The date is Dec. 19, 2015 and my friend Sourabh is at Pune’s Lohgaon Airport with all alone, desperately waiting for a Jet airways flight to Abu Dhabi and from there he is supposed to board a flight of Emirates to reach at London Heathrow Airport.
This was Sourabh’s first life time experience of travelling even in airplane. Although Passport-Visa was ready, two days back he received temporary work permit of one week in U.K. from Cognizant Technology Solutions for his first assignment abroad. A Deputation letter was still pending from client side but client agreed to provide it once Sourabh reaches at company office in UK.
There was a big question mark about where to stay. Sourabh was aggresively searching for houses on rent in Slough in Berkshire, South East England via internet. Depending on rates and distance from company office he decided to seek house in Langley which is a large village in the unitary authority of Slough. He requested about his stay in Langley to one of the houseowner, Mr. Mushtaq who was basically from Pakistan but had settled in Langley village since last 15 years.
Sourabh purchased some typical things like as cooker which are only available in India and packed his bag within one day. By boarding an auto from Hinjewadi to Lohgaon, he has just arrived at airport with heavy luggage. Also, his parents have arrived just now to wish him “Happy Journey!”. Tears are flowing from his mother’s eye who is anxious about safety of her beloved son in some foreign country and having concerns like as where he’ll stay? what he’ll eat? and many more. Father, although with same emotions but trying to hide negative thoughts, pretending to be calm and composed.
With a heavy heart, Sourabh entered in to air plane, offering goodbye to his beloved parents. A beautiful and seductive Arab Air-hostess welcomes him with grin and helps to find his seat. In few hours, he reached at Abu Dhabi airport. He eats a delicious sandwich at corner shop at airport, seating on bench and waiting for next flight to Heathrow airport. Two hours are left for arrival of Emirates flight. Sourabh starts entertaining himself by observing aeroplanes and people at airport of different nations with different cultures.
Magically, two hours are passed in no time and next flight is ready for boarding at Abu- Dhabi airport. Sourabh enters a luxurious and huge plane of Emirates airlines. A gorgeous Blonde Air-hostess greets him with a warm smile and quite hospitality. She helps him to find his window seat. After some time, plane is roaring high in the sky with fresh, pleasant and elegant environment in and outside the plane.
A beautiful Irish girl with mesmerizing eyes and wearing shorts was luckily seating besides him. She was knowing no one on plane and was in search of some interesting guy to talk. Sourabh couldn’t enjoy her presence neither the scenery outside the window. In fact, his legs were shaking and lips were trembling because he remembered about his bag which he never inquired at Abu Dhabi. Irish girl surprised to see his facial expressions and swiftly asks him,” Do you have any problem?”. Our shy Sourabh explains her about his lost luggage. She assures him that he can collect it at London, Heathrow airport and be cool!
Finally Sourabh arrives at airport helplessly searching for his bag. Sourabh sighs when he sees an Indian person wearing Turbon at help desk. Sardarji exclaims, “Oye Puttar! Are you Sourabh Singh? from India?”. For a moment, Sourabh felt so special that even in UK somebody knows him but he realized that Sardarji is just an employee of airport searching to handover the bag. Sardarji assures him that his bag is coming from Abu Dhabi in another flight and will be delivered at your UK address by tomorrow.
Sourabh himself was unaware of his whereabouts of staying in unknown London city. He reasons for a moment and withdraws a mobile phone from his pocket. To his horror, simcard doesn’t work because Indian local simcards aren’t valid here. He uses free wifi of airport in phone and immediately receives a call from Mr. Mushtaq on WhatsApp.
Now, Sourabh is already having address of Langley county of Mr. Mushtaq, which he provides to Sardarji & requests to deliver the luggage by tomorrow. Mr. Mushtaq instructs Sourabh everything about how to reach. There were two ways to reach to Langley from Heathrow airport. One was to book a black cab which can directly fetch you there costing 8 to 10 Pounds or you can go by bus with just 3 Pounds.
Sourabh thinks, 8 to 10 pounds means almost 1000 Indian rupees which is very expensive. So, he decides to go by a bus. He reaches a desired airport terminal by train from current terminal. From here, buses were likely available for Langley. After little bit of inquiry, he found himself standing in the queue eagerly waiting for a bus to Langley. In Pune nobody follows this rule but in UK, he was patiently doing it.
After entering the bus, conductor asks him for fare. Sourabh finds his wallet, stuggling to choose less amount note among other notes and hands over a 20 Pound note. Actual bus fare was only 3 Pounds and naturally, conductor demands for coins or change but Sourabh doesn’t have it.
Conductor was really generous and nicely advises Sourabh, “Please don’t show this much money to anybody because it’s too dangerous, here. I understand that you’re new in London and from India”. The bus stops at next station to collect a change from other bus conductor. With apologetic tone, conductor returns 17 Pound coins. Sourabh laughs in mind remembering our PMT buses conductors in Pune and compared the behaviors between two. Now, he has reached at Langley village, thanking bus conductor and waiving goodbye!
Sourabh searches for House number 19 of Mr. Mushtaq. After roaming little bit on the strrets, he comes across House number 18 and blindly assumes that next must be House number 19. This creates another embarrasment for Sourabh. UK citizens follow a rule that all neighbour houses are either Even numbered or Odd numbered on the particular street. Sourabh mistakenly entered house of Mr. Wattson who guided him to the direction of respective lane of odd numbered houses.
Finally, Sourabh reaches to the house of Mr. Mushtaq who welcomes him wholeheartedly with warm greetings offering weed to smoke. Sourabh humbly receives hospitality of Mr. Mushtaq but refuses the weed. Mr. Mushtaq intoduces his gorgeous greek girlfriend Laila to Sourabh and then shows the room. Sourabh enters the room at upper floor and sighs, feels comfortable, feeling like he is out of trouble, now.
It’s evening time by now and after getting refreshed and changing clothes, Sourabh comes on ground floor in anticipation of Tea or Coffee. Here, Laila has just cooked delicious “Lasagne” which is basically a ribbon pasta offered to Sourabh along with Cappuccino. This was a pleasant moment for Sourabh. After finshing formal talk with Mr. Mushtaq, Sourabh returns to his room. He inserts newly bought sim-card at Heathrow airport in to his Nexus mobile phone and calls his mother, happily. Here in india, his parents have already arrived at their residence in Solapur travelling back from Pune.
On the next day, Sourabh reaches his Cognizant office on 1,Kingdom Street of London from Langley village in the car of Mr. Mushtaq. Sourabh shifts to another place from Langley within next 7 days. He stayed in different areas of London city and explores UK for next four months.
The lovely time spent by Sourabh in this beautiful country comes to an end. With a heavy heart saying goodbye to all the people, with a lot of experience and memories Sourabh bids a good bye to UK and reaches safely at Delhi airport, back in India on April 22, 2016. Currently, He stays in Pune and working with Siemens. I’m sharing his sweet story with you along with his beautiful memories in UK via photos, with his due permission. Relish it!!!!