Past Travels: Hullo United Kingdom!

It is three years too late to post this and it makes not much sense to do so, but I think this is a chapter of my life that needs to be blogged about just because it was a defining moment in my life.

You remember that much anticipated, feared and joked about Mayan Doomsday prophecy of 2012? The night of 22nd December, 2012, I was in a plane gazing down upon the brilliantly lit up city of Mumbai. I never thought a polluted and nauseating city like Mumbai could look so pretty at night. As I sat there, I thought, ‘Oh well, if the world does come to an end, at least I’ll be in the air’. I think I completely forgot about it within a few minutes when I felt a strange feeling take over me as I realized I was leaving my country, if only for a few weeks. It was after all the very first time I was travelling abroad, and I had just turned 16 three months ago. I listened to good music and waited until I could fiddle with the small television screen in front of me.

By the time I landed at Heathrow, I had finished watching three movies and had not slept a wink. I was so excited to see a new country and my sister that I could not miss the descent. The view from my window was a stark contrast to any Indian airports, if my memory serves me right. In India, you could feel the heat outside through your eyes as you watched ground crews scuttle from one location to another without a cheer on their faces. Here, there seemed to be a chill in the air outside. I waited until everyone had finished descending, just because I was an unaccompanied minor and was told by the charming air hostess to do so.

Eventually, I found myself at the front of the immigration line accompanied by two men who seemed super professional and like special agents or something. The kind lady at the immigration counter asked me for how long I would be there, where I would be staying and other normal questions that nonetheless made me nervous(I was 16 and travelling alone for the first time!). She wished I have a good time during my stay and allowed me to pass.

I was taken two levels below and to the ground level. The agent waited by my side. I spotted a smartly dressed girl with bouncing brown-black hair walk towards me. It took me a few seconds to recognize her. I smiled, feeling safe and secure as I called out to her. The agent left me with her after confirming that she was the one who was supposed to pick me up.

 

I still remember the first breath of the UK air I had inhaled as I exited the airport doors- pure, devoid of any pollution and extremely refreshing. It was freezing cold and wet, and the surroundings were bathed in the blue light of dawn, something I found to be characteristic to the UK.

‘Welcome to the UK!’, said my sister.

It was a welcome indeed!

 

I was ready to begin the best experience of my teenage life.

 

*

Continuing Post: “ Caerdydd, the heart of Wales