I was walking around the London Eye, thinking about with pictures to take. I had my DSLR around my neck and my cell phone in my coat pocket, yes that is the English summer for me! I need a light coat to survive it. It was a bright sunny day. I could see the blue sky and the gorgeous Central London Skyline to go with it. I was thinking exclusively about taking pictures. I had no idea it would become a ‘when things go wrong while traveling’ moment!
Suddenly I felt a commotion around me. I thought people were trying to attract my attention but this was London! Nobody gives an extra contact to anyone else unless they are tourist, thank god for the tourists! So, I also tried to behave like a Londoner. I walked as if nothing was happening but the commotion persisted. I could hear someone clearly calling ‘miss miss’ and far too many eyes on me.
I turned back to the person calling me, he was a street performer dressed like Charlie Chaplin. He pointed out to a youth saying, “he took your phone.” I was completely dazed. I could see the familiar phone in completely unfamiliar hands. By the time I got the phone and my senses back, the crowd had dispersed! I could not even say thank you to the person who got my phone. Everything was back to normal and yet I was completely shaken. What if it was my passport?
If I would have not got the phone back, I would have thought that I dropped it somewhere or left it behind in a shop or attraction! I remain perturbed after the incident, I could not shake it off easily. It would have been tough if the phone was really gone. I would have survived because it was towards the end of my trip. I also had my laptop so I could still be in touch with my family but it is damn annoying not to have a phone while travelling particularly when I had topped it up with the data too!
This was the first instance of theft that ever came my way in a foreign land. I escaped lightly thanks to the kindness of the anonymous gentleman. However there was something between me and this phone, I dropped it the very next day into water and that was the end of it! It was just not meant for me. Though I wonder why!
Next month in June, I traveled to Sri Lanka. I arrived at the Colombo Airport after an enjoyable flight. At the airport we were waiting for Sankara, a fellow blogger from India. Eventually we got into a nice car and we were headed to Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo.
On the way he wanted to withdraw money, so I thought why not, let me also withdraw, after all it is the cheapest way to get foreign currency in most of the countries. The first ATM didn’t work, so we decided to stop at the next one. At the next one, Shankara being chivalrous said, “ladies first”. I went ahead, inserted my card and watched in horror the machine hanging. It started rebooting like a computer and then try whatever we may, it simply swallowed my card and refused to throw it out. Thankfully I had leftover pounds from the May trip to United Kingdom. Also it was a HDFC card which let me hot list it at the click of a mouse via net banking. I asked for a reissue of a card from the available options. Then in my nervousness I hot listed the to be issued card! Still I was at peace as my card could not be misused. Once I got home I walked to the HDFC office and got another card issued.
I know these are minor incidents but still I was rattled. I think I was more affected with the phone pick pocketing because I was completely unaware about it. Someone can put their hands in my pocket and I would not feel it at all is a creepy sensation! It was a huge wake up call to me. I wonder how I could be so completely oblivious to my surroundings! I mean what if it was my passport, I would have been in such deep trouble or even with my wallet! I believe I was lucky after all, escaping unscathed.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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