N boarded his flight to Germany on saturday afternoon. The kids, Amma, and I headed out to the beach with friends and had a wonderful evening. Come sunday morning, I checked the Lufthansa website for flight status and confirmed that N’s flight reached (30 minutes early!). Had a relaxed sunday afternoon at home and a fabulous time at the Firefly Festival at a local farm with K & S’s family on sunday night. What a lovely weekend, and N is missing all this, I thought. Called his hotel a couple of times before leaving for the farm but heard each time that he hadn’t checked in yet. It was still early evening in Germany, and I knew N had a lot of events at the conference starting sunday afternoon. So, alarm bells didn’t go off yet. Which is just as well (why chumma ruin my weekend, no?).
Monday morning – I called N’s hotel bright and early and the person at the desk informed me that N had still not checked in. This was really weird. It was then over 36 hours since he had left, and it was not like him at all to not contact home and let us know he arrived safely. I decided to drop his assistant, M, a note but couldn’t figure out what M’s email address would be (with her hyphenated name and all). So I wrote to the only person I could think of – his boss, Z.
Z quickly set things in motion (after all, it is not everyday you encounter melodramatic Indian wife at American workplace). Z contacted M, who efficiently called N’s hotel as well as the hotel where the conference was being held. And reported back that he had not checked in at both places, and that she felt worried too and hoped he would contact us soon. Which really chilled me. At this point, I was at work on a rainy and gloomy monday morning sitting in a conference room waiting for a client to call in. With my esteemed colleague talking about in situ groundwater remediation using reactive nano-scale iron particles and abbreviating it as RNIP on a piece of paper in front of me. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I told my colleague that I was dealing with all this stuff and that I needed to leave and figure out what to do next. He was well-meaning but couldn’t have come up with what he said next at a worse time. “Are you going to be calling the Embassy to go search for him? I once had a relative who was deathly ill in Singapore and the US Consulate personnel went and found him”, he remarked. I was taken aback. “I haven’t figured out what I should do next”, I managed to reply calmly, even though my mind was racing. I then asked him to deal with the client on his own, and left the room. I was thinking – “Embassies, really? Which one? The US Consulate? The Indian Embassy?”
Meanwhile, I also had strange images of the worst possibilities –
(1) N lying in a ditch enroute from Frankfurt to Stuttgart (Why lying in a ditch, of all things? Who knows? This confirms that I do have a wild imagination, I will grant you that. Why all this active zen-ning is going on, do you think?).
(2) N losing all his luggage, cash, and passport, and – having forgotten all his German from grad school (Well, I did all his German homework back in grad school, so not really sure he got much German into his head in the first place) – standing around not knowing what to do (Hmmm… This is a grown man on a business trip, not my newborn baby. Also, they do speak English in Deutscheland, don’t they? Not that I cared to remember such little details.).
(3) Scenario my colleague contributed – N being wildly sick in his hotel room. But which hotel room? Considering none of the hotels even admitted that he ever checked in!!
So anyway, with mind working overtime cranking out worst-case scenarios (and one little optimistic scenario about weight loss potential of whole stressful situation), I went back to my office and decided to check my email for one last time before heading home to figure out who to call for assistance. Meanwhile, M had contacted the conference organizers (at my suggestion before I left to start my abandoned meeting) and another colleague of N’s who was also attending the conference (also at my suggestion). N’s colleague thankfully replied promptly – “I am sitting with N now. He’s fine, just doesn’t have phone and internet access. He says “Hi””.
Imagine what I felt when I read that.
My abandoned colleague advised me later – “Now that it turns out he’s ok, you should just kill him.” I must admit that I did consider that option briefly. Turns out N did have really good reasons (totally dysfunctional hotel that his assistant had mistakenly booked – 30 miles away from the conference, no internet, phone lines that were down, receptionist that didn’t understand much english and told me that he hadn’t checked in when he had, etc.). There were other travails too – bad food, cramped up quarters, taxis that wanted Euros in cash (no credit cards) – the list went on. I told him that he should perhaps write a guest post here about his German adventures – not that he wants to write in detail about this stuff, or even think about it again. That bad!!
Still. I had the last say (well, the last several says) when we finally chatted another 36 hours later – now that he’s switched to a civilized hotel with a phone line and internet access: “How about you go searching for a pay phone to let me know you reached? Or perhaps request that colleague to use his cell phone to call me or something?” N suddenly noted that he seemed to be getting strep throat. Hmmm… looking for sympathy, perhaps. And he did actually sound quite hoarse. But, that didn’t sway me. I continued to rant and rave about pre-paid calling cards and having a plan for contact the next time he travels on his own. N agreed to everything and offered to use up all the brownie points he has racked up in life with me so far – and if you read my “Fractional Weights” post, you know he can rack up a looooot of brownie points – just to get back into my good books.
Hmmm… using up all the brownie points will get him… into the doghouse, I told him. That’s how much doodoo he’s in for getting me so anxious. Still, he has hope. He knows that he’s v. enterprising and can dig himself out of the hole pretty quickly once he gets here.
Can’t wait for him to be back home this weekend!! 🙂