Although this is not my maiden visit to the United States, still the slight hesitation and doubt lingers. But, given the confidence by my husband, I thought the lone travel with connections should be a child's play.
It was a short one month vacation to Chicago. I got the first butterly in my stomach when I heard from my travel agent that there are no direct flights to Chicago, this means I have to change flights in between. But again, me knowing English and has travelled numerous times to other parts of the world alone, I felt this should not be a problem at all.
The D-day arrived and got dropped at the local airport by my husband. Although it was sad to leave him alone for a month, the thought of going to be with my children and grand daughter overcame the feelings. The first problem is the flight food. Me, being a strict vegetarian (not even liking to eat Pizza :), it is a tough task to find my kind of food outside my home in another country. The flight to Chicago via Atlanta was on time and I boarded looking for my seat. Warned by my husband to choose the aisle seat , I still went ahead with the window seat as I thought it would be cosy and not to miss the take off and landing sights thro' the window. But when I saw two men taking their seats beside me and sleeping throughout the flight till Atlanta, I repented having taken the window seat. It was a Herculean task for me to go out for my seat and politely requesting them to give way every time. Oh !!! The hostess came specially to me looking for someone who had booked Asian vegetarian diet. I was too pleased that they had not missed it. But when the food came, much to my disappointment, it was just cooked vegetables, all pale in color. The bread was too cold and would not rip out. Only the fruits were a solace to me. I started filling my stomach with juice and juice and juice.
The flight reached Atlanta. As previously mentioned, this is not my maiden visit to the US. So, I presumed there should not be any problem in Atlanta. But I had to offload my baggage and check it again as here was my immigration check. There was good two and half hours for me to do this. All is cool when thought of. But when it comes to reality, there arises the difficulties. When I came out of the airport, I awed in disbelief. Here is an airport which is almost four to five times huge than Heathrow ( I had earlier connections in Heathrow where I had to change flights while connections.) Gathering courage, I posed the query to the Help Desk who very politely told me to go to the respective Baggage claim and collect mine and recheck again. I am in a particular gate and the baggage claim section was closeby. I was too happy thinking all is well. Baggage checked in to Chicago and it was an almost 45 minutes job to claim and recheck. Left with just under two hours, slight tension started gripping in. The gate I was in is B3. My boarding gate was E14. I started walking briskly passed on all 'B's. Just then I realised there are too many gates in B. It was B 46 and still continuing as far as I could see. Again rescue to Help Desk who very politely told me that there is a shuttle which takes people to their respective gates. To reach to the shuttle, again a couple of escalators and some walking too. It was just over an hour for me to board by the time i waited for the shuttle. When I reached the 'E' gate, I figured out that I have to physically walk to E14. It was not only me who was running, I could see quite a few people who were up to it. Finally, boarded and reached Chicago. The only solace in Atlanta is we do not have pay for the trolley which is usually 3$ :):)
Having stayed in Chicago with a short visit to New Jersey to be with my elder daughter and grand daughter it was my time to depart to my home country. I was dutifully dropped at the airport by my daughter. The boarding time was 3.40 pm. At about 1 pm, there was a sudden change in the board of the gate that the particular flight will leave at 5 pm. My connecting flight at Atlanta again was at 9 pm. The reason for the delay is the sudden severe storm in Atlanta. I was told that my flight to my home country would not leave at 9 as all the flights are delayed. Some solace!!!! My flight finally took off only at 6.40 pm.
Here I am looking forward for another trip to US of A having the confidence and the experience of stop overs and last minute boardings.
The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything that comes along their way !!!!