Since a long time I was waiting to go abroad or was looking for an opportunity when I can actually use my passport rather than just using it as an Identity proof in India. Finally in the month of October 2012 we got the hint that we may get an opportunity to go outside India for my husband’s office project. First country name came to us was Japan, then Hongkong , then Netherland and then finally Canada.
First thing was document collection required for Visa Process . Except Marriage certificate we had all the documents required for Visa. October we went to Ujjain (My wedding place) (http://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/10/11/musical-trip-to-mahakal-nagri-via-mecca-madina-1/) and submitted our application for marriage certificate.
After the long wait of 2 months, we got our marriage certificate with hundreds of follow ups with the Marriage Registrar. As soon as we received our Marriage certificate we had filled up our Visa application form and finally the Visa got stamped in the month of January 2013 and dates of travelling was keep on shifting after every fortnight due to certain official reasons. And in the end we got our travel ticket for the journey date of March 29, 2013 by British Airways.
There was one more family and 2-3 office colleagues who were also travelling to Canada but unfortunately they got tickets in a different flight (Jet airways from Delhi) and we were lucky because we got last three tickets of British Airways flight directly from Chennai.
In British Airways (BA), we had one major advantage that we were able to bring maximum of our luggage as BA are very generous regarding luggage to be carried. We were allowed 2 x 23 kgs bags/passenger in checked in and 1 x 23 kg bag /passenger in cabin. We had taken full advantage of baggage limits and packed 9 suitcases and bags.
We had tried to pack all the important stuffs like our documents, winter clothing , summer clothing, books and Kitchen Utensils/Groceries so that we will survive till we get our first salary. It was like a 7 days shopping “mela” for us before our departure. We were so tired with our shopping and in the end we were literally praying GOD that “please ab humein jaldi CANADA pahucha dijiye”. Shopping, packing, checking bag weight, checking bag sizes were our daily job at Chennai before coming to Canada.
Our flight was scheduled for March 29, 2013 at 0400 hrs. It was a mixed feeling for me to leave Chennai/India. First, I would not be able to see my family members for one long year, secondly we have to celebrate all important Indian festivals alone this time as we can’t come back to India soon. At around 2345 we bid Goodbye to my dearest place/locality/my house at Chennai and reached airport at around 0020 hrs.
Bringing our luggage from first floor of our house to Ground floor, loading it in the cab and then again unloading it at Airport, we were half tired and praying God that everything should go smooth. There were two men standing just next to our cab (Like a Coolie/porter ) and offered us to take our luggage till check in. We were tired and we accepted their offer. As soon as we entered , near Entry gate we found BA staff and they said they will assist us till check in. We said thank you to other 2 guys paid them 1/3 of what they had asked and moved further.
The boys first took us to the point before check in counter where we can check bags weight and size. While checking bags weight and size we found our handbags are little extra in size and two of our bags are overweight. We were aware of overweight issues . As we checked weights of all bags at home as well as at Local waste paper mart just to get a clear idea about weights. We were ready to pay extra money for overweight bags.
Then the BA boys requested us if they can open and shuffle the bags items to bring it the baggage limit. They had opened our all 9 bags and did something in 5 minutes and within 5 minutes our all bags were within bags limit and as per the required dimensions. Good, this is what we call experience or expertise.
So we reached check in counter, our checked in baggage got deposited and we got our boarding pass. As we had done online check in, we did not spend much time at the counter. The boy then requested the lady at the counter if they can take 2 more bags from our handbags as we had kid travelling with us. We were acting like dumb as we never asked for this and he has asked on his own . The lady refused and we had taken our handbags i.e. 3 small trolley suitcase and 01 laptop bag .We thanked both boys and moved to the Custom line. Filled up forms for Custom, submitted at Custom counter , answering them the questions they had asked and moved ahead.
It is almost now 0230 hrs and we were feeling so tired and sleepy. We were just passing our time by roaming at Airport so that we should not sleep. At around 0330 hrs call for boarding was announced and we moved to boarding gate.
At the Boarding gate the Lady who had given us our boarding pass came to us and asked us if we still wants to send our hand baggage in checked in baggage as we have kid travelling with us. We were carrying 3 sweaters and 3 thick winter jackets in our hands and was happy that they are ready to take 2 more baggage. We asked her whether it is chargeable and she said it is absolutely free as they can now adjust our luggage.
We handed over two more bags to her and she had given us receipts. Finally we boarded plane and sharp at 0400 hrs plane started. We were all in a mood of sleeping fast but at 0430 hrs announcement were made that they are serving breakfast now. We were hungry also, so we were waiting for breakfast to come. Due to different choices of meals our breakfast choice was not coming soon.
They were first serving Jain food. As my son was in a mood to sleep I requested hostess if she can bring one meal just for him as he is tired , hungry and small. The air hostess (Not an Indian) was very rude, impolite and she straight forward refused us telling if he is hungry even others are also hungry so he has to wait. I wanted to tell her that others are not kid, by the time I speak something she quickly left.
Back to my story, later we got our Breakfast, we had our breakfast and slept. It was 12 hours journey from Chennai to London where we had to change the flight for Toronto. We were so tired that we all slept at around 0500 and woke up only when it was announced that we are reaching London. At around 0930 hrs (London Time) we landed London.
In the flight itself there were videos playing showing details about route to be followed for connecting flight or for flights from other terminal. We were lucky that we had our connecting flight from same terminal only. As soon as we came out of plane, we were following direction sign’s which were so properly placed that we didn’t find any difficulty in reaching our terminal.
It was a very good feeling for me that I was standing at “Heathrow Airport” at London. Even though we are not allowed to go out, also we didn’t have time to go out, then also I was very happy. Finally I am at London (Having worked at British High Commission, I know what London really means for all employees of British High Commission).
At London we had to again cross the customs and Security clearance. The security checking was very strict and was quite a bit rude also. May be being an Indian we always expect very polite and courteous behavior. But that is again their duty and we should cooperate with them. We were asked to remove our jackets, belt, shoes, socks etc. It was not a very good moment for me.
After clearing security checking we were instructed about our gate and terminal number. For going to terminal we had to use Tube train (Underground train service).As I heard a lot about these services, I was excited to see train. I think there are very few airports in world which uses train for internal transfers and Heathrow is one of them. There was nothing great in that tube train. It is similar to our Delhi Metro and it runs between one terminal to another with just 3 stoppages. Still, I was excited as I read about it and now I am using it.
We reached near Gate no 44 from where our next flight was scheduled for departure. Boarding announcement was made and we boarded the plane. It was same type of plane in which we travelled from Chennai to London. But the crowd this time was very different. More Foreigners, less Asians. There were just 3-4 Asian families in the plane. At around 1230hrs (London time) plane started and air hostess has started serving Lunch. This time we got lunch in the starting itself. As I said there were less Asian, thus priority given to serve them Asian Vegetarian food first.
In India flight there were less Jain food eater, thus priority given to them. We had our lunch and started exploring movies. Again in 2 hours time we all slept and woke up at Toronto J. I am really not sure what does it mean when people say Jet Lag. But because we slept a lot in plane I didn’t feel any tiredness etc when we got down at Toronto. At around 1600 hrs (Toronto time) we reached Toronto. It was a big Terminal, with very less crowd. There are many Slow speed moving walkway installed at the airport to reach near exit gate.
We then stood in a custom queue for Visitors. There were two lines one for Permanent Residence and another for Visitors. Custom officer checked our passport and Visa and guided us to another hall. Inside the hall, it was a long queue. When our turn came lady officer asked us to sit at the waiting area inside hall. She has started checking our documents.
She took almost an hour to check our documents. We then proceeded to baggage claim area. As soon as we entered in baggage claim area, we saw number of porters standing with trollies.4 Bags 10$, above 4 bags, each bag 3$.We came in baggage claim area and none of the conveyor was displaying our flight number. We rushed to BA counter, but there was no staff at the counter. We were unable to find any co passengers also at the airport.
We were searching bags all over the baggage claim area. Near one belt conveyor we found few bags. When we went there we saw our bags. We quickly started collecting our bags. One from one corner, second from another corner, third from some other place etc. While collecting we thought definitely the other 2 handbags which we had deposited afterwards must be missing , but luckily we found those two bags.
Now counting started 1, 2,3….One bag is missing. To our surprise the bag which had all Kitchen items specially (Rolling pin and board for Chapati) and groceries was missing. We were then searching BA staff so that we can inform about our missing bag. There was no BA staff at the airport. Then we saw a lady coming towards baggage area and she was BA staff. We informed her. She asked us to fill up the form about missing baggage and ensured that they will search the bag and will let us know the status within 24 hrs. We then decided to hire porter as it was not easy for us to carry 10 bags in 2 trollies.
We had hired porter, he has loaded our luggage in the trolley and took us to the taxi point. We then hired a taxi on flat rate which means fixed rate. The Driver , a very handsome Greek man :) quickly loaded our entire luggage in cab. On our way he started talking to us. We were not very much interested , but he was talking very nicely in a well mannered way.
After experiencing BA staff behavior we were bit relaxed that this person is talking so nicely. He told us, “not to worry, initially 1-2 week you will find difficult then slowly-2 you will start liking the place. This place is good, people here are good. And you are lucky that you are coming in spring. It’s now just 5 degree and soon summer will start”. He was not aware what 5 degree temperature actually means to Chennai people….. :)
We reached at our Apartment within 20 minutes and were thanking GOD that we reached safely without much of hassles except the hassle of lost bag, BA staff rude behavior.
This is my first journey abroad which was no happy-go-lucky trip. But still I am thankful to GOD that we reached properly. By the way after daily follow ups we found our bag in 6 days after spending some dollars on grocery and food items. We are trying to settle here adjusting with the weather, culture and new technology. In the first week itself we saw freezing rain, Snow storm , heavy rainfall…..Still, I am enjoying this experience.
CN Tower and Ontario lake on its way in my next post….Keep Reading
Greening tip for today’s post is:
Turn on AC only if it is really necessary. Use a fan, it keeps air cool and uses less energy.
Some Images are Courtesy : wikimedia
PS: Apologies for only few pictures from my end.