Serendipity is finding a needle in a haystack, or a friend at the airport.
I was headed back home after a super trip with some friends. We had the time of our lives at Budapest and Prague. (More about that trip in another post.)
Bidding bye to the rest of the gang at PRG airport was awful. I would miss them terribly, of course. But I would miss the moments and memories of the trip so much that it would cause physical pain.
I didn’t know this when I hugged them and boarded my flight. The withdrawal hit me big time on the flight. I was alone in a flight filled with over a 100 people.
After 5 days of hanging out every waking minute (and we barely slept since we kept talking through the night and into the dawn), it was awful to suddenly find myself with no one to talk to.
The hangover was so bad that everything felt dark and gloomy. It didn’t help that the flight dimmed the lights and closed the windows. I was depressed.
I landed at Doha to board my connecting flight to Bangalore. I had a 2-hour wait. I trudged around the airport seeing the shop displays but not really seeing them.
I drank a coffee, or two, or more, who knows. I was in a depro-trance.
I finally found a cafe near my boarding gate, and settled down to wait, with more coffee. To head home. To get back to the humdrum of daily life. To face the ‘real’ world.
WhatsApp to the Rescue
To pass time that was refusing to pass, I casually checked my WhatsApp messages. I don’t think I was really reading them. But suddenly, one message jumped up and caught my eye.
One of the group had sent a cryptic message:
“Dude, have you reached Doha?”.
I knew this couldn’t be me. I don’t think anyone in this group knew my travel itinerary so well that they knew I was in Doha at this moment in time.
I quickly messaged the Dude in question separately.
“Are you at the Doha airport?”.
I gulped the coffee, ate the croissant, drummed on the counter, stared wildly all around me looking for the Dude. Time ticked by slowly, too slowly, and there was no reply. My fingers ached from opening and closing WhatsApp. I think I was ready to cry.
Suddenly, there was a message from Dude. He said, “Yes, in the Doha airport. Where are you?”.
I think I cried out of joy, the joy at the chance of finding another known human. I still didn’t know where he was and where he was heading to.
I immediately WhatsApp called him. He did not answer! He is in the airport, he just replied to my message, but he won’t answer my call!! What the hell!!
My depressed mind poked me and said, “Maybe he doesn’t want to meet you?”. My own brain was turning against me.
Then there was a familiar ping, and Dude had messaged. He said that WhatsApp calls don’t work in this airport. Aah…I poked my evil brain back hard.
He then typed the magic words, “I am heading to Gate xyz to board the flight to Bangalore. What about you?”.
I was ecstatic. We were both on the same flight and heading home to Bangalore. I quickly messaged him that I was waiting near the gate, and was plonked at the coffee shop near the gate. He said he was on his way.
The next 10 minutes seemed like an hour. My neck hurt with all the craning. Finally saw him emerge from between the sea of humanity heading towards various gates. I toppled off the high stool I was sitting on, rushed towards him, and treated him to a bear hug. I think we almost collapsed in a heap.
You would think I was meeting my long lost lover after years or something. No one would know that Dude was actually dragging me out from the depths of depression by merely being present at the right time at the right place.
Dude also seemed equally happy to see me, bless him!
We went back to the cafe to retrieve the wallet, boarding card, and other luggage that I had left behind in my excitement. Everything was safe.
We caught up on how we came to be at the same airport together although we were coming from different places, he from Austin, and me from Prague. Who cares! This is destiny!
Of course, we must thank the one that sent the message that alerted me to Dude being there. If that message hadn’t arrived, we would have been absolutely unaware that we were on the same flight, and we could have easily missed each other completely. It was a packed flight.
It was time to board the flight. Dude wanted to check if we could get seats next to each other. I was a little concerned. I am highly anti-social on flights. I just don’t talk to anyone. My only goal is to wait for the flight to be over. I can’t read, I can’t sleep, I can’t watch TV. I just sit there with my eyes closed, waiting for the flight to land.
So I warned Dude that sitting next to each other would serve no purpose. Dude is the type who can make conversation with a rock. Maybe he would be better off sitting next to someone who would actually talk?
Dude was undeterred. He charmed the lady at the boarding gate, and soon she was handing us our boarding passes with seats next to each other. I have to admit I was thrilled, in spite of feeling sorry for Dude.
By then, I had messaged the hubby about my flight status and the discovery of Dude. Hubby was happy for me, but told me to warn Dude about my famous ‘Flight Anti-social Syndrome’. I showed the message to Dude to prove my point.
Dude laughed and said, “We will see”. I felt sorry for him.
We boarded the flight, settled down, marveled at the coincidence, and ordered our drinks.
I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep. Dude poked me and asked a question or two.
And then we chatted non-stop for the next 4 hours.
Dude was clearly the ‘sell igloos to eskimos’ kind of conversationalist!
All my depression-wepression was forgotten, I forgot that I was low, and landed happy and smug and wearing a huge Cheshire grin on my face.