Last night I felt very uneasy and anxious. I assumed that it was rooted in fact that I would be leaving Malaysia soon very. I met some incredible friends, created so many memorable moments, and was introduced to a business model that I truly believed in.
I decided to go to work at OWW for the last time, since I would be leaving the next day. I wanted to have a formal goodbye with all of my colleagues and bosses. Plus there was more work to be completed. I began to go through my normal routine of conducting a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) rating for a company.
All throughout, my mind wandered to preparation for my flight the next day. I neither remembered the exact time of my flight nor mentally arranged my transportation to the airport or estimated the time of travel and other small details. I decided to check my online itinerary. As expected, I was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on the evening of July 12. I initially thought it was a typo—the flight was scheduled to leave on July 11 at 3PM.
“Wait. That makes sense. It does take well over a day to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, to Tokyo, to Los Angeles, to DC, and arrive in New Orleans. Then that would mean that MY FLIGHT IS TODAY AND LEAVES IN 4 HOURS! Breathe. There’s no way you can make it. Just sit here and see if you can get it changed to tomorrow…wait. This is a major international flight with 5 legs. It could be expensive. Let’s pull this off!”
I quietly shut down my computer. I explained my discovery with the guys in the office and Jing. I hastily thanked Geoff for everything. I gave Jing a hug, and I bolted out of the door. I nervously hailed a cab to take me back home.
I rushed through the doors of the Lensa Villa with about 3 1/2 hours to spare. I changed out of my professional clothing and finished the packing that I had initiated the night before in less than 30 minutes. Meanwhile I was dreading the idea of convincing a taxi driver to take me all the way to the airport. I set my TouchNgo card on the bed along with my shaving cream and a few other things that I would not take with me. I carefully placed my keys on the bed, triple checking my pockets for my wallet, passport, money, ipod, etc. I took a deep breath with my thumb on the button of the push-lock door knob, and surveyed the room once more.
I headed outside in the blistering heat and thick humidity looking for a cab, suitcase in hand. Within about 5 minutes (and only 2 or 3 passing me by), I managed to get a taxi to stop. I carefully informed the gentleman that I was headed the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, rather than Kuala Lumpur International Airport, as he helped me load my over-sized bag into his miniature trunk. We discussed price before I even got into the car. Although his price slightly exceeded what I had anticipated (and payed upon arrival to KL), I needed to get to the airport, and FAST!
While I sat in the back seat, I pulled out my cell phone and explained to my roommate, Adam that I suddenly realized I would be leaving that very day. My original plan was to purchase souvenirs that evening after work. Since that was completely impossible, I asked Adam to have Sharmini pick out pashmina scarves for Rajwantie and my Mom and anklets with the bells. He could pay for it with the security deposit that Zahir, the manager at our villa, was supposed to give me that evening. Zahir also had purchased a hookah for me and I needed Adam to get it to James across town. Informed Adam that the TouchNgo card that I left on my bed should have enough money on it to cover his travel across town doing my bidding. Between texts, I looked out of the window and noticed traffic buildup as the driver asked me what time my flight was and why I traveled to Malaysia. I also sent Zahir and James texts with similar information.
By the grace of God and the driver’s decision to take an alternate route, I arrived at the airport only 12 minutes after my 2-hours-ahead-of-time rule for international travel. I stood in line, but did not notice a sign indicating a flight to Singapore. That made me nervous. When I got to the counter, I was informed that the ticket intake for the Singapore flight wouldn’t even begin until an hour before departure. What a relief! Just 2 hours and 15 minutes ago, I was sitting at my desk in the office, thinking that I had another day in Malaysia. I sat down and tried to put together a warm goodbye, via text message, to my good friend, Hanim.
I walked out onto the sweltering tarmac, took one last look, and headed for the small plane with propellers humming the same song that welcomed me to Malaysia.