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Life Is What Happens To You...

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 ... when you are busy making other plans. That's one way to put it. The other one would be, Life shows you the middle finger when you are least expecting it.

I'm just back from a glorious European vacation. This is the vacation we were supposed to take in 2020 but couldn't, due to Covid. However, it felt more special this year as we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. When we visited Europe for the first time in 2018, it was our 5th anniversary and we had joked that let's make this a five year thing. Well, it turned out to be that way unintentionally. So, we were all set for our travel. Bags packed, pup dropped off at boarding, day to day itinerary planned, emergency food packed for the vegetarian partner etc. We boarded the flight as expected. This was the first time we were travelling by Air France. Soon we would learn, this would be the last time too.

Paris was our first destination and we were to reach by 9.00 AM. While we were just two hours away from landing, an air-hostess smelt plastic burning in one of the aisles. Those who know me well know that I hate flying. Any flight, short or long, troubles me. I'm someone who likes to be in control of the situation all the time and honestly, flying is not something that aligns with it. I hate the strong pull during a take-off and the shudders during a turbulence. I'm kind of okay with a landing though. Something about being back on land soothes me. Now, coming back to our Air France flight. Thanks to the smell, it was considered a security hazard and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Istanbul. We were on the tarmac for a couple of hours as technical staff scanned the area time and again. After a while, the staff announced that the issue was resolved and the captain announced that we'll take-off in the next 20 minutes. I surprisingly was calm throughout this situation, my partner always is. I guess I was glad that a mishap was averted.

We would be a couple of hours late in reaching Paris, but if we would hurry when we landed we could still make it to our original itinerary. We had two events planned, one during noon and one during the night. Everything was booked and paid for. We were glad that we could make it after all. All of a sudden, the captain announced that the technical issue is not yet resolved and that they were cancelling the flight. We were asked to de-board and wait at the airport. No one from Air France was at the airport and there was no one to let us know what would happen next. 230 odd passengers were stranded at the Istanbul airport with no updates as to what next. We were young and could handle the situation, but there were many aged passengers on the flight and young mothers with their toddlers who had no access to the lounge or food. It was depressing to watch them. While Paris was our destination, for most others it was a connecting destination. They had flights lined up for the rest of the day and they most likely were going to miss it.

Wi-Fi at Istanbul airport is not free. After the first hour you need to pay. We had an International Roaming plan but the others struggled. After a few hours they announced that we'll be sent to Paris by a 6 PM flight and provided food vouchers. We had already missed our afternoon plans but had a tiny hope of making it to our night one. We were being ridiculously positive. The flight arrived late and by the time we took-off from Istanbul, it was past 8 PM. They sent us a smaller aircraft and all the business class passengers were crammed in with the others. No body was happy. When we finally landed in Paris at around 11.30 PM, we thought the worst was over. We had missed out on our entire plans for the day, but at least we were safe and could have a nice holiday from here on. We were wrong again. Since Air France had sent in a smaller aircraft, not all the luggage could be loaded. Our baggage did not arrive.

So, we had lost an entire day in Paris and were now stranded without any clothes or toiletries. We purchased the bare minimum and reached the hotel at midnight. Air France was supposed to send our luggage to our hotel the next day. We explored Paris in a day wearing the same clothes we had worn when we left Bangalore. Thankfully, we had carried our heavy jackets with us in our carry on, as it was quite cold. In spite of all the chaos, we had a great time in Paris. We explored as much as we could and ate some delicious food. When we got back to our hotel at night, our luggage hadn't arrived as yet. We had a flight to Barcelona the next day.

We had to get on a call with Air France again and they agreed to send the luggage to our hotel in Barcelona the next day. Thankfully, this time, by the time we arrived in Barcelona, our luggage had arrived. We were so relieved! The trip went on smoothly from there and we explored Spain for a week before flying to Portugal. Both these countries are insanely gorgeous! The food, the people, the scenery - everything was splendid. Three days before we could leave back to Bangalore, Air France cancelled our return flight. Owing to this, we now had a 13 hour layover at Charles De Gaulle (The Paris Airport) and our connecting flight was the next day. Air France refused to provide us a hotel. We decided to buy lounge access and spend the night at the airport. Now comes the best part. CDG shuts down at night! No kidding. The eating establishments starts to shut down by 9 PM, followed by the other stores and the lounge too! They actually close down the shutters and switch off the lights! No kidding. The staff told us to book a hotel ourselves and spend the night there as the airport is not safe at night. We could see why.

Meanwhile, a few other Air France flights were cancelled too and there were hordes of passengers stranded at the airport and at the customer care center. After waiting in the line for a couple of hours, we found someone who understood our problem and accepted that it was a miss from the airline and provided us a hotel for the night. We had to take a connecting train from the airport to the hotel and come back the next day. Thankfully, this flight was not delayed and was uneventful and we landed in Bangalore safely at midnight. So did our baggage. What was supposed to be a beautiful 10th year anniversary celebration had a terrible start and end, all thanks to an airline. While we had a brilliant time in Europe, when something like this happens, it takes away some of the joy.

I know that these are technical and unpredictable issues. No one can do anything about it. What troubled us more was the apathy of the Air France staff. They had no clue what to do and were far from helpful. While we read up on the airline, it turned out to be a regular affair for them. Flight delays, cancellations, luggage going missing - this almost seemed routine. The exact flight we took to Paris had had an emergency landing in Austria a few months ago because of the same issue, smell of something burning. Was the issue ever fixed? No one knows. 

We were just glad to be back home. First thing next day, we picked up our pup. All three of us were under a roof together again. Nothing else mattered more than that. Then came a shocker from work. My project was being restructured and people were being let go. I was being moved to a new, better role and that turned out to be a silver lining in this grey grumpy cloud. This would be a fresh start for me and I was thrilled. But, seeing some of my colleagues leave and the condition of the project at the moment did not go down well on my mental space. It was such a pity. I had just come back rejuvenated from a vacation and I was instantly plunged into stress. I had to backout of the A to Z challenge because of this. I did not have it in me to plan and post everyday. I was so looking forward to this challenge, but life had thrown another challenge at me. One that needed immediate focus and clarity.

So, long story short, life is uncertain and can throw any or many curve balls at you at any moment. While we cannot be prepared all the time, we can try our best to accept the situation and make the most of it. Life goes on, and we need to go on with it.

Life is going to get busy now with a lot of learning and unlearning planned. This is a period of growth for me, both personally and professionally and I'm going to embrace it whole heartedly. They say that change is the only constant in the world. Couldn't agree more.


  1. Gosh your life has been like a rollercoaster ride but I am impressed with how you have handled it. I wouldn't have been so calm to have my holiday jeopardised in such a tardy fashion. Air France seems to be a frequent offender, it seems - noted for future reference.
    Your trip sounds just divine and I hope you visited some book stores too and picked up some reads. I have been drooling at your holiday pics and you look smashing hot in all of them. Hope the doggo was okay while you were away.
    Congrats on the move up though it looks like it came with a heavy boulder attached to it. Fingers crossed all of it sorts down soon and life can get back to your comfy pace.
    Ciao & hugs Soumya!!

    1. Please never travel Air France, it is not worth it. The pup was super fine, this is a place he's familiar with and loves. Thank you, darling! Did not expect it to happen so suddenly and I did not expect the reaction of people to it at all, but we all have to pay a price for success.

  2. This month has been such a mixed bag for you. However, it's good to see you taking much of it in your stride. I wish I could borrow some of your positivity. It's a pity you had to let go of the A to Z Challenge but glad you made that decision instead of struggling with it.
    Congratulations on your new assignment, hope you settle down in the role soon.

    1. Gosh, sometimes when I look back, I have no idea how I survived it. I so badly wanted to do the A to Z, but better to do it well next year than struggle this year. Thank you, Tulika. I'm settling in quite well now.

  3. I hate getting my travel plans altered like this. But such is life. Expect the unexpected. Congratulations on the new role. Wish you best luck.

  4. Wow, that's quite a lot with the travel and the workplace changes! Life certainly is uncertain. We need to adapt and adjust as life changes its tunes with no notice. Wish you all the best in your new role, Soumya.

    1. Just need to adapt, no other go. Thank you, Vinitha.

  5. It was really nice to see your pictures, but never knew you had to go through so much trouble. Never travel by Air France is a motive for me.
    I’ve noticed they offer less expensive connecting flights but I’ve heard a lot about their delays. Since I travel with a 5 year old, I try my best to stick with Emirates or Ethiad.

    It’s natural to pick Air France if you’re going to Paris, I thought so too. Well, it does not work like that with them.

    I’m sorry you had to go through so much trouble on your vacation. Loved your photos and wishing you both amazing years of togetherness.

    Hope all your project team mates find a good place, so does the project.

    Posting from phone, sorry for posting as anonymous.

    Jayanthy G

    1. Air France is the primary airline for France and since we were landing in Paris that was the first choice. It cost the same as Etihad and others. While we also prefer flying Emirates or Luftansa, we never knew AF was this bad. Lesson learned the hard way.


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