That One Night in Malaysia 

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Malaysia is always close to my heart, very comfortable, beautiful place, easy commute and I can eat very yummy southie food! Of the many trips to Malaysia this one trip is the most unforgettable for obvious reasons!

It was a Christmas eve, and post our productive meeting with the client, we decided to have a good dinner at ……. Place! I and my two colleagues walked down the street, it was too crowded, ladies in their best dresses, men as usual in their shorts and casual T shirts everywhere! People were moving around fast, and vendors selling colored neon light head and wrist bands! It was a pleasure walking amidst the festive crowd and trying to find a good place to eat!

Finally we reached a German bar, decided to sit out and have drinks and dinner! As always I settled myself in a high chair and put hung my favorite Kipling hand bag in the chair!

Discussions went on and we were talking about the meeting and future plans and some personal stories. We had our yum dinner served and then finally decided to go back to room as we were running late already! All of us were returning home the next day! The crowd walking by seemed to swell by the minute. We were wondering how these people had energy to walk and hop and have food the entire night!

Stood up from the chair, stretched and turned back, alas — where is my fav beige color Kipling bag?? Missing!! Panic stricken, I and my colleagues looked at each other we had nothing to speak , then it stuck me , my gosh – my passport is in the bag ! “What? You carried your passport in the handbag when you knew you are going to the busiest road in Malaysia??” Yes I did that mistake! We asked the hotel manager if there was a cc camera? NO – and My colleagues started asking all vendors and people passing by, the cop who was strolling – No use, me still wondering will I go back home this weekend , what will I do without passport, how is my little boy going to manage without me, so many questions with no answers!

The next wise thing to do is lodge a complaint, so our next stop was at the police station! It’s not that I haven’t gone to a police station before, may be for passport verification, at the max, I haven’t come across many cops in life! And the thought of uniformed professional always brings in some fear! And in a different country, different language, where you just can’t call Dad and ask him to speak to some known person, it’s even worse. We just walked, took a copy of my passport and filed a complaint, the cop said they can’t promise anything :(.

No dollars in hand, no passport, and of course my favorite handbag – hang on now I am an illegal tourist here, no visa copy! Oh Gosh!! Not even once I bothered to carry a copy of my visa anywhere! It’s always the passport copy which all of us have! Shoot – we came back again to the restaurant to look around, by now the crowd has gone to the stage of frenzy celebration! No bumping and walking everybody had settled somewhere, but no signs of bag or any information about it! The first time I felt very lonely in a different land, all in my mind was “I WANT TO GO BACK, THIS IS NOT MY HOME!!”

With heavy heart, I returned to the hotel!

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Next thing I did was to call and inform my husband, tears started rolling for the first time and not sure if I had a way out! My ever cool husband was extremely relaxed and knew what had to be done next. I started searching for the address of the Indian Embassy, but then realized its Christmas holidays; 3 days stuck in unknown place all alone with no money in hand! Luckily all I had is my phone which was in my Jeans! One message to my cousins and calls started pouring from all directions, the magic of social media, they started calling their friends and pretty much everyone gave contact details and offered help! People away from home land living for years facing many such issues, always extend their helping hand to anyone who are in trouble away from home!

Beauty of humanity, you don’t have to be a best friend, family or even an acquaintance, Away from home anyone offers help knowing that a person from India is in trouble! In few hours, I started to believe that I can come out of this but I wasn’t sure how. With these thoughts and mixed feelings I hit the bed at around 3 am expecting some miracle to happen the next day!

Yes, that miracle did happen.

After a visit to the embassy to check if they are really closed, I came back to my room to reschedule my tickets and other travel plans! I got a call from an unknown number, I was very reluctant to answer for obvious reasons, but still I did, the person on the other side introduced himself , his accent was very crude , and suddenly I seem to hear ” I found your bag with passport, wallet, charger” , waaaatttt , is that true? I must be dreaming, asked him twice to confirm and he gave me an address to meet him! Elated, called my colleague and rushed to that address, the roads were jam packed with Christmas crowd , but that’s ok now given a chance I will even walk and go and collect, was that a true call, how did he get my no, will he ask money? Is that my bag he is talking about? Perplexed with many questions and still waiting for the traffic to clear, we reached the destination finally. The person who called me was a soft spoken security person and he took us to a desk and there was my beige color Kipling bag. Everything seemed to be in place, except my wallet with dollars, euros, and all kind of currencies- (forget it, who cares??), I got my favorite handbag and more important – my passport , my ticket to reach back home.

Thanked the person multiple times, took the next flight back home! And well a delay of one day and the series of episodes that happened that one night, and a simple lesson learnt “East or West, to me my home is best”