Chapters

Would you like to read my NOT so funny story? 
I have to warn you, it is long- winded…Read it when you have enough time. 
Well on a second thought, I will post it in chapters. 

Chapter #1:
Credit Card Turmoil

This is how my funny story started. It was March of 2014. I say it is funny because I don’t want to use any negative words to make it even ‘worse’. Well, there I go using one negative word already!

On one Sunday morning while I was still sleeping, my phone rang and woke me up. It went to my voice mail. In my sleepy state of mind all I heard was ‘credit card blah blah blah….’so I thought it was a sales call and did not pick up.

Later that afternoon I heard the message in full. Basically they were calling me to ask if I have used my card lately since they noticed several transactions. Most of those are McDonald’s, Restaurants, Gas stations, grocery stores, department stores, auto shops, etc…. I immediately called the credit card company and asked them 'what was going on'. They said my credit card was pretty much used up, my entire limit!

I got panicky and immediately went on line to check my credit card. I never use this card but some one obviously used my entire limit. After talking to the Credit card company, they assured me that I will not be liable for any charges and they will look into it and set up alerts. Finally after communicating with several people and credit bureaus, etc, it is all taken care of. 

Or so I thought…..Then this weird incident happened. After a few days later, I noticed that my mail box did not have any mail for the past 2 days!! That is NOT normal. I always have mail. Some times junk BUT I still get mail.

On third day, May 1st when I opened my mail box, I saw a notification from the post office which stated, that they are providing a reminder that I have placed hold on my mail. My heart rate went up. Got panicked. I did not even go inside the house, immediately went to the post office. Spoke to the manager there and found out that some body placed a hold on my mail on line and they were going to pick it up on May 3rd.!!!... 

Okay, here is more....I told that manager that I did not place any request and got my big bundle of mail, that was on hold, and got home. In that mail there are a few newly ordered credit cards under my name.!!!

Basically what happened here was, who ever got hold of my credit card that was sent by my credit card company as an upgraded card, was put in somebody else’s mail box by a ‘newly appointed mail man’ (Obviously this guy was not trained properly) and that person took it out and left it out side and some one else took it and used it.

While doing so they have also ordered 4 more credit cards from different companies and placed a hold on my mail. Their plan was to get the mail from the post office and use those cards.

I reported this to the Police. First time going to the police station. Felt weird!! This is all unbelievable isn’t it? But it happened.

Well...don't think my story is over....Nooooooooo way...more to come. 
Watch out for Chapter #2 coming up soon.


Chapter#2:

Accident...Accident


Now I am so excited about going to India and being with my mom and dad on their 60th wedding anniversary. Trying to get everything in place and have stuff to buy and pack and what not. 

While going to work in a merry way, (yep, couldn’t wait to go to work!!, I love my work! I live for it!, Puhahaha ), on the freeway, I was driving and suddenly an SUV hit right behind the driver side. 

Can my life get any better? Well I guess I am thankful that I did not end up in a hospital. Okay, we both stopped, the guy apologized. We exchanged info, called the insurance and decision was made that it was the other guy’s fault. Dah!!

Comedy of errors continues..... You would not believe what happened next!!

That weekend, I had to give my car at the body shop. Decided to get a rental for one day since I will be leaving for India on 14th, and took the day off on 13th. So I got into my rental car to go to work. 

Couldn’t wait to go to work... because…. (yep, couldn’t wait to go to work!!, I love my work! I live for it!, Puhahaha) 

Guess what? I was driving and I almost reached work, may be 5 to 10 minutes more, I suddenly felt a jolt. At first I thought oh well it could JUST be an EARTHQUAKE…what else is new in California! We are all used to it…or so I thought! Then I realized that it wasn’t an earthquake.

I wasn’t really sure for a second what happened! Then suddenly…. this lady who came to my right lane, hits my car on the passenger side, passes me by and goes in front of me and kept going. I signaled her to stop, but she kept going and going…. I decided to follow her. Followed her for a couple of minutes. Finally she stops. After stopping she says…”why are you stopping me I did not hit you”.

My reaction at that second was…Am I imagining this? Am I sleeping? May be I am just dreaming all this!!! BUT, I snapped out of it.

I was shocked…I said to her in a very sharp tone “OF COURSE YOU HIT ME" and I gave her a look, which screamed “ARE YOU MAD??? “ 

By the way that is my usual look.

Story continues…I had to show that lady the damage on my car and went to her car and showed where the damage is on her car. Finally she came to her senses and realized that she hit my car. I had to deal with that incident with rental people in that remaining one day before my half way across the world trip.

Luckily my daughter took extra insurance on the rental and so I am not liable for any damages. They have also decided I was not at fault anyway. Another Dah! Sheesh…Okay …Dah! Dah! Dah!

Are you guys enjoying this? Wait, the story is not done yet....Coming up soon in Chapter #3. 

Chapter #3: 
Mom and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary

After the accident debacle, as I mentioned before... I was planning for my India trip which was on 14th. The day was here. I was all set to go to the airport to catch my flight to India. I was anxiously waiting for this day. I wanted so much to be with my parents on their 60th wedding anniversary. WOW!! 60 years!! 

I prepared everything. Bought everything on the list and packed it in such a way so all the stuff can be included in it somehow. Almost every week ever since I bought the ticket, I was checking to make sure I have all in place. Finally the day arrived. 

My daughter took half a day off from her work to take me to the airport. We were about to get to the car with all the stuff. 

Just before locking the door while dragging the big suitcase she asks me….”Mom, do you have everything?…Passport, money, ticket and Visa?” I immediately answered…"of course I have been checking every week…let me just recheck it". 

While opening my bag…what she asked suddenly got into my brain…Passport, money, ticket and Visa….HUH!!!??? WHAT??? WHAT visa??? 

That is when, I realized, I never checked for Visa. Then I remembered I took a 10-year Visa a few years back. So Visa stamp should be on my old passport. Immediately I started digging into boxes to get the old passport. Finally I checked and my Visa just expired in July of 2013. Well I guess it wasn’t just a few years back then. It expired and I never bothered to think I needed that. 

Recently when we went to Japan I didn’t need it. So it never occurred to me I needed one for India ☹ ( I only go there every other year for the past 36 years Ke Ke Ke!!!)

My flight was at 3:45 PM and we were planning to leave at 12:15 ish…that was when the whole fiasco started. We were on the phone trying to talk to people at immigration, airlines etc. for the next 45 minutes. 

The Indian embassy immigration guy (the voice sounded like it could have been a gal too) said…”you just need to come to San Francisco right now and get the Visa and then you can leave to catch that flight”. FUNNY huh? Okay…I just thanked him/her and hung up. Now what? 

My daughter suggested, “Okay let us just go to the airport and talk to the people there. Since you only have 2 hrs and 40 minutes left you have nothing to lose. So let us go”. I was in a daze while she was driving. We reached the airport around 1:25 PM.

Spoke to the Singapore airlines people. They were extremely nice. They said as far as going to India, I must have VISA. If I don’t then I will be stuck in the airport there. 

Once again as per my daughter’s suggestion, since I already have the ticket and took the days off, at least go to Singapore, tour around, site see and enjoy the vacation and come back on the day I am suppose to come back.

Sounds good right? Wait but there is a catch!!  

Airlines person said…’I am so sorry, unfortunately you can’t use the same ticket to come back to LA since it was a sequential ticket. Ayyayayyayay!!! What a situation. 

So finally we decided, I go to Singapore and my daughter will book another ticket to come back to LA by mailing the Confirmation email to me.

Great!! To make a long story short…( sorry it is already long!!) the plan now is to go to Singapore by 16th, tour around and leave for Japan on 19th site see there and come back home on 22nd instead of 23rd as originally planned. 

Some how I got through the security with my carry on, since I asked my daughter to take the big suitcase back. No reason for me to carry that along when all it had was gifts.

By the time I passed through security and walked through, to get to the gate, People were already boarding.

Finally...for now...I reached Singapore around 2am on 16th. Did not have a single shut eye since the time I boarded the plane.
Now comes the other fun part.
The next chapter is about how I got stuck in the airport for 30 + hrs.

Chapter #4: 
Got Stuck in the airport

That is correct…I was in the airport for 30 + hrs. From 2 AM on 16th through 1 PM on 17th. So what was happening during these hours you ask…I will tell you… 

Could not leave the airport since I did not have the return ticket yet. My daughter purchased the ticket and tried to send the confirmation email to my email. Unfortunately my phone did not work. 

I had to go back and forth to the Internet café inside the airport to read my emails. I went to the airlines counter and asked them if they can check to see the confirmation. They said, I need to have a confirmation email with number! I asked them if there is a way to print out my emails from the Internet café. They said ‘no’! I had to go to the transit hotel to ask them if I can send my emails to them so they can print it for me. They said ok. So, I had to go back to the Internet café again to redirect my emails to the hotel desk so they can print out 2 pages from each email a total of 6 pages. (3 e-mails- 1 for ticket, 1 for hotel booking outside the airport in Singapore and one for hotel in Japan). 

HOWEVER, when they started printing, 6 pages became 81 pages with 2 lines on each page…sheesh can life get any funnier!!

(At that point I wasn’t sure whether I should scream, shout, laugh or cry) Well I decided to laugh out loud and the receptionist started laughing too. That made me relax for a few minutes. 

Finally on 17th around 1PM I went through the immigration and got out of the airport. My beautiful daughter booked a 5 star hotel for me!! I started to yell at her as to why she did that. She yelled back at me and said "Mom, just relax and have fun. I am the one who bought the ticket and it is on me". Little did she know what is waiting for me in my immediate future while vacationing!!.

Finally I reached the hotel and decided I would just relax for that day since it was already past 2 pm by then. I went to the Concierge’s desk and got information on what to see the next day. They gave me a list. Since I have only one day in Singapore, on 18th I planned to go visit the world’s largest Aquarium and the Asian civilization museum from the list on 18th.

I got up the next day got ready and was so looking forward to visiting these 2 places. While getting ready I kept hearing a lot of noises and thought may be some one was moving something….so I did not give it any more thought. Just before leaving the room I opened the curtains and nothing but rain poring down like CRAZZZZZZY with thunderstorms the whole day. That was what I heard t…h…u…n…d…e…r….It was like that all day So I obviously I couldn’t go anywhere. Just went around the airport again. Boo hahaha …Ke ke ke!!!

Chapter #5
Nihon…how beautiful are you?

The next day I left for Japan. I was so looking forward to it. I know I can be more at ease in Japan since I was just there last year. 

If I may digress… I have seen a few countries and thoroughly enjoyed visiting all. However, this one captured my soul. Japan is and always will be first on my list. My opinion has nothing to do with beautiful temples, scenic areas, cleanest hotels, amazing architecture, excellent 1st grade convenient stores, extremely well organized railway system, to name a few. 

All the credit goes to the people in Japan. This is where I say the phrase ‘people make the country’ is more appropriate. People there are the most polite, well-mannered, well focused, extremely organized and go out of their way to help others. I loved every second of it while I was there last year. 

Now back to my story. I reached Japan on 19th, which was my Mom and Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary day.

By the time I reached my hotel and settled down, it was around 3pm ish, so I decided to just walk around the hotel, and inquired about tourist spots and got information on a temple, which is a 25-minute walk from the hotel. So I made plans to go there the next day. The receptionist was trying to explain with a really thick accent as to how to get there and I was focusing on what she was saying but not really understanding it. In the mean time there was this young British guy, who heard that and came over and explained to me how to get there and gave me directions. The receptionist was happy that I was happy. 

I walked through the little street while looking at these little shops and finally reached the temple. Guess what… it really took exactly 25 minutes!! 

The temple is called Shinshoji temple. It is a Buddhist temple. It was amazing, beautiful and they had a ceremony, which reminded me of temple ceremonies in India. The chanting sounded like Aum…..”. It was peaceful and very scenic. I was there for a couple of hours admiring the sculptures. I sort of lost in thought and all the stuff I was going through for the past few day not to mention since my CC incident, all of that did not even matter any more. 

It was time for me to get back to the hotel. It should be simple enough. Just walk back the way I came right? NOOOOOOOOPE ☹… 

I was trying to find my way back. I saw a large store, which looked like a fancy bakery. I went in to ask for directions. As soon as I stepped in 4 young ladies immediately came to me, formed a line, bowed towards me and started to say something in Japanese. 

I was a bit baffled right at that moment. Are they thinking I am some sort of a ‘Princess’!! Oh…all right…okay…’Queen’. I think I have already passed the princess stage!

Then I thought, may be there is some one behind me? I looked behind but there was no one! So I started to bow too. Ha! ha! ha! Then I realized based on what they said they were greeting me as a customer. Well so much for my convoluted imagination thinking I was ‘A princess’!! Sorry… ‘A Queen’!!! 

[Based on my parent’s comments, I am still a princess in their eyes….so there!!!] Okay, enough of my self admiration! 

I started to tell them that I was lost and need to go to my hotel. I gave them the name of the hotel. They talked amongst themselves to figure out what I said and became so excited to help me. 

One lady started to explain in Japanese and a few words of English. I couldn’t understand and showed my blank face with a puzzled look. Second lady jumped in started to explain a bit differently, I still showed my blank face but with a smile. 

Another lady immediately said…”aaah…" and signaled me to wait, and then went to an older lady and explained my situation to her, and brought her to me. As soon as I saw her I knew she would probably know how to explain in English. 

She comes and bows to me. I reciprocated and explained again in English and she was so enthused (that made me think these people are so special not like any others I have encountered) and immediately goes to one counter and gets me a card with a street map and in her own accent she shows me where I am on the map and how to get to the hotel. It would take another 15 minutes to walk. 

I thanked them all from the bottom of my heart saying 'arigato guzaimassu' to each one of them. Started to leave and once again they bowed standing in a straight line. I bowed even more and left with a happy heart. 

I kept the card that lady gave me. I will keep it with me forever with fond memories. 

While walking I spoke to another lady on the way. She was an owner of one of the shops. She smiled at me and said something. I didn’t know what. It is funny because we both did not know what the other person was saying but our faces were all full of ‘smiles’. People like that make our world a better place to live. 

Finally I reached my hotel relaxed and had coffee. Then went to the receptionist desk to get information about next day’s agenda, which is 21st, the only day left before I leave for LA on 22nd. 

Wait...my story is not done yet. I have one more day left. You probably are guessing what might have happened...right? 

On 21st, I wanted to go to ‘Asakusa’. There are so many places to see there. Especially a shopping street called ‘Nakamise’ where you will find traditional Japanese stuff such as kimonos, and interesting souvenirs, etc… It is near another beautiful Budhist temple called Sensoji. Sensoji is the oldest temple there in Tokyo. When we went last year we visited that place and I really liked it. The lantern of that temple is used as their landmark in that town. The gate to that temple is called ‘Kaminari-Mon’. This is also written on that huge lantern. Guess what…OoooooHoooo we are getting to that fun part where you have read in my writing before.

So I got all my plans in place for the next day. Got ready. 

By the way, remember I was mentioning about the lantern and what it has on it? It reads “Kaminari-mon”. There is a meaning to that phrase and it played its part on that day.

All right already, don’t go google it now. I will tell you what it means. It means “Thunder Gate”!! I opened the curtain and saw Crazy …windy… rainy… unbelievable weather. That is correct. Hmmmm!!!!

Any way, I decided to go at that point and I sort of did not care. I was about to step outside the hotel, receptionist runs towards me with an umbrella. I thought that was so sweet. I thanked her and looking at the umbrella to open. 

That is when I heard the receptionist say “Oh Oh….”. 

I looked at her and she was looking out side. So I followed my gaze towards where she was looking at. Then, you wouldn’t believe what I saw. A lady walking with an umbrella that was all curled upside down and drenched in water. 

Then I quietly gave the umbrella back to the receptionist and said, “No thanks I will just sit in my room and watch Japanese shows. ☹ 

Finally left for home on 22nd morning. I must say it was an adventure or should I say “a missed adventure” …which I will remember forever.

Thank you all for patiently reading my story. Although as it was happening (most of it anyway...) it might have been frustrating. But now looking back at it it was not that bad. I have collected some interesting memories to keep. Don't you think?