Excuse Me! I Can’t Find My Luggage
It’s a worst possible scenario involving missing bags, inadequate dressing and the mercury dropping to torturous levels
In a previous post, I had made an attempt to explain the convenience factor that makes me visit the Netherlands every once in a while. However, my first visit to the country was anything but convenient.
Years back, when I landed at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for the first time, I was in for a surprise, if not a shock. Having waited patiently at the conveyer belt for a considerably longer period, I eventually realized my luggage hadn’t arrived.
“Excuse Me! I can’t find my luggage. Can you please check and help me?” I asked the person at the counter meant for the purpose. The lady promptly checked and informed me that the same had been misplaced. I was told that the luggage was coming on the next flight. I was distraught but somehow didn’t lose my cool.
By then, two more officials had arrived at the counter. I was reassured that my luggage will be sent directly to the hotel I was booked in once it arrived, of course. I expressed my gratitude and made my way out of the airport. Fortunately, I had no trouble in finding the placard that carried my name.
To their credit, the office folks had behaved in a professional manner and made sure the chauffeur arrived well in advance. He was an elderly man, and not surprisingly, was surprised to see me come out only with cabin baggage. I explained my plight in double quick time before settling down.
Even as I headed to my hotel, looking at the canals and the streets we crossed, I realized it was a terribly cold morning in Amsterdam. The chauffeur assured me it would get colder as the day progressed. Worse still, I was wearing only a cotton shirt and a pair of trousers. All the woolens were neatly packed in my luggage, one that got delayed in transit. Making matters worse was the fact that I was required to travel a lot during the day.
While the cold made me feel miserable every time I ventured out, there was another thing that made me a lot more uncomfortable. Everywhere I went, I was being asked the same question.
“Aren’t you feeling cold?” After a couple of occasions, I stopped explaining. It made no sense. Few would have made an effort to understand in any case. Besides, while I was shivering initially, after a point my body had got used to the cold and windy conditions. Darwin was right all along. The struggle for existence is always followed by the survival of the fittest.
It was an unusually long and exhausting day. I was waiting in eager anticipation to get back to the warmth of my hotel room, but my ordeal was yet to end. Towards the evening, it started to rain. As if I had not suffered enough, there was more bad news to come. I was informed that the chauffeur assigned to me wasn’t well and I would have to look for another alternative to return that evening.
Presumably caught in the worst-case scenario, I got out of the premises, saw a tuk tuk and proceeded to try my luck. It was not meant to be. The driver offered to drop me at a nearby station, not any further. I do not blame him, though. He was winding up for the day and heading to be with his family.
Across the road, I saw a hotel that belonged to an eminent international chain. I happened to have stayed in their properties on a couple of occasions and could sense a solution to my problem. I proceeded to seek help. It took some effort, and more importantly, a lot of generosity from this young lady receptionist, to make an arrangement for someone who wasn’t even a guest on the property. In any case, transport was arranged, and I got back to the hotel.
It was a relief to find the luggage in my room. There was a party scheduled for later in the evening, but I was too exhausted to venture out again. As such, I opted for the convenience of room service, had dinner pretty early and hit the bed.
The exhausting day I had endured demanded nothing less than adequate and appropriate rest, sans any further disturbance. As such, I had not forgotten to switch off the phone.
The following morning, I was well prepared, with multiple layers of clothing and an additional jacket in the bag. The weather had, albeit, taken a complete turn. It was unusually warm, and the mercury was rising continuously. The manner in which I had dressed up seemed stupid, just as it had a day before. Only the circumstances had changed.
“In the Netherlands the weather conditions can change very fast,” an English colleague, who had spent a considerable part of his life living in Dutch country, told me later.
After many years, and following multiple trips to the Netherlands, I was there one more time, in Haarlem, on this occasion. It was during a casual discussion with a few friends from across Europe that I was asked about my most unusual experience in the Netherlands. I narrated the incident that occurred during my maiden trip to the country.
A couple of those I was hanging out with that evening hailed from the country whose national carrier I flew on that occasion, and they assured me I wasn’t the only one who faced such a situation with my belongings. Misplaced luggage in Europe isn’t a recent phenomenon, I was told.
Those wonderful people also told me that I was definitely not the first person to suffer from such an ordeal. What they failed to understand rather didn’t attempt to was the fact that I was not that I was complaining. On the contrary, I was simply telling them what had happened to me.
I have taken the flight to (and from) Schiphol quite a few times thereafter. I have never again faced any luggage-related issues. In the hindsight, I have come to believe the experience I had during my maiden trip to Netherlands only happened to make sure that it remains etched in my memory as an anecdote, and that I always remember it.
As regards planning and making another trip to the Netherlands, suffice to say I never forget that part.