Anyone remember my post about my birthday last year? I complained that I hadn’t done much, my friend’s little brother went missing (found after an hour or so), I spent a few hours at the hospital getting a leg injury checked out (gravity was the problem), blah blah blah. I think at the end I said that next year’s would have to be better….woww…
Many of you will have seen on Facebook that this year’s was a bit of a farce too. Here is the full story.
Last Wednesday, my best mate from school mentioned that she was headed to a small island in Malaysia for a couple of days with some friends. Knowing that she was headed there on my birthday, she asked if I wanted to go. Spontaneity being somewhat lacking in my life, I decided I would. I booked a ticket on Thursday, left Jessore by bus on Friday and headed to the airport in Dhaka. My flight was at 11:40 p.m., due to land in KL at 5:25 on the morning of my birthday.
By 11:15, we were all on the plane and ready to go. The engines started revving up, then stopped. They revved some more, and stopped again. After a few minutes, the captain explained that there was a small technical problem that would just take a few minutes to fix. A few minutes passed, and a few more. Then another 30.
By this point, I was getting concerned about having enough time on the other end. I needed to take a taxi from the airport to a ferry terminal, meet Claire and then take the last ferry of the day to the island. The ferry left at midday. The taxi journey reckoned to be 5-6 hours. Ho humm.
By half past midnight, with the stairs still in place and the aircraft door open, I was pretty certain that I wasn’t going to make it to the ferry. I pinged the call button. When the stewardess came, the man sitting in the same row as me complained to her that he was hot and starting to sweat. She assured him that it wouldn’t be much longer. She didn’t tell him to take his suit jacket and tie off, which I might have done, but anyway, she then walked away. I pinged again. A different stewardess came, and was greeted by the same man complaining about his swack. She placated him as per the stewardess manual, and left. Once more, I pinged. A third stewardess came (no doubt pre-warned about the old fellow and his beaded brow) and Mr. Suit-and-tie started again. I cut in. “I’m sorry, I know he is very concerned about being warm, but I have no reason to go to Malaysia at this point. While I understand that he is upset by his sweating, we are now so late that I can’t make it to my own birthday lunch. Can you please let me off the plane?”
Confused stares ensued. The stewardess asked me to wait a moment. After 10 minutes (with the door still open), I gave another ping. New stewardess. I explained once again, and once again asked to be let off the stupid plane. She left to ask the captain but, before I received any verbal reply, I knew the answer. The door closed and the steps were being pushed away. I briefly entertained the idea of faking a panic attack or stabbing Mr. Sweaty-knickers with a biro to get myself forcibly removed from the plane, but chickened out in the end. Instead, I cried during take-off.
Somewhere close to KL, I gave my final ping and informed the stewardess that, as I had missed all chance of making it to my birthday date, I wanted to go back to Dhaka on the return leg of the same flight and, if that was impossible, the airline would need to pay for my hotel in KL overnight.
We landed at 7:30, 2 hours and 5 minutes later than scheduled. A member of the local staff checked that he had understood correctly and I really did want to go straight back to Dhaka. I did. He found my luggage, took me to the boarding gate, hand-wrote me a boarding pass, and I got back on the plane.
By 10:30 a.m., I had arrived back in Dhaka and was hitting the duty free. Turns out Smirnoff is a fairly good silver lining.
All was not lost, however, as I headed into Gulshan and set up camp at my boss’ apartment for a couple of days. I shopped, I ate, I had a disgustingly rich chocolate fudge birthday cake and I met up with my best person, Kakon, his sister and cousins for some quality family time before heading back to Jessore yesterday.
Next year, though…that is going to be an amazing birthday!