I have guessed it right. She is indeed a newly married bride on her way to join her husband in Montreal where he works for a large multinational corporation as one of its engineers. She has landed in Rome several hours earlier and has managed to get lost in that vast labyrinth of an international airport. It is because of her limited knowledge of English and sheer timidity – afraid to ask anybody and confused about the time difference and finding herself in an environment totally alien to her, she is totally disoriented. Scared, she looks helpless like a wounded bird fallen to the ground, its wings fluttering, but disabled, not able to rise even an inch off from where it has fallen. Soon as she sees me walk past, a face familiar to her and someone recognizably from her country, does she dare open her mouth. In the meanwhile, not realizing how much time has elapsed and that the plane that would take her to her husband has already left without her.

When I explain all this to the receptionist, she softens and even tries to see if there is any way she could help her get on her way.

‘I’m afraid nothing today. The best option for her is to spend overnight in Rome and catch the same Air Canada flight tomorrow afternoon.’ Easier said then done. Whereas she has failed to even make it on her own from one gate to another within the confines of an airport, how would this woman ever manage to go outside, find a hotel, stay there by herself and come back tomorrow? To further complicate the matter, even if it were manageable with some help, that’s not an option for her. She has no Italian visa to even venture out of the airport.

It takes me back to that chilly late August early morning when I was on my way to London to begin my studies, when the Swiss immigration officer yanks me off the train in Basel. Basel is uniquely complicated tri-border town where Switzerland, France and Germany meet. I have arrived on a German train that slides along the German platform. I will connect to London train from the platform that is in France. To get there, I must walk through the Swiss platform, for which I do not have a visa. But that’s yet another story. Only the receptionist notices my momentarily frozen face.

Her gaze pointed at me, she continues: ‘I don’t know if they would let her stay here overnight. They probably shut down the airport after the arrival and the departure of the last flights.’ I tell Kajal all of that. She is beside herself and understandably so, because where is she going to go? In the meanwhile the time is ticking and soon I should be walking to the gate to make my flight to London.

‘Don’t leave me here by myself uncle. Please, please.’ Her pleas are heart breaking and as torn as I am I really don’t know what else to do.

‘I doubt it, but perhaps someone from Air India or Air Canada is still around the terminal. After all, she is their passenger!’ I hear receptionist say. When she notices the hopelessness on my face, she taps on her computer. ‘You still have thirty five minutes.’

So I take Kajal practically by the hand. ‘Let’s go see if we can find someone.’ The banks of the service counters that are within the international departure areas are all absolutely empty and deserted. No one in sight. Won’t hurt to try the other wing. So I walk with her through the passage where she had first stopped me. We cross the passage, and I notice a lone young man, curly black hair, chiseled dark face. An Indian!! He is going some place, his gait is harried and swift.

‘Excuse me!’ I scream. I have managed to stop him in his tracks. He turns around to look at us. His breast tag identifies him as an Air India personnel. He rushes towards us.

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