And so the day started yesterday at 6am UK time. I managed to carry the faithful backpack downstairs to the waiting taxi. Feeling quite pleased with myself that I hadn't had to have half of its contents removed by disapproving friends and family - I obviously learnt from last year! But I had made a stand with regard to my hair gel and took an extra supply (see last years trips posting 'Hirsute in India'), another lesson learned!
Karen and I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 an hour later, checked in and went for breakfast. And then ... I got lost! Now those of you that know me well are aware that my sense of direction makes no sense! As I have always said, I could get lost walking around a Christmas Tree! It's not my fault, apparently it is genetic! From my mums side, well the Lasky side to be precise, where it is common practise to find oneself taking a 'scenic route' from 'A' to 'B'!
You see I had popped to the loo and arranged with Karen to meet her back at WH Smiths. Simple? Nope! I got confused as to which Smiths; there were three and then there was a corner to turn down at the end of the walkway and that was it, I had lost my way! After making a quick phone call to the other red head, I managed to find my way back, to a bemused Karen, who was wondering how on earth I managed to find my way around India last year! Then she pointed out, that it didn't really bode well for the next few weeks and I could end up spending a fortune in phone calls!
The flight left on time ( I managed to find my way to the plane!) and we were off to Mumbai to pick up a connecting flight to Bangkok. And then a familiar aroma hit the back of my nostrils and the blood drained from my face - curry!!
I hadn't eaten Indian food since my last trip and in particular nothing hotter than a Korma since I was really ill out there.
But of course! It was an Indian Flight we were on, so they were obviously going to serve curry for lunch, dinner AND breakfast!
We landed in Mumbai and had to rush for the connecting flight. Where we queued for 20 minutes to get through to passport control only to be told we were in the wrong line and had to join 'the women's queue' that had appeared out of nowhere! I could see the look of concern on Karen's face as we took on board how long the line was and time was ticking away fast to get to our next flight.
And then I realised, we didn't have to be British and queue up politely, we were in India now; we could just jump the queue and if anyone tried to say anything, we could just look them in the eye and wobble our heads! (Another lesson learned from last year!!) And, it worked, we were through in about 10 minutes.
Then with only 25 minutes to go, came the final hurdle; putting our hand luggage through security. And I was safe! No one questioned my decongestants, no one confiscated my chocolate and no one arrested me for attempting to take a packet of Percy Pigs across the border. We were home free ... I smiled at Karen with relief and then, everything seemed to move in slow motion, as her hand luggage was taken off the conveyor belt and over to the side to be examined!
The Indian security Guard looked up at Karen and smiled, then wobbled his head ... Karen looked confused. He walked up to her and said " a lighter? You have a lighter in here?" Karen explained that she didn't smoke. He smiled and wobbled his head.
I was trying not to panic as I knew time was running out, the flight was due to take off soon!
He slowly squeezed the bag, unzipped it and slowly took out her camera plus various attachments for it. Karen, the keen photographer, tried to explain what each part was for, the Security Guard smiled up at her, then wobbled his head.
By this point I was hoping Karen couldn't hear my erratic breathing as I tried not to think about missing the flight and having to spend the night at Mumbai airport.
The Security Guard slowly picked up her day pack and put it back under the x ray machine. Karen and I both exchanged a look wondering what it could be. We watched as the security guard walked over to one of his colleagues with the bag, they both looked at it, then they both wobbled their heads.
Then he walked back over to us, by which time I was already trying to work out if I should call Karen's parents before or after contacting the British Consulate, to let them know that she had been arrested. He looked at her and said " Mosquito". Then he wobbled his head.
We stared back at him, then he made a strange pinching gesture with his fingers and said "Mosquito" ... And wobbled his head.
Suddenly Karen exclaimed "Yes, yes I have a mosquito bite zapper stick in my bag!!". He smiled and handed her back the bag, said he was sorry, then wobbled his head and left us to re pack the bag!
And that was it, with 5 minutes to spare, we grabbed our belongings and dashed across to the farthest end of the airport to catch our flight! I thought I was going to pass out as we ran breathlessly with our hand luggage.
At last we reached the boarding gate with one minute to spare, only to find the lounge was full as the plane was running about 10 minutes late!
Well we were in India!
Finally we took off and were on our way to Bangkok! The flight was another 4 hours and curry was served for breakfast!