So this day I am not going to keep a fast reason: traveling. Another great example of how flexible Islam is. Islam means a way of life and thankfully Allah has given us Muslims so much flexibility that nobody should even raise an inkling of whine. Never mind people I always tend to digress towards my religious and emotional doctrines. That’s exactly the two important things around which my personality has evolved
Back to the realism. So morning 10:10 is my flight to LAX (Los Angeles International) airport from my very beloved ORD (O’Hare Chicago). I woke up at 6:30 in the morning pretty early considering the fact that I always tend to be late for my trips. I had to wake up S to drop me off at ORD. I have bugged him zillion times but that’s what friends are for. He hesitantly woke up and drove me to ORD.
Terminal 2, United Airways insanely crowded as always. I seriously wonder at what I witness at ORD, it one airport which is always freaking busy. At the check-ins, security scans, boarding pass kiosks, McDonalds, various restaurants, escalators, walk-ways everywhere there are hoards of people. It is like a huge gala fair at ORD every time I go there. This is why I love that airport so much. Though, it is so crowded you will still get your things done pretty quickly, thanks to the faultless management..
It was going to be a long flight around 3.5 hours and I didn’t want to sit in a small turbo prop or a jet. Those flights on short distance routes are so boring. No music, no in-flight entertainment, no meals nothing. Luckily for me it was a Boeing 747. No doubt, it was huge and all sorts of entertainment available.
I boarded the plane and sat down at seat #31F properly without any hassles. I did piss of a guy while I was stowing my luggage on the overhead bins. He had a poster which was lying there in the bin and I mistakenly scratched his poster with my suitcase wheels. I apologized but I could see that he was pissed off.
I didn’t care and just went to sleep while the passengers were still boarding. I was woken up by the air hostess who asked my boarding pass. I showed it to her and she exclaimed,”Sir ! You are supposed to be sitting at 3 7F and not 31F. She was freaked out because two people nearly fought because they both laid claim on the same seat, the priced seat on which I was sleeping. To add fuel, one of them was an insanely loud voiced African-American lady and the other person was an old Caucasian gentleman.
I apologized to both the parties and shifted to a seat where I was supposed to be seating at the first place. I sat down there wishing to find Coldplay on the radio. I franticly scanned every channel and finally one channel was playing X and Y (the latest sensational album from Coldplay). I was the happiest person on this god damn earth. I was so lost in the music that I forgot to turn off my cell phone when the flight was about to take off.
I rummaged my seat pockets and jeans pockets to search for my cell phone but my search was in vain. I told the person sitting next to me to give me a missed call and my phone started buzzing. It was ringing but I couldn’t locate the phone. Even the fellow passengers got freaked out. I finally found the phone in the seat pocket of the seat I mistakenly sat.
I turned the phone off and began to listen to Coldplay. Another, great news came. The air hostess announced that they were going to play Batman Begins during the flight. I was just euphoric. First Coldplay now Batman Begins what more could I ask for.
The air hostess came to serve the meal. Meal bullshit it was just a coke and packets of roasted peanuts. How does this qualify as a meal? Anyways I was still watching the movie and listening to Coldplay. She gave me a glass full of ice in which I was supposed to pour the coke and drink it. I kept it still engrossed in my movie. She gave me one more glass, I kept that glass too. She looked at me and said:”Sir! This glass is for the gentleman sitting next to you.”
I looked down at the tray and saw two glassed of ice. Then I realized it was for the person sitting next to me and gave it to him. I felt that there was something wrong with me. I was just lost in the aura of Coldplay. I guess I am obsessed with them now.
This was one of the best flight trips I have had in a long time. My seat too was far away from the lavatory. Last time, during my trip to San Francisco I sat on the last seat close to the lavatory and believe me it was horrible. People kept flushing the toilet and linearly no exponentially I kept loosing my peace of mind. I did learn one thing that when you use restroom like the ones on flight, please flush the toilet and then open the door. Otherwise you are really going to bother the people who are sitting close to the lavatory.
So, the flight reached LAX and here too I had to walk like one mile to reach the other gate from where I was suppose to catch a connecting flight to Santa Barbara. This was a turbo prop flight smaller than a bus. I had to bend down to enter the flight and reach my seat. The flight was little turbulent in the beginning but later it was smooth. I was sitting at the window seat and the view down was awesome. I could see the beautiful shoreline and the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean.
I reached the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) and it was blended in the colorful Hawaiian theme concomitant to the local population and climate. I headed for rental car and got an upgrade from compact to an economy sized car: a Buick Lacrosse. I was quiet nervous driving a car all alone for the first time but I had to do it and I endured.
I drove smoothly through the streets and treaded cautiously on highway US 101. Instead of going north I took a wrong exit ramp and headed south. I was going toward Santa Barbara then I realized and took an exit ramp and started on US 101 North towards Solvang. The drive was picturesque with humongous mountains on one side and the blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean on the other side.
I was following Yahoo maps and that’s the last thing in the world you would ever want to do especially in a place which you are visiting for the first time. It gave me the shortest distance fine but the road was a real adventure. I will never ever forget this road called Refugio road. It looked decent two lane road in the beginning but later it turned into a complete nightmare. First time driving a car all alone and that too a brand new car.
So, I kept following the road taking me deeper into the jungle. I could see nothing but dead squirrels, skunks and snakes on the road, ran over by vehicles. Yes, for the first time I did see some different kind of wildlife in this country other than the squirrels that are wandering all over Michigan. I seriously (I still have feelings attached to this word) didn’t expect dead skunks and snakes.
I kept going higher and higher on the hill making sharp turns with mountains on one side and a deep abyss on the other side. It started to get little creepy and I got doubtful about the credibility of the company I was going to interview with. I mean they would definitely wont advice someone new to that area to take that route. I thought of making calls but unfortunately there was no network.
I became nervous I had no choice but to keep following the road. I started to wish for seeing some person who could guide me out of that place or at least tell me where I was heading. I kept going and saw a road sign that said no road after 2 miles which meant a dead end.
I kept my fingers crossed and still kept going finally at the top of the hill just before the road was going to end, I found this old lady jogging weird. Whatever she was a flicker of hope I was waiting for. I pulled my windows down and asked her where I was heading. She advised me that with my car I wouldn’t be able to cross the swamp and it was better for me to make a u turn and head back to the highway.
I had no choice but to listen to her. I requested her to help me make a U turn and she did. I headed back down the street. It was scarier than coming up as I could see the abyss and the horizon right in front of me. The twists and turns were insanely hard but I did manage to slowly cautiously come out of that forest. I wish I had a camera, so that I could have shared some snaps with you people. It was eerily beautiful.
I got back on US 101 and headed north towards Solvang. I reached my luxurious motel where all the expenses were covered by the company I was interviewing with. It was insanely expensive but I had nothing to worry as it was all covered.
I went into my room and turned on the TV. Guess what I found. I switched to WB and Millville was being shown. I was so happy that I can’t put that in words. At the end of Smallville when Clark comes to meet Lana, guess what a new soundtrack by Coldplay. It was like a cherry on top of cake. I was just extremely cheerful.
I prayed and then prepared for my interview next morning. It was indeed the greatest most joyful day of my life which is going to go down the memory lane for a long time.