Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To "Be Home for Christmas": Been There, Done That

For me and the rest of South East Asians who were born and raised with the 12/7-sun, having loads of snow has always been a delight. However, the case may be very different for many of my friends here in the UK this Christmas.

The week of Christmas Eve was chaotic in Heathrow, maybe the world's busiest airport it is. The heavy snow falling from the 18 of December was the source of all mess. So many flights were cancelled. Not sure to call it 'cancelled' or 'delayed', but a friend of mine who was scheduled to fly on Saturday 19, was eventually flying on Friday, the 24th. Yes, it was Christmas Eve already. Some other friends were luckier, their flight only delayed for 2-3 days, and some others who were international passengers (non-EU) were also luckier as they were prioritized to fly, although some of them had to stay in the airport for 24 hours or more. The radio, the facebook status, the talks, the net told me how chaotic the situation in the airport.

Everyone was wondering why it was so chaotic and why it took so long to handle the problem. We, the third world people here, were quite surprised to find this situation. Well, this is the UK, supposed to be The First World. Some said that the authorities were unprepared for the snow, since usually they don't have this much snow. But still, it's quite surprising that they didn't call Canadian authorities, for example, asking them how to deal with frozen and slippery runway. Well, maybe they did that, but what took it so long? :p It seems that "Mirror" shares our opinion, thinking that the incident was a bit "third world". (see this http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/columnists/cowley/2010/12/24/heathrow-airport-snow-chaos-made-uk-look-like-the-third-world-115875-22805285/)

Now, back to the people. I could feel how these friends were worrying and anxious about being unable to celebrate the special days with their beloved ones. All the status updates were about people hoping for the snow to stop and the plane to fly. I was with them, for sure.















I had a similar experience once. It was short before last year's Iedul Fitri. Maybe it's the most important day in the year for us Muslims all over the world, definitely for Indonesian Muslims in particular. Similar to the "be home for Christmas" thing, we feel that we have to be home for Iedul Fitri.

I was literally on the verge of tears, frustrated and angry, when unexpected things happened that all possible modes of transportation seem to refuse to take me home. The train tickets were successfully purchased but with wrong date(!!), the air ticket turned out to lose its validity, all the train tickets were sold out, there were no direct bus to the city, and the most important day was only 3 days away. Well, it takes only an hour by plane to take me home, but of course if I could not arrive home at least the night before the day, I will really feel devastated for sure. (lebay banget ngga sih...:p)

Thankfully, some really nice friends were still able to use their logic that they recommended to take a bus to the city near to my hometown. I knew I'll be on my own, sitting in the probably the world's craziest annual(!!) traffic jam. And so it was. The alternative of 1-hour flight turned to be almost 24 hours journey! :) However, I felt so grateful as it was not that bad after all. I was safe and sound all along the way (bear in mind that even Japanese know exactly that Indonesian bus station aka terminal is one of the most dangerous place on earth that they put this information in their own version of Indonesian Lonely Planet!:p); met nice people along the way; lucky enough to be able to afford air conditioned bus (many others were less lucky); and successfully picked up by my dear baby brother at the final stop, then heading home for the Iedul Fitri eve (nggawe istilah dewe, kekeke). All the hardships along the way have only made me appreciate the big day and the family time even more...I took it as a nice reminder that sometimes things are designed in a way that we don't understand at first, but eventually lead us to unplanned adventure with precious lessons to learn. :)

Well, I think I'm starting become melancholic now...but what I want to note is that I am thinking and hoping that the same thing is happening to those who had struggled to "be home for Christmas", anywhere you are. :) I am wishing you the best priceless moments! *before returning to this busy life with essay-deadlines and dissertation proposal, of course! :p*
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*picture of my window view on December 19th
**picture taken in the beautiful morning I arrived in Surakarta, the city next to my hometown, during that 24-hours journey in 2009 :)

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