3 Strangers, 4 Airports

I met two strangers at an airport in China, and they ended up babysitting me for the next 20 hours.

I was standing in the transfer line at Guangzhou airport after missing my connecting flight to Sydney, along with 36 others, when I thought back to where this all started. I was a 7-year-old girl, innocuously watching a film in which they showed a brief glimpse of Australia. A glimpse that triggered an undying love for the country; The kind of love that consumes you little by little every day until one day it swallows you whole and you can’t think about anything else but saving up to travel there one day. And so, I did.

The thing about my luck is that it’s thoroughly predictable, I can always count on it to not show up. So you can imagine exactly how unsurprised I was when I missed the connecting flight. I remember feeling particularly anxious because I had a grand total of 0 clues about what was going to happen next, standing in the transfer line without knowing where I was transferring.

With sore feet, lack of sleep and the stress of being completely unreachable to my family back home and friends anxiously awaiting my arrival in Australia, I mustered enough courage to ask the nice gentleman who was standing behind and beside me (at different points during the wait) for his functional phone to call my mother.

Upon further investigation, we realised the nice gentleman, who introduced himself as Push, and I graduated from the same high school 5 years apart. In a matter of minutes, we were in conversation with another man who was right in front of us in the queue. Saurav was from India and had lived in Australia for the last 14 years. His family, like mine was the one of the first 100 families to move to Gurgaon back in the 90s. What were the odds? Seemed crazier in the moment, to be fair.

It took us a total of 7 minutes to become the perfect trio, forming a sturdy structure that held up in the coming hours faced with difficult questions; the toughest one being — Do we want to stay in Guangzhou for the next 13 hours to take the next outbound fight to Sydney, or do we want to fly to Singapore, wait a couple hours and be on our way? We unanimously decided to hop backwards to another country before making it to our final destination.

We got breakfast and made our way to Singapore and had a few hours to kill.

As you may already know know, Changi airport is a country in itself, and so we had to get on the train and make our way to the next terminal. I had to fight the urge to get down on my knees in prayer because I had resourceful companions who would lead the way. Look at that, my ever so elusive luck made a special appearance!

The last time I left the country, I was a minor, shadowing my elder sister. I have no recollection of immigration or even customs, I breezed through that journey because I was an overly coiffed child who had everything done and figured out for her.

I want to say that we shared our experiences and thoughts with each other and became the best of friends, but strangely enough the interaction was as fleeting as you can imagine. In the cross-country bubble we created for ourselves, we were the best of friends, looking out for each other. But standing at baggage claim, watching the last piece of luggage careen towards us I couldn’t help but think I will probably never see these boys again. If it weren’t for them, I might have been writing the story about how I ended up in the Galapagos Islands.

Originally written for Nooks And Valleys



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