If god exists, he’s looking out for me

Karachi, Pakistan, Spring 2005, while watching the smoke rise from the bombing at the US Consulate, which destroyed half of the Marriott Hotel, 5 minutes after I walked out of the building. My room was on the other side of the building, so I continued staying there for the rest of the week. I figured, what’s the likelihood that this place gets bombed twice in the same week ?

If god exists, he’s still looking out for me

Islamabad, Pakistan, Fall 2008, after hearing that the Marriott Hotel had been bombed, one week after I checked out. This time, the entire hotel was destroyed.

What the hell am I doing here? I didn’t sign up for this when I became a banker…

Sana’a, Yemen, Summer 2005, standing under a massive sign banning people from bringing guns into the office where I was going to spend the rest of the week. There were some confused looking locals standing around and arguing in Arabic about where to keep their AK-47s when they went into the office to pay their phone bills. The security guard was friendly enough to offer to hold on to them. He offered them a ‘token’ as evidence, which looked similar to what you get when you leave your bags at the entrance of Shopper’s Stop.

There are a lot of racist people floating about this planet

Zurich, Switzerland, Summer 2010, after being the only person in the EU Passports immigration queue to be stopped and have his passport examined. Could it have been purely a matter of coincidence that I was also the only person with colored skin in the queue?

Are consular staff required to leave common sense at the door when they come into work or are they fundamentally stupid?

London, UK, Spring 2008, after having the Spanish Consulate turn down a tourist visa on the grounds that I had only 3.5 months left on my UK work visa. They had a letter from my employer confirming that my visa would be renewed and had copies of my bank statements and salary slips. Did they really think that an educated, qualified and highly paid professional would illegally immigrate to Spain and work at a petrol bunk if their visa extension was refused?

I must be dreaming, This cannot be real.

Prague, Czech Republic, Summer 2007, as the only Indian person standing in the Bombay Cocktail Bar where a large number of young and stylish Czech people were dancing the Bhangra to Malkit Singh’s Gur Nalon Ishq Mitha.

Some parts of this planet are incredibly beautiful

British Airways flight over the Himalayas, Fall 2004. Till you see it for yourself on a clear sunny day, you cannot fully comprehend the vastness and the incomparable beauty of the Himalayas.

That oversized double-decker bus with wings cannot possible fly

Heathrow, UK, Fall 2007, on first seeing an Airbus 380 aircraft. As it turns out, it could fly. I guess its no surprise that I didn’t make it as an engineer.

It would have been so awesome if I could have flown in that aircraft, even just once

Birmingham, UK, Fall 2003, while standing on the street and watching the last British Airways Concorde aircraft make its goodbye-lap over the city before being permanently withdrawn from commercial service. I hope that supersonic commercial aviation will once again become possible during the course of my lifetime.

It must be awesome to be a billionaire

Mumbai Airport Taxiway, on numerous occasions, while looking at dozens of gleaming luxurious private jets from the window of a crowded aircraft filled with a high proportion of people who have successfully ignored all the innovative advertising for deodorant spray.

Travel can me measured in many ways –  number of fights, frequent flyer miles collected, number of passports filled (5 ‘jumbo’ passport booklets in 5 years for me), number of countries visited. For me, I measure it by collecting memories of these various encounters and the resulting thoughts and emotions that have fundamentally changed the way I view the world.  In my view, travel is the most effective way to open your mind, develop tolerance for diversity, and appreciate how amazing life can be.

Originally published in Frappe