19 June- 4 July 2011
My friends Rahul and Ranjit had come to see me off at the airport. After passing through the customs check and checking in my luggage, I spent some time with them. After saying them bye I had a last minute run for the search of Forex bureau at the airport since I refused to change my money with a man hanging out at a closed bureau office. I had to go back to the same man since the other office they told me to go was simply did not exist at that place. The man laughed at me but the transactions afterwards were very friendly in the Ghanaian way and important thing to remember is that I did not get cheated in the process. At immigration, the officer asked me whether I had something for him. I had to tell him that since I was a volunteer there, I have little left of my own. He just laughed and let me go.
The moment came at last when I boarded the plane and really left Ghana for good. Since we were going towards East where the sunset had already happened, we went quickly in the darkness. The Emirates flight staff pampered us well with delicious food and drinks. Since the flight was starting from Accra, the menu had typical Ghanaian cuisine for meals and snacks. I tried to do number of things with the interactive screen in front of me. It ranged from watching the scenes outside, watching the movement of flight in the map, playing games, hearing music and watching a Chinese movie with English subtitles.
I got down at the Dubai airport and then realised my mistake of booking the flight which was later in the day instead of the one which was just 2 hours after I reached. I had to spend 7 hours in the airport. In the early hours, airport was crowded. I did not have to change the terminal so I did not have to walk long distances. The free internet was not working. One long walk across the glossy airport was enough and most of the things on sale at the airport were of the sort which either I did not want to buy or could not afford to buy. I wanted to buy a digital camera; I could buy it at far lesser price than India but at a huge disappointment, as the variety which I expected to see at the Dubai airport shop was not there at all. The salesman at the counter was an Indian who seemed to want to just rush me into buying something and go away (Read: get lost).
I arrived two hours later at Mumbai to find that little had changed in India. That little change included the officer at the desk, who appreciated the fact that I had done volunteering in Africa; and my son who had grown up by a year. The things which I wish to see changed but had not, included a Gujarati senior citizen trying to break a queue at the customs and getting before me; and the vehicles on the crowded streets speedily overtaking other vehicles.
“Welcome Back!” said I to myself.