The nightmare & fairytale of Mumbai airport

Flying over Mumbai I saw all the lights of the city twinkle, all I could think was ‘he’s somewhere down there waiting for me’. The day I move to India had finally arrived! Whilst looking out of the window I saw something I had never seen before; the moon had fallen over. There was a thin crescent moon lying on its back, the moon looking like the grin of the Cheshire cat. Alice in Wonderland. Lauren in India. My Western norms become Eastern nonsense and vice versa, something that makes India a wonderland for a foreigner.

The queue for passport control was huge, a sea of people winding around the maze of drawstring barriers. I started to worry we would miss our connecting flight. I wasn’t wearing a watch so I looked at the information board to see how much time I had left: 14:35 26 February 2006. Did I take a plane back in time? After the confusion, shouting and checking of thousands passport, I collected my luggage and made my way to the luggage x-ray machines.

The stereotypical British attitude. the sacred art of queuing, abandoned me. Mumbai airport a queue is more as vague general direction. As time ticked by I saw more and more passengers simply disregard the queue and head straight to the front. The check-in desk for the flight to Nagpur was nearly closing. Time was running out, unless the information board was correct, which gave me at least 7 years grace.

A lovely Indian couple in front of me could see my distress and asked if I was okay, I explained to them how my flight was leaving soon and they told me if I go to the front they will process my bag faster. So I took their advice and sped to the front, only to be told I had to wait like everyone else sent to the back of queue.

This was when I decided to leave my British urges completely behind, I feel ashamed to admit it but… I slowly jumped several places in the queue. I apologised profusely to everyone I passed and tried to give everyone a small explanation of my reasons. ‘I am really really sorry, I do not normally do this, it is against my morals to do this but my husband is waiting and I am going to miss my flight’. I finally got to the front of this queue and the airport official said ‘don’t worry Madam, you can go straight passed the X-ray machine’. This act of kindness was nice and everything but after the distress of getting to the front of the luggage X-ray queue, please someone at least X-ray my luggage. Oh my gosh.

From the x-rays I had to get on a bus to the domestic airport where my husband was waiting. I still had enough time to make check in. An elderly lady who was on the same flight from London had gotten stuck whilst getting on the bus, the crowd of people waiting to get on the bus slowly grew in number and grew more irate. After ten to fifteen minutes the lady managed to get to a seat. One short bus ride and I arrived at the domestic airport and finally in my husbands arms once again.

The relief of being back with him was overwhelming! Finally after all this time!! We had missed our flight to Nagpur but it didn’t matter so much because we were together at last. The next flight available to Nagpur was not for a while… so after a 9 hour flight, a 2 hour struggle to the domestic airport we had to wait another 14 hours to go home. We sat in departures, watching thousands of people check in. My poor husband had already been waiting 9 hours for me to arrive.

Hours later, it was time to get on our plane. Going through to departures meant the usual Indian security questions such as ‘are you married?, where is your husband?, how many siblings do you have? four sisters… no brothers? I’m sorry’.

Finally we were together again, back in Nagpur. Our ‘long distance marriage’ is now simply ‘our marriage‘.

Wishing everyone a prosperous and happy New Year


  1. ” four sisters… no brothers? I’m sorry”.
    Welcome to India. Ha ha ha, that was a good one, humored me on this last day of 2013. Yes more of such probing and personal questions from strangers is the norm. Good luck with your immigration(x visa) and other ordeals to follow. You need to get your visa in order now. Explore for visa info , there are many friendly folk on the travel blog who talk about many facets of India. It is just the beginning..hang in there, happy new year.


  2. Happy New Year – it sounds like you have an amazing journey of learning and settling into a new home!


  3. I’m glad you made it okay but I can feel the tension of all the trials and errors. The important thing is that your husband was still waiting for you! He hadn’t given up and that’s a very good sign for your future together 🙂 I’m looking forward to being transported back to India through your blogs.


  4. It’s really nice to hear that you will finally here. This would be a really great new year for you. Yes, there would be definitely many problems with the registrations, the government functioning will keep your busy for few days. Will look forward to your post regarding that. 😉 🙂

    Happy new year, have a great year ahead 😀

    PS – i really liked the part where you jumped the queue, you would have to do this quite a lot here, so memorizing few nice excuses will be really helpful 🙂


  5. Now there would not be much of a wait as the new terminal at the Mumbai airport has come up….

    By the way while you shifted to my country last year , I am shifting to your country for higher studies at the University of Nottingham…..

    By the way your Blogs are awesome…..


    • Dear Arnyo,

      Thank you so much for your comment!! My family are flying into the new terminal for my wedding in a couple of weeks and your comment made me realise that they should have a good transit from International to domestic. Thank you so much.

      I hope you enjoy Nottingham, I have met a couple of students from there and they seem to love it!!

      All the best!



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