The European Bluff

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For the past week I’ve been at the receiving end of sarcasm-tossed and mischievously-rolling-in-it jokes at work. And, now all thanks to social media, and with a little help of my colleagues – Round 2 has ensued on Facebook as we speak. They can’t help but snicker over the fact that my European jaunt had Ostrich wings.

So, to set the record straight, here is what really happened in between check-in, immigration and a bottle Jack. Last month, I had scheduled a trip to Europe, to land in Barcelona and later celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris – a short vacation to get away from a life in media exile. Excited, I prepared myself for the end of December, daily crossing out dates on iCal – a calendar App for Mac.

The thought of one week in Europe, in my language, was going to be nothing short of orgasmic. Boy, was I thrilled all month. I even had this uncanny smile pop along (like a jack in the box) on several occasions – even during serious client meetings, which I admit was kind of awkward.

But somehow this scripted journey had a twisted plot. Even Sherlock Holmes would’ve flinched on this one. All right, I made that last bit up.

On “the” day I was to board a flight for the Capital – from where I had a connecting flight later on in the night, there was a 3 hour delay due to heavy fog, which only left me enough time to grab a beer at a local shack before heading to Terminal 3.
I chartered an auto and on the way received a text from the airline informing me about the delay in schedule. At this point, unperturbed, I slipped the phone back into my jacket. Little had I known what was in store – for all of us flying out from T3 that night.

On arrival, I found a sweet spot in a corner of Costa Coffee, and spent my time wrapping up pending work. Four hours later, around 3 am, I walked up to a queue that looked a lot like something you would see outside an Apple store when Steve is about to launch something magical.

The airline crew was politely addressing passengers. It looked like we weren’t flying out that night – the fog was playing peek-a-boo with the plane. However, we were taken to a hotel in Gurgaon on the pretext that we’d be on board the next morning.
The bus ride to the hotel – which should take 15 minutes on a sunny day – took 45 minutes, and this is when I crossed into Melinda, a British national, who was in India on vacation. We had hit-it off in the buss and later one of us had suggested the idea of getting drunk at the hotel and playing poker.

To be honest, now that I look back, glass of Jack in hand, can’t help but think how Melinda and I managed to play poker without a deck of cards that night. Two days later, after speaking with the airline, with only 4 days to go in Europe, I decided to drop out and return home to my colleagues and friends with a poker face.

Published originally on GQ.

By Paul Syng

PSD is a multi-disciplinary design practice based in Toronto. The studio focuses on a problem-solving approach that can take any form or function.