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Heathrow airport and a helping hand

IMG_07031230 hrs; 11 June 2015; Heathrow airport

After a 9 hour flight, I was standing restlessly in a long line to clear immigration at Heathrow airport. Lost in thoughts about catching the connecting flight to Edinburgh, at first I did not notice the tug on my sleeve. Sensing that someone was behind, I turned around to see a lady looking at me.  She was evidently in her late 50’s with numerous wrinkles on her face suggesting earlier hardships. In a low voice she gently requested me to fill up the immigration forms for her husband and herself. Hastily she added that neither she nor her husband could read or write any language, as they were from rural Nepal. It is then that I notice the shy gentleman standing quietly behind her. It occurred to her, as I glanced at my wife, that an overwhelming majority of the husbands do the same. I requested her for her travel documents for the details. They had arrived by the Qatar Airways flight on a Nepalese passport with a return ticket to Kathmandu dated 15th July 15 –  a month later. I recalled that I had felt the first tremors of the earthquake in New Delhi while I was booking my hotel reservations for my stay in Bath. What a coincidence.

It was obvious that they would have trouble communicating with the immigration officer, so I asked them to stand in front of me. When their turn came, I deftly accompanied them to be their interpreter. Numerous questions followed and together we were able to answer them successfully. Or putting it more accurately, the lady provided the answers with a resolute look and a firm voice. I looked towards the husband a number of times with great empathy. She was definitely the decision maker in the family.

Why have you come to UK? asked the officer.

They had arrived to attend the wedding of their daughter answered the lady handing over the wedding card for his examination

Do you have return tickets? He asked.

They had return tickets to go back to Kathmandu answered the lady handing over the copy of return ticket.

What if their daughter was not outside to receive them? he was suspicious.

They looked at the officer with disbelief – after all such things did not ever happen in their society. Who would give away the hand of the daughter but the parents??!

But what if she did not receive them? Did they have money to stay in a hotel? persisted the officer

GBP 600 in various denominations were proudly counted and handed over to the officer.

The officer looked at me carefully and then asked if I knew them from before?

Holy Molly No! I am just assisting them to make it easier for the officer and the couple to complete the immigration formalities.

He smiled at me and asked them to proceed out of the immigration area. I asked them to wait for me just beyond.

I joined them shortly thereafter & accompanied them for their baggage claim. We searched the baggage claim area but could not find their red suitcase. I had to catch my connecting flight and the rest of the family was waiting me to join them. So after a few minutes of clarifying & getting the reassurances from the gentlemen at baggage claim department, I left them to find their lost baggage.

My wife was impatient by then and I feared the worst.

‘Your daughter has forgotten her phone in the aircraft’ she said before walking off in a huff with the daughter. I was relieved but the daughter looked distraught………afterall there is no life without What’s app and selfies!

It was gratifying to help someone who desperately needed some in a strange land. But what struck me was the resilience of the couple and their struggle to raise money for the trip – whatever be the reason. The determination to handle a long journey to a strange land with a strange language and culture.

There were few lessons for me

  • don’t crib just because life gets a bit difficult at times, others have bigger challenges.
  • count your blessings every day for the privilges you have.


Since childhood I have always been fascinated about flight. Rationally if I can drown in a swimming pool, then how is it that a giant aircraft can take fly at high altitudes. Of course there are many technical explanations, but leaving them aside, one cannot but be intrigued by the idea of flight.


Here I was on yet another flight but thrilled as though it was my first.


The city night lights passing below, never ceased to fascinate.


  Soaring above the clouds which look like whipped cream.

IMG_0355The mystic spell of twilight while observing the fine line between light and darkness.

100_1461Flying is not always about travel, sometimes it’s about messages

IMG_1887Most of the times we fantasise about our desire to fly uninhibited and free!

A tribute to all my class fellows, friends & relatives who are serving or have served as pilots in the Indian Air Force and commercial airlines

Whats App group: An accidental inclusion

Being inquisitive is not my nature but there are exceptions.

I have never been privy to any conversation between a closed group of married ladies. Due to a strict gender discrimination against male members, there was no chance of being invited to any ‘Kitty’ party. That has not stopped me from imagining conversations around topics, which I am sure are not flattering to spouses. Honesty demands that I confess to many clandestine attempts to overhear such conversations, sometimes at the risk of my personal safety. Previous close shaves from the clutches of angry groups of married ladies still make me sweat. So till date I have remained curious about the going-ons in these groups. What I have learned from a couple of women, who were momentarily indiscreet, is that there is some disdain when discussing the spouse and lots of advice/guidance to the newly married women. There is hearty laughter also, especially when the discussions gets focused on redundancy.

By a ‘one in a zillion chance’, I have been that mistakenly added by a friend to a Whats App married ladies group. It is obvious that I will be ‘quiet like a church mouse’ in this group to learn about women and their aspirations. This also presents me with an opportunity to deepen the bonds with my counterparts. Those husbands who would like to know & discuss the exchanges in this group can contact me on this blog. The membership fee shall be $10 or equivalent per month per husband.