ok, so the highly rated guesthouse conveniently near to the airport that i had planned to go to upon my 12:35 am arrival in bangalore was completely booked by the time i tried to make a reservation. i was in the shuttle on my way to the minneapolis airport at the time, or about 30 hours out from arrival in india, but this was far more planning than i had done for my arrival in new delhi in 1999 when i pretty much got shanghaied. so i figured i was way ahead of the game. and the good thing about leaving my reservation to the last minute and not getting a reservation at that conveniently near guesthouse was that the airport that the guesthouse was conveniently near is no longer an airport. and the new bangalore airport is nowhere conveniently near the highly rated guesthouse at which i had planned to stay. so that all worked out great.
my problem then became where to go instead.
and here’s where the kindness of strangers comes in.
the guy sitting next to me on the plane from paris to bangalore said the obligatory hello, buckled in, looked through the air france magazine from cover to cover, and then promptly took a nap. and i’m like, you know, it isn’t every day one flies from paris to bangalore, so you could perhaps say something more than hello.
but not a word. i thought he might be quite a grump.
after he awoke from his nap, however, he came to life and we started talking.
he was an indian computer engineer heading back home from a recent business trip to milwaukee. his name was anil, and we had such a nice conversation that by the time we landed he offered to meet me in baggage claim and let me use his cell phone to contact my friend ravi, who had said earlier in the day that of course i should stay at his house.
but anil did way more than let me use his cell phone to call ravi.
anil hung out in immigration -- where i told a very small little white lie about where i was staying -- because at that point i had no idea what ravi’s address was. and then he waited nearby as another airport official questioned me about what was in my bags. and then he watched over my baggage cart as i went to change some money. and then we found a place to sit down and he used his laptop to connect my iphone to the airport wi-fi so i could post a safe arrival notice on facebook. and then he bought us each a coffee and paneer wrap at coffee day at 2:30 am because we were both starving. and then he shared his taxi with me and helped me find ravi’s house, which i alone with the taxi driver in the middle of the night would never ever have been able to do in a hundred million years. and then he gave me his phone number and address and said if ever needed anything, he would do his best to help.
so on those days when i've been overcharged, glared at, or groped, i will try to remember my flight friend anil -- and the huge credit balance on the india account.