One fine day my company asked me to travel to Toronto for a month to attend requirement meetings. Anxious, the first thing I did was what anyone my kind would do. Google! I looked up where Canada was on the map, searched further for Toronto and on and on until I narrowed it down to the hotel I’d be staying, location of my office and food arrangements nearby. My first international travel, it was natural to be anxious.
Fast forward 2 weeks, I was on a Lufthansa plane to Pearson Airport, Toronto. Loaded with basic groceries, essentials (and some non-essentials) cramped in a single check-in bag, a cabin bag and a laptop bag. My father was, to say the least, paranoid about my safety and baffled at the sight of my luggage. According to him, I should be able to lift and move all the luggage by myself (without carts) in case of emergency. So the day before my flight, I had to go through a “drill”. He asked me to carry all my luggage down a flight of stairs and arrange into the car trunk, then lift it all out and carry it back a flight of stairs, all in a single trip. Thankfully, I passed the drill and was allowed to carry most of the luggage.
I didn’t know what to expect from my first international trip even after doing a thorough research. All I knew was, this trip would be a life-changing experience, either positive or negative. Fortunately, it went the former way.
Colleagues and friends had given precise instructions including which taxi to hire, approximate fare, exorbitant prices charged by people offering ‘help’ with luggage, using airport WiFi for calling home, appropriate tips etc. Immigration went smooth and soon I steered my luggage cart out of the airport and hailed a cab. The cab driver, an Asian, played Hindi songs on the radio and gladly answered my questions about the city. The weather could not have been better, it was 25 degrees C. Sunny, crisp and pleasant. I thought things were going pretty well.
Just when I thought that, the hotel receptionist said there’s no booking under my or my company’s name! Imagine that! New country, first solo travel and no hotel to stay! Worse, it was a long weekend and my company had an off the following day as well! I tried hard not to panic.
First thing, I asked for the WiFi password and got my mobile and laptop on the grid. Next thing, called the admin who arranged my logistics. She didn’t answer.
Next, called my onshore manager. She didn’t answer.
I requested the receptionist to book any available room for me on the spot. On swiping my credit card, she said I didn’t have enough credit limit to block.
Now I was worried! I told her to make the booking just for 2 days, that would be enough time to get in touch with someone from office. She handed over the key card to my room and wished me a good day. I pulled the luggage into my room and plopped on the warm inviting bed after a 22 hours long journey and the booking disaster. A shower and a hot meal sounded tempting but I couldn’t muster the energy to pull myself out of the bed, what with the jet-lag acting like gravity.
I gave in.
Read about the rest of my Toronto experience here!