Note: This trip report covers the second half of the first day of our Turkey Travails…I mean Travels. For the introductory part of this series, visit: https://bit.ly/2RQV9jT
Our voyage to Istanbul was fairly routine and uneventful, as plane journeys go. On the first leg, from Mumbai to Kuwait, everyone else dozed off, while I counted the number of sheep that each passenger on the flight (except us poor Indians, of course) would be owning. Service was flawless, efficient, and on point. Medha asked for a blanket and was told only 50% passengers were eligible for them, and she should have applied for one at least three years ago; I asked for a vegetarian breakfast and was curtly informed that only Chicken Sausages were available; and Jiggy asked for Chicken Sausages and was obviously served a Vegetarian breakfast.
Kuwait Airport did not throw up any major surprises either. The bus for our terminal was supposed to leave from Gate No. 23. The only problem was, we saw signage for Gate No. 22 and Gate No. 24, but none for Gate No. 23. After hours of search, Pratik (Jiggy’s brother whom we hadn’t known from Adam till last night, remember? No? Then please stop reading this and read the first part of this series. NOW!) finally saved the day when he came back beaming and proclaimed, “I’ve finally found it.”
We joyfully hugged him and repeatedly slapped his back, till the remains of the Chicken Sausages sputtered out from his mouth, and it was then that he took something out from behind his back with a flourish and said, “Here’s the signboard for Gate No. 23.”
The only important thing we learnt at the airport was that Kuwaiti Dinar is more expensive than Gold, and for the price of one sandwich at the Airport, we could have bought a second-hand car in India, with change to spare for a 100 liters of petrol.
As soon as we landed at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Thakkar and Pratik made a beeline for the Turkcell kiosk in the Arrival Hall. Medha was touched at this, and with just a hint of tears glistening in her eyes, said, “Awwwww, they know their parents would be worried, since they hadn’t told anyone that they’re traveling abroad, so they want SIM Cards to call up home and tell the they’re OK.”
But the next thing we know, both boys are suddenly busy staring at their cellphones as if they were Superman and their X-Ray vision was the only thing that could find the bomb hidden in their respective phones.
Unable to contain her curiosity, Jiggy went closer to the boys, and peeped into their screen from under their shoulders (Both are much taller than her, so peeping from over their shoulders was not an option unfortunately). “Gotcha!” she suddenly cried out, and almost like participants in the Synchronized Swimming event at the Olympics, both boys jumped three feet into the air, and dropped their phones in perfect coordination.
Jiggy then picked up her brother’s phone, and showing the screen to us, said, “They were on Tinder, Turkish Tinder to be precise. Remember Bakhshi, you had once sent an article about it?”
I stammered, “Y..y…yesss, but….”
Pratik now butted in, “But I never got any article….”
Thakkar jauntily replied, “That is because they didn’t know you from Adam till last night, remember? I saw that article, so wanted to check out the local dating scene.”
I again tried to interject, “But did you read the article?”
“Of course not, I never do,” replied Thakkar, “But I read the title, so that’s enough. Come, look, it’s mostly in Turkish, but I’ve understood everything. Turkey is a conservative country, so there are no pics, only names, and description. Look at this one, whom I’ve just swiped right, for example: Fatima is fair, sweet, innocent, petite, big round eyes that sparkle in light. I think I’m already in love.”
And just to prove his point, he then proceeded to push us into a passing Metro….
….followed by a Tram….
….So that we could beat the evening traffic and reach our hotel at the earliest.
After a one kilometer walk from the Tram Station, we finally reached our hotel. And what a place it turned out to be. Creepers covered the building’s walls, lending a beautiful, ‘period and atmospheric’ feel to it.
Suddenly, Jiggy saw something and blurted out, “Look Thakkar, it seems she was even more eager than you to meet up. Do you think this is Fatima?”
But before Thakkar could make up his mind, I replied in a matter-of-fact manner, “No, that’s just our friend Swati, from London.”
And after around 23.5 seconds(for I’m old and not that quick on the take nowadays) I said, “Wait….WHAT? Swati is supposed to be in London. What is SHE doing here?”
By then, Medha had rushed over to her, and after a mandatory round of hugging and shouting, we finally got to hear her story. Apparently, she’d been going slow on her travels over the last few months. That is why, after her return from Slovenia, she waited for two entire days before planning an impromptu trip to Istanbul, before her trip to Egypt the next week.
We commiserated with her on the gross and unfair reduction in her travel frequency, but by this time, Thakkar was so fidgety that he was driving everyone up the wall. It was Pratik who understood Thakkar’s pain as we stood confused, and said, “Reunions can wait till after his union with Fatima.”
And so we went off to the restaurant where the twain were supposed to meet. While we ate our Mezze platter (which was paid for us but complimentary for flies, apparently), Thakkar kept going out again and again to check up on Fatima.
I, meanwhile, had no complaints, as that meant that I could have a sip, or ten, of Thakkar’s drink too, even though it was non-alcoholic 😦
On his next trip out, Thakkar remained absent for almost half an hour. All of us had huge smiles on our faces, and kept giving naughty glances to each other, for surely, the long period of absence meant that Thakkar and Fatima had finally found each other and were now, ahem ahem…in the process of discovering each other further.
Another half hour passed by the time Thakkar finally returned. His hair were disheveled, spectacles askew, and there was a dazed expression on his face. We all high-fived with each other as soon as we saw his state, but Thakkar refrained from joining in. It was then that we saw that the look on his face was not one of ecstasy, as we had been expecting, but of agony.
Finally, after much prodding, Thakkar finally said, “Bakhshi, I think it would have been a good idea if I had read your article.”
“I agree,” I said sagely, “But why in this specific case?”
“Well,” said Thakkar in a slightly abashed tone, “Turkish Tinder turned out to be a dating site all right, but for cats! And I have a feeling this one didn’t really think I was the right match for her!”