Saturday, 26 March 2011

March 7th - Narita Airport

    "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! We're not gonna get on! They're gonna take off without us," was running through my mind as the help desk assistant worked frantically at her keyboard, trying to get me a visa to enter Australia with only 30 minutes to go before the check-in gates opened.
    "I'm sorry sir, but there is a strong possibility that I won't be able to get you a visa in time for your flight as the immigration office in Australia is going to close real soon," said the help desk assistant.
    "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck..."
    Let me back up and explain whats going on, now you have sampled a little of how I was feeling. Oh, and this is far from the start of the stress I have been through today.
    In the car on the way to Narita airport, and I'm pretty confident that we haven't forgotten anything this time. No problem. All double checked, 'I's dotted and 't's crossed.
    I asked Chigu if she packed the charger for the camera battery.
    "Nope, I thought you did," she said.
    "Right... I didn't pack it either."
    So we discovered that we HAD forgotten something, and something pretty important considering the camera only had half it's battery left.
    A quick trip to a local shopping centre near the airport was hopeless, so I hopped onto IRC with my iPhone (Internet relay chat) hoping that Alex or Eugene were in presence and able to possibly order one for me. As luck would have it, they were both available and both keen to help me out. After a quick chat with Alex, he offered to order me a charger for me to collect when I meet him on Friday! Yay, that little palaver was over! On to the airport.
    We got to the airport with plenty or time to spare, but the queue was LONG! While waiting I saw a familiar looking face. It was a teacher from the school I used to work at. What a coincidence! After a brief chat I discovered that she was heading to cairns with her daughter.
    We got towards the front of the queue when one of the staff members announced that passengers heading to cairns could come to the front of the queue. Excellent, but that must mean that we are getting close to boarding time. Anyway, we got to the front and finally got to check our bags in when it all broke down.
    "What name have you taken your visa in, said the check in attendant to Chigu, meaning York or Yamada.
    "What? I haven't got a visa," replied Chigu.
    "You haven't got a visa? Have you sir," she continued, talking to me.
    "Erm, no. I haven't," I replied.
    "Ok, then, you're going to have to go over there and we'll try to get you a visa, but I can't guarantee that we can get you one at this hour," said the check-in staff, voice full of worry.
    It started: "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuuuuuucccckkkkkk..."
    Chigu looked like she was going to burst out crying, and I felt the sweat start to break out on my brow. We had forgotten something a lot more important than a camera charger after all! I had no idea that we would need to get a visa before we booked our flights, hotels, excursions and of course: gigs! Things were getting serious, and i started to recall the time when I brought the wrong passport and couldn't get through customs a year before.
    At the help desk, a seriously stressed, but perfectly professional staff member took my passport and started the visa application process immediately. Another woman took Chigu's and began processing hers, too. With the speed at which they typed on the keyboard and the look they had in their eyes, I was almost relieved and convinced that things would be ok, but still, I didn't want to think like that and jinx it.
    Looking over at Chigu, she was looking extremely nervous and asked me if she should notify the woman handling her process that her name had changed from Yamada to York. I told her not to interfere as the woman looked like she knew what she was doing. However, things didn't turn out well.
    The woman looking after Chigu had applied for a visa using Chigu's maiden name: Yamada. Chigu did finally tell her that her name had changed, at which point, her face dropped.
    "James' application had come through," came a glorious announcement from the woman applying for me. Bad timing. Just as Chigu had found out that her application would need doing again, my visa came through.
    "Right, I'll meet you in Cairns tomorrow then," I joked to Chigu, which as you would expect, didn't go down too well.
    After a few more minutes of sheer terror wondering whether we would actually make it aboard the flight or not, the help desk assistant rang the Australian immigration office and got them to edit Chigu's application.
    All in all, it went through, we were amazingly relieved and (again) we got an escort (running help desk assistant) to the boarding gate, and made the flight.
    I was of course very relieved (and had a bit too much adrenaline running through my veins):


No comments:

Post a Comment