Pakistan International Airlines (Part II)

“We shall shortly be arriving at the Allama Iqbal International Airport. We hope you enjoy your stay, and thank you for flying PIA.”

15:12 – “Alright then sir, I have sorted everything out for you. Do you mind if I see your ticket, again?”

“I don’t have my ticket – you do!” I reply, flustered.

“Err, I don’t think I do, sir. You should have it with your passport.”

“I know, but you had all of these things, and your friend here only gave me the passports back! Look around you – you might have dropped it.”

“I am sorry sir, but you might have to ask the ticketing desk to issue you a new one…”

“Sir, do you need a car?”

“No, my family is coming to pick me up.” I replied, coolly, gazing across the throng to recognise familiar faces, which I didn’t.

A massive clock in front of me showed it was ten minutes past five.

I try calling from my phone. It doesn’t work. I don’t have any credit. I tap it on my palm as if its broken and doing so will make it work again.

Giving up, I turn to the porter who stood to a side with all my luggage. “Do you have a phone?”

He doesn’t reply.

“I will pay you for the top-up credit. If you have one, can I use it?”

He says he doesn’t have one.

“Can I get it from here somewhere?”


“Could you get it for me?”

“I can if you pay me.”


04:30 – “Sir, do you need help with your luggage?” shout a hoard of porters all standing in a line, waiting to serve a wealthy foreigner. Or an expatriate, even.

My arm was still stiff, so I agreed to hire one.

“How many bags, sir?” he asks, approaching the baggage claim belt, hastily stuffing his phone into his shalwar (the loose trousers they wear here made of cotton) pocket.


04:33 – “Sir, I am serving you now, so could you also return the favour, generously?”

He meant he wanted to be paid in pounds.

“I don’t have any pounds on me –” I lied, “– but don’t worry, you will be paid for your services.”

04:40 – The bags arrive. One after the other. I open the one I was supposed to carry around my back and rummage through it for the iPod Shuffle…

One second…

Two seconds…

There it was.

I took a sigh of relief.

Then, I quickly checked the big one with the broken zipper. Someone (or maybe it was myself) had closed the latch on the side - the one that always has a default security code of triple zero. That would have stopped anyone from opening it immediately. So I guess that meant it was un-tampered with. I think.

“Sir you want to make a call? Please use my phone!” says a portly man, with a huge grin sticking across his face.

I grab it immediately and call home.

One ring. Two ring…Fifth ring.


“Where are you guys?”

“Why?” replies my Mum.

“Because I am waiting for you to pick me up from the airport!”

“You’re here, already?! Alright we are coming!”

Just brilliant! To top it off, my folks aren’t even here to collect me! What else could go wrong?

I hang up and hand the man back his phone. He grins and just stands there.

Obviously, he was waiting to be paid for the ten seconds phone call.

I groan and draw a pound coin from my pocket.

“Hehe. Thank you, sir. Now you can make as many phone calls as you want.”

I don’t return the gesture. I just look back at him, murderous.

The porter sticks around, wringing his hands, and looking dull. He obviously didn’t care that none of my clan had showed up, yet. All he wanted was his payment.

I just stood there. Saying nothing. Let him wait, was the honest thought…

Several minutes later…“Sir, when will they be here? I need to go and serve someone else, now, sir, please…”

“FINE!” I reply, after he had asked that same question umpteen times, digging into my wallet, once again, this time to extract a five pounds note (which was all I had left). “Here…(now piss off!)”

His eyes light up. He had just struck gold. In a country where these labourers are given an odd hundred or so rupees for pushing a trolley worth of your luggage, he just received an amount that was almost as good as one grand. He could have called in sick the rest of the day, if he wanted to.

He probably skipped even, as he disappeared into the crowd.

Leaving me to wait by myself, while my driver took his time to make the journey that at this time of the day shouldn’t have been longer than a quarter of an hour.

Much to my displeasure, the weather wasn’t as good as they had reported it would be, on the plane; it was hot and stinky, and I was seriously exhausted.

My trip to the foreign land had begun.

To the country I was a part of. The country that was my identity. And the country I had never lived in for more than three months at a time.


Just as my driver (who managed to show up soon afterwards) pulled out of the airport, a huge billboard crossed my eyes. Befittingly, it read:

Welcome to Pakistan.

Yup, I was home, I realised. Or, sort of.

1 comment:

  1. much enjoyed :D I love scenarios where you're travelling and everything goes wrong. And you're not alone in being jinxed all the time, its been in my family for two generations and a possible third :D Loved the Rowenna Tinn self-appraisal, comforting to know people actually do that :P