Sunday, April 4, 2010
The Craziest Journey...Ever!
Have you’ve ever experienced a moment of total devastation, and then suddenly came a miracle, you couldn’t believe it you’d want to cry or laugh out hysterically?
It was a fine morning on the 9th of February 2009. It was a date I’ve been waiting for over a year, ever since I received one of the most gleeful SMS informing my selection as one of the delegates to represent Indonesia to the Harvard National Model United Nations 2009 in Boston, USA. Our flight to the US was in the evening, and little I know, just a few moments before take-off, a series of unfortunate event waits.
By evening all 15 of us gathered at the Jakarta airport. We all got our documents ready for inspection. When the time for boarding comes, we lined up to have our passports checked. I was the only Malaysian in the group, so I was the only one lining up in the ‘Foreign Passports’ row. By the time I got to the Immigrations officer, the other delegates had already passed the checkpoint. I was the last, and as if I was not delayed enough, it took a long while for the officer to inspect my passport. “Is there a problem, Sir?” I asked, realizing that it was taking a lot more time than usual. “Yes…where is your Re-entry Permit?”. “My what?”… It took me awhile, but then I got the idea of what he’s asking. That was when my heart starts to beat really fast.
“Owh God! How could I forget!” I totally overlooked an important document I’m supposed to get. I was too dependent on the faculty advisors that I left all the documents handling to them. I thought everything was settled, but I forgot the fact that I there was one document I’m supposed to settle as a foreign national. The faculty advisors also overlooked it, but they are not to blame since this is the first time ever they’re having a foreign student as a delegate. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my vein when the officer told me this:
“You have to return back to Bandung, and get the documents settled in the morning”.
Return back to Bandung and get it settled in the morning? I’m on my way to one of the most important conferences in my life, a conference I’ve prepared for over a year, a conference I’ve worked my ass for, every single day of the last 9 months, and you tell me to come back tomorrow morning? One thing is that I would definitely miss my flight, second, I would have to reschedule my flight, which could be a great hassle, and the third thing is that it would definitely cost me more money as if I have not spend much enough for this trip. Fourth, and most importantly, it would mean I’d miss 1 or 2 days of the conference, and the conference is only for 3 days! I told myself: “I’ve been waiting so long for this, and I can’t just let this happen!” Me and my faculty advisors tried to talk this out with the officers, but they insisted on me getting the documents. I wouldn’t want them to miss their flights as well, so I told them to just go on without me, and convince them I’ll catch up later. So they all went on the plane, leaving me behind, all alone...
Devastated, I sat on the floor, waiting for my luggage to be returned to me, thinking of my ultimate bad luck. I was scared that there will be no more vacancy for tomorrow or even the day after tomorrow’s flight. This late, buying a ticket to the US is simply mad. I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it to the US at all! That would be crazy since the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia sponsored my flight tickets. What if they know I didn't even set foot in the US?
Finally accepting what just happened, I got a cab, and was on my way to return to Bandung. All the time inside the cab I was praying that everything will go well with the reschedule. I really hoped for a miracle. I really believed a miracle will happen. Then, when I was about half an hour away from the airport when I got a phone call. I was guessing it was my friend, but it’s not.
“Hello, Lutfi, this is…, your friend’s…, aunty”
That friend was one of the delegates which just took off. In my mind, I thought, ‘okay my friend’s aunty, how can you help me?’
“My nephew told me about the troubles you had at the airport. Don’t worry, I’ll help. My husband’s the head of Jakarta airport Immigration Officer, for now, you turn back to the airport, my husband has informed the officers that you will be having your documents made there at the airport. Everything will be settled. All you have to do is write an official letter to the Immigration later”
The head Immigration will help? It was like Bill Gates coming home to fix my computer! I was so thankful beyond expression; I don’t even know how to describe it. All I can say is that I was thankful to God. My prayers has been answered. Miracle happens I asked the cab to turn around, back to the airport, I went. The good thing is that our flight transits at Singapore, and our next flight to the US won’t lift off till the next morning. So I can meet the others at Singapore. Since I missed the first flight, I had to buy a new ticket.
But then, the nightmare just hadn't end yet...
There’s only ONE TICKET LEFT to Singapore, and it was 30 minutes before boarding! If I miss this flight, then I had to reschedule the whole journey! Might as well I came back in the morning as before. I thought to myself, 'I can't give up this far, a miracle just happened, so it will happen again!' So I just bought the ticket, which took the attendant quite a while to get (since it’s really last-minute), and things get real intense when I got only 5 minutes to check-in, and the check-in counter is at the one end of the airport, and here I am at the other end! It guess the distance is about 500 m.
The attendant ask me to run. So I did. I ran the whole way with my luggage, and turned the heads of everybody I passed by. I made it right on time, but I guess bad news never ends. They told me I had to run again, because the fights is lifting off in 5 minutes. The people really rushed their work, got my documents done, I ran to the gate. I remembered that I was really gasping for air right before reaching the gate. I’ve never ran that hard in a while, and bringing the extra luggage made me more exhausted than ever.
I passed through the gate just minutes before it closes, and that was when I felt that my bad day ends. I took the flight to Singapore, and met the others there. My faculty adviser was very relieved to see me, and the first thing I told her was: “I just went through hell…and survived”
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