Trip to Czech Republic: Delhi to Prague – Part I

First Girlfriend, First Passport application, First time to an International Airport, First time in a plane, First time to a Foreign Land, so many things…and all happened for the very FIRST time! Is that what you call ‘love just happens’?   
Life started to change when I met some foreigner friends in Shimla and then in Amritsar at the time of Diwali last year. Since then, life has been busy and interesting with travel to new destinations and meeting new people. The best trip came last month when I got an invitation to visit my dear friend Alenka who belongs to Czech Republic in Europe. 
From old red roof buildings to castles of amazing people, the very idea was so exciting! I didn’t have much time to plan things meticulously. Not that I wanted to…. I wanted to just rush and not miss the opportunity in any way! There was loads to arrange which started from money, office leaves (I had already taken more than 72 leaves in last 1.2 years for bad health and of course, my travel adventures), invitation letter to passport and much more. I am unable to describe the happiness in words when after lots of struggle and shayanpanthi (sorry I cannot say it cheating) and of course, some good luck, I got my Passport. Believe me, this shitty small piece of paper is damn difficult to get here in India and I will rate it as one of my achievements in last 22 years. The decision day was close and Alenka also managed to send me an “invitation letter” which was supposed to help with the visa process (I thank her for that). With the dream of my maiden foreign trip and billions of thoughts in my heart, I went to the Czech embassy in Chanakya Puri for my visa application the very next day. It took me two hours to submit the form and I waited for another two hours for the interview. I learnt the word “Ahoi” from Alenka and decided to use it and impress the Czech woman interviewing. It was a short interview for 10 minutes I guess that I almost messed it up. Here is an excerpt:

“Interviewer: So is it your first Europe trip?

Me: Yes, it is.

Interviewer: Okay. How do you know Mr. David? 

Me: David? Oh yeah! He is father of my friend, Alenka.

Interviewer: hmm, how do you know Alenka?

Me: Ahh! We were studying Hindi in Kendriya Hindi Sansthan from last one year.

Interviewer: Who is sponsoring your trip?

Me: Myself.
Interviewer: Do you work?

Me: Yeah. I work for TERI (The energy and Resources institute).”
Now here comes the tricky question with a suspicious look on her face.

“Interviewer:  so in last year you were working with TERI and studying Hindi also?”
Nervasia gaye Hum aur bole…
“Me: nah I wasn’t studying with her, I was just helping her in her Hindi classes. “
After that she checked my documents for the trip which included the invitation letter, my air tickets and more. Now, here comes the twist – I forgot to take a print (I was so dam nervous you see) of my return ticket from Prague to Delhi. She asked me “Are you not coming back to India?” It occurred to me that all my hard work was about to go down the drain but my ever-so-expensive hobby of having luxurious mobiles gave me some instant relief. I offered her to show the tickets right now on my mobile. The lady was kind enough and told me to submit the hard copy later to the embassy. I breathed a sigh of relief. With huge expectations and new dreams, I came back to the office and started to await an amazing journey. A journey full of surprises was in front of me. I did not know how things would be when I got there. I only knew that I was just going to do something which I may not even have dreamt of doing so and that too so early in my life. With no connections abroad and no specific thoughts of making career abroad, I became among those select people who travel for adventure. In my case, it was a little more than that. This journey would also include my meeting with someone – someone special who came into my life all of a sudden and life changed. In fact, I did not even know how to put this relation under a category. I may look tough by face but I am quite emotional at heart. I never knew that this trip would give a definition to whatever I felt and would change my future vision. Finally, I got my visa too, surprisingly left from office easily and started to prepare for the first trip to a foreign wonderland.   
My flight was at 4.30am in the morning and I decided to reach the airport around 1:00 A.M. I took my parents blessings and thanked them in my heart for being so understanding (none of them asked me why, where, when). I was surprised to see our own Indira Gandhi International Airport (though we spent 2.1 Billion $ on it) which seemed out of the usual India in simple words. I went inside the airport and my feelings fell somewhere between nervousness and excitement. Everything looked like a dream and Rohit Tripathi was moments away from his dream trip to Europe or say to see ‘Alenka in wonderland’. Fantasizing the future and decorating them with Alenka’s stars, I was looking forward to the ‘unknown’. To be Continue….

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