The Interview date was communicated. As per the Doctor, the cast was scheduled to be off, just 3 days prior to the planned journey day! He did not seem as confident and enthusiastic as I was in making the travel happen! But then, there are times, when one needs to pay no heed to the conservative views! This was definitely one.
Since I have not been privileged to travel abroad before this time, I found myself wanting in the areas of preparation! In those days, Google was not considered the be all and end all of all matters! People tended to be dependent on others with adequate experience and expertise on the hitherto unchartered territories. With me being unemployed, I did not have the luxury of any Company Travel Desk! Although golden rays of hope was making their way through the dark clouds of despair, my ego was still injured! Hence, I could not bring myself up to get in touch with my immediate ex-colleagues to seek assistance.
A dear friend bailed me out of this dilemma! She used her clout to have the Travel Agent of her company come at my doorsteps (remember, I was still immobile!) to collect the necessary documents to apply for a Singapore Visit Visa. With my Bank Balance determined to put up a depressing view, my Sister came to the rescue, lending me enough money to book the tickets and make the trip.
One of my Ex-Colleagues and friend was working in Singapore! Had numerous chat discussions with her to understand what is in store for me when I reach! Requested her to book a hotel room for me, which should provide princely facilities at a paupery price. To alley her misgivings, I assured her that the Prince is on his way to attaining nirvana, and hence, won’t mind little less princely disposition! She did an extensive research and came with the option of booking a room atop Mustafa! For those, who are uninitiated to the phenomenon called Mustafa, this is a hypermart, which sells everything under the sun that a person might need! Now a days, it Is open 24×7! This store acts as the gelling factor for Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani expats! More about that later.
The trip started 3 days before the scheduled departure, with my cast (not so pristine white anymore!) deciding to abandon me! To my horror, I realized that while rest of my body has grown, my left feet appeared under-nourished and sickly! With numerous limping miles clocked while traversing different rooms of the house for hours, the feet was just about in alignment with rest of my persona, albeit, with some degree of limping gait still reminding me of the past months!
Those were days, when one used to be given a royal send-off, whenever travel was by Air, irrespective of the reason for travel. Hence, the crowd outside the Airport was not necessarily dominated by the actual travelers, but by the send-off party! Also, the news of my travel spread fast, and demands to bring various items from Singapore started pouring in! The items ranged from Body Soaps to Televisions, with Chocolates and Liquors being firm favourites! Tackling that proved to be much more challenging that tackling the actual job interview! Apparently, I was perceived to be richer by being jobless! When I had a job, the expectations that people had of me were pretty non-flattering!
Hence, with a motley crowd (owing to my vehement opposition to the show of love, that my friends and family were so eager to shower on me!) to see me off, I stepped in to the Airport, overtly conscious to project myself as a well-travelled individual. My English assumed an accent, which surprised even me! My “well-travelled individual” avatar was shattered in no time, when my passport let me down! It was too clean (just one page used!) to help me in my endeavor to appear well-travelled! The Immigration officer was in a chatty mood, and seemed to be impressed with the fact that I was going for an interview. He informed me about his prodigiously talented son, and just stopped short of sharing his son’s Resume! After extracting a promise on me looking for opportunities in Singapore for his son, did the gentleman let me head towards Security checks.
I was lucky enough to escape the punishment of carrying “home food”, as the trip was meant to be only for 3 days! Hence, the security check was effortlessly cleared, and I glided towards the departure gate with the same limping gait, that was fast becoming a signature move for me.