves for three weeks.
We got to see Mike briefly before we left as we had an overlap of one day, so we caught him up on all the goings on since he'd left. By Friday it was time for us to make the journey back to Heathrow to catch the very same flight we'd been refused the week prior. Thankfully boarding went off without a hitch
Arguing with airport officials sure does take its toll
and we were soon on the red eye flight to Delhi.
We arrived at 11.30am in Delhi. As soon as we stepped off the plane we were confronted with the transfer desk (with a huge line), and then another huge line for security checks. Beyond the security checks was The World of Convenience, the waiting lounge. The airport had just been built so the waiting lounge was very flash, with every possible ammenity you could think of....if only we could get past security. Once we got to the front of the transfer desk line the Kingfisher representative told us our boarding passes could not be issued as no one from Malaysian Airlines was present, we would have to wait until 7pm. I looked around the transfer area, there was NOTHING there, nothing except lot's of bored people. We were beginning to run low on water, and I only had a few biscuits in my bag for snacks. How could we be expected to wait 7 hours without food or water?
Once the initial rush had died down we went back to the transfer desk to take issue with being made to wait seven hours without food or water.
Phoebe Makes a Friend
Don't be mistaken, this is the proper waiting lounge we finally got to after the fiasco
Blank stares. “I have a young daughter, she needs water, we all need water!” More blank stares. I thought of the futility of our situation, we were being deprived food and water, a basic human need and right, in a country where starvation is a common occurrence, and childhood malnutrition is alarmingly high. The blank stares conveyed it all “so you don't have food and water for seven hours, what of it?”. We weren't the only people caught in the same predicament and others were getting equally agitated. A French guy heard us remonstrating with the airport representatives and thought he'd get in on the action too. He became quickly outraged, made threats and started becoming aggressive. I laughed quietly to myself thinking of our recent predicament with the French protesting the increase in retirement age....the French do love to get angry about perceived injustices, and I was happy that at least this time the French were on our side! Alarm quickly registered on the faces of the airport reps. I backed it up by saying I refused to move from my position at their desk until the situation changed, then Nick followed it up with a small diatribe on the general state of things.
By 3.30pm (only four hours after our flight arrived and 8 hours after we'd last eaten), a small food cart arrived that we could buy food and water from. The airport rep then told me they had specially organised for someone to come and check us in. At the same time a group of 30 Americans arrived, they were late for their connecting flight and were all given the same brush off we had become accustomed to. They were going to miss their next flight to some remote village (they were on some community building program) and the next one would not be taking off until the next day. Those poor buggers were facing a wait of 24 hours stuck in that food-less, water-less place! Just as scenes were erupting from the American contingent a man came and told us he would check us through. We got our boarding passes, and sped through security into the Haven of Plenty, the waiting lounge. We had dinner and then like a hobo I rolled out the sleeping mat and slept on the floor while Nick and Phoebe read their books. We finally boarded our flight to KL, relieved to be rid of the place.
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