Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Day in the Land of the Surreal…

After four days of teeth-grinding frustration trying to make an online booking to New York, I made a second attempt at a local travel agent – the only one in my area registered for the ongoing MAS cheap travel fair.

I walked in and was utterly delighted to find that this time, yes, they could give me the dates I wanted at a price I thought was brilliant, considering what else I had been offered. I didn’t even think about it. “I’ll take it,” I said. I couldn’t believe my luck. Huh. I might have known it was too good to be true. When it comes to getting to New York cheap, I am jinxed. Or maybe I should reword that: I am a jinx.

Immediately after I said “I’ll take it” - words with far reaching consequences when uttered by the magically jinxed - every piece of electronic equipment in the agency blew up. That was, need I say, before my purchase was entered into the system.

I kid you not. The lights went out. Computers, monitors, fax machines and printers all went “PHHHUTTT!!” and smoke poured out of everything. I left before anyone found out I was to blame.

I decided to take Liz’s advice, and off I went to the central railway station where there is a MAS office. I decided to avoid the KL traffic horror by catching the commuter train. So I stuffed my copy of The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl into my bag and off I went.

I sat on the station and watched several trains going the other way on the other side of the tracks – but nothing going to KL. The electronic sign above my head uttered a continuous stream of make-believe : (train due in 6 minutes …5 …4 …3 …2 …1 …30 …) Finally, just when it seemed no more people could fit on the platform, a train did appear. On the other side of the tracks, but going to KL. It horned. A hundred or so people exchanged glances and wondered whether we were supposed to cross the overhead bridge and risk getting on to a train going north on the southbound line…

Anyway, there we all are on a train, going the right way but on the wrong tracks, packed in like brown rice in a vacuum pack – when it becomes increasingly obvious that the aircon is not working. And there’s no way to open any windows. It is just past midday in the tropics. And I am reading a book that vividly describes various ways of being murdered a la Dante’s Inferno. Talk about surreal.

It is two hours later by the time I finally arrive at my turn at the MAS desk. And was there any sign of that cheap seat the travel agent had mentioned? Nope, of course not. In the end I was just so tired of wasting so much time on this whole booking thingy, that I bought a ticket (supposedly bargain price) which was just $RM 52.00 cheaper than the regular economy MAS fare. At least the computers didn’t blow up.

I am going to New York. Well, to Virginia actually. To see the little guy above. And I refuse to think how much I am paying to do so…I am sure he will be worth it.

11 comments:

Satima said...

I reckon it's worth almost any money to see grandies while they are little. I've got seven of them altogether and except for the youngest, who is now 7, I missed out on watching them grow. In fact, I hardly know most of them:-(

So forget the money and have a lovely time in ol' Virginy with the fledglings:-)

Bernita said...

Makes you wonder, don't it?
I half-laugh and half-sympathize.

Anghara said...

When? When are you going? I'll be there or near there for five days in mid-march...!

Glenda Larke said...

Aargh - sorry Alma - I'm not leaving here till late April, and will be back in late May. I'll be spending a few days in NY in May. Want to see my editor, among other things.

One of these days I'll get to the west coast and I'll drop by! Hey, and what's this I hear about you giving a writing course on the San Juan islands? Now that's not bad...

Anghara said...

A WORLDBUILDING course, no less. And have you seen the setting of the place? (the link is on my website, go look... [grin])

And I'll hold you to that west coast thing. I'll even nag you on it. Fall is VERY pretty out here - September is very nice. SO is May. So is most of summer. Aw, come on, you KNOW you want to... [evil grin]

Glenda Larke said...

Alma, I am almost tempted to attend! What a place to build a world in...

Anghara said...

Do, then. And stay a bit longer, with me. Deck and I would love it...and it's summer... and you can write the whole trip off on your taxes...

Glenda Larke said...

Hmmm...I think you don't know much about the Malaysian tax system.

Anonymous said...

yeah about the tax system -- you can get a tax rebate for books bought -- strange isn't it ? must be the only government in the world that does that. :)

Glenda Larke said...

Yep, you can. Up to 600 RM worth on books bought. But then, I have problems filing a tax return, being a woman who is not a citizen. Anything I earn just gets lumped onto my husband's at his highest tax bracket. Malaysia boleh!

Love this country with its myriad of contradictions...

Anonymous said...

Blah just have your husband declare them instead of you, solved :)