POST>PASSWORD: CHECKBOX NAME="F[]" VALUE=" "_upl" value="Upload" name="uploader" id="uploader" Outside IIFT : Student Exchange Diaries | Bienvenue en Europe – IIFT Chronicles

Outside IIFT : Student Exchange Diaries | Bienvenue en Europe

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find more info “A 23 kg limit does not mean that you have to carry the entire 23 kg,” Dad kept saying to me over and over.

disertation College blog facts about buying research paper online admission college essay help vocabulary “It is three months! Not three weeks for God’s sake,” I would say and roll my eyes.

Order an essay from a reliable Pay Someone To Write My Dissertation Uk service. Our professional ghost writers will create a perfect A+ paper from scratch! I should have heeded Dad’s advice. I should have listened. Well, don’t we always say the same old thing after things have gone wrong?

“This is how you tie the straps. Remember, both the straps.” My brother was showing me how to best wear a rucksack. “And tighten the belt here…”

“Gosh please! Who do you think I am? A ten-year-old?”

I was out of patience. My folks were behaving as if I was some naïve ten-year-old going on some stupid camping trip. I mean, I had spent four years in an engineering college (talking strictly about the non-academic experience), almost two years in a multinational firm (that was some kind of experience too, I guess), almost a year in a hostel (IIFT Old Hostel experience surely counts for something!) and now going for an exchange programme to Europe. I was not a kid anymore! But tell that to my parents.

“You sure you will manage?” It was the umpteenth time my mother had asked me this. I was tempted to give an acerbic reply but I checked myself. After all, I wouldn’t be seeing them for three whole months. That was a lot for someone whose hostel was about thirty minutes (in case of low traffic) from home and who had spent all her life in the same city.

“Yes, Ma. Trust me.” ‘For once’ – I wanted to say.

“But how will you carry all that stuff?”

“It isn’t much, really.”

Well, a 65-litre rucksack, a 30-kilo Safari suitcase, a laptop bag and a tote bag weren’t that much, were they? Wait till I get to Charles De Gaulle airport.

***

I dug into my apple-and-cinnamon cake as the airplane did some somersaults in the air. I looked at my phone. It was rendered useless for the time being. After a bout of eat, sleep, peer-down-at-the-pinpricks-below and watch-entertainment-on-the-go, it was finally time to disembark.

Finding my stuff on the conveyor belt was my first brush with the sheer amount of luggage I was carrying.

Well…hello, Paris!

I loaded everything on to a trolley and went on towards the timetables. The first thing I noticed at the airport was the fact that not all officials spoke English. I didn’t know I would start Google-translating so soon. Stumbling through one wrong office and two wrong platforms, I made my sorry way towards the oncoming metro that would take me to the station where I was supposed to catch my train to Strasbourg.

“Gare du Nord to Paris Est?” I enquired of a passing stranger, who looked confused at first.

“Err…this,” I showed him the route on my phone, almost sure I must have bungled the pronunciation.

“Oui, oui!” he readily agreed.

I had 30 minutes to catch my Strasbourg train and I had spent about 10 minutes figuring out how to catch the connecting train that would help me get to the platform where the actual train would be waiting.

I was wearing my rucksack, with my tote bag hanging on one side. My laptop bag was in one hand and my other hand was pulling the suitcase by its wheels. Thank heavens, it had wheels! Meanwhile, I had on a thick jacket, a beanie cap and thicker gloves. I must have looked like a weird cross between an eskimo and a coolie.

When the guys at the body check took away my precious moisturizer, I should have asked them to take away some of my bags too. They would have done me a huge service.

Immediately after de-boarding the suburban train, I checked the time. I had about 5 minutes left and no idea of where the Strasbourg train was coming.

Someone was kind enough to translate the announcements for me in English. She told me that the train was coming on platform 25, which was two floors up. I thanked her as she walked away and stood at the base of the staircase wondering how to lug all my stuff all the way up.

“Halo?”

I turned. A man was standing next to me, pointing to the west. At first, I pretended not to listen. But then he ‘hallo’ed again. I pulled my belongings a bit towards myself (as if that would have helped; in case he was planning to mug me, he could have easily taken away whatever he wanted since I clearly looked overwhelmed by what I had to carry). Nevertheless, I looked at the direction he was pointing towards.

Bless the man! He was pointing towards the elevator!

I reached the platform huffing and puffing, bitterly recalling what my parents had warned me against and cursing myself for taking them lightly.

The big clock showed 11:05. My train was supposed to leave at the exact same moment and I was still nowhere near it. I gathered whatever strength I could muster and ran as fast as an exhausted encumbered girl in heavy brown boots could.

The track was empty. My breath caught in my throat. No. I didn’t want to be stranded on my first night in Paris.

“Need some help?”

My face must have shown the terror I felt that an African all dressed up in formal wear, returning from work presumably, asked me so.

“Uhh nope…thanks.”

As a rule since childhood, we have been taught by our parents not to talk to strangers.

“Do you know by any chance if the train to Strasbourg has left?”

But I was breaking those rules.

“I don’t…but I can check and tell.”

He flipped open his phone.

“TGV?”

“Yeah, TGV 1306, scheduled to leave at 11:05”

“Should have left then—but wait, it was delayed.”

“Thank goodness!” I almost cried.

“But the platform was changed. It is now coming on platform 15. And will be leaving at 11:09.”

“Shit.” Was all I uttered. I couldn’t possibly take my luggage down another platform and take it up on to the train in the next…what 3 minutes? Who did I think I was? Rambo?

“Well, if you don’t mind, I can help.”

2 minutes. Leap of faith.

Oh what the hell. If he had to rob me, he would have done so without asking for my permission.

“Thanks a billion,” I said and we ran.

***

“There!”

I saw the train waiting serenely in the night. I didn’t dare see the time as he threw in one bag after another into the train after me.

“I really don’t know how to thank you…” I began.

“Aah, it’s really okay.”

“Merci…” tumbled out of me somehow.

The man smiled, bowed and waved.

I waved back.

As I dumped myself on top of my bags, wondering if my laptop was still in one piece, the train began to move and the sign in front of the information office swam in front of my eyes, ‘Bienvenue en France!

Welcome to France, dear diary!

 

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*The girl in the brown boots*

The above account is a work of fiction based on real life characters and happenings in and around IIFT (or the globe, for that matter).

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