A Diamond in the Emerald Sea
British Adventure traveler Claire, flying solo on British Airways to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, had given orders to the flight attendants to wake her for meals. She got her meals, and was awakened to prepare for landing. Rested and happy, she looked forward to arrival and boarding on a Gulf Air flight that was bound for Mumbai, India. Neither Abu Dhabi nor Mumbai was her final destination. Rather, she had booked a charter flight from Mumbai that would take her to one of the airports in the Maldives Islands. She had scheduled a boat trip to take her to her island, which she thought of as a “Diamond in the Emerald Sea.”
But, life sometimes puts curves in our plans. Over Pakistan, the captain of her second flight informed passengers that technical problems required them to land unscheduled at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan. Grateful for a safe landing, Claire and the other passengers awaited news that would affect their travel plans. The news was not good. The airline planned to fix the problem and would put the passengers up in a local hotel until the fix was completed. The time estimate for the delay was at least three days, perhaps more.
The local airline staff picked the hotel. Some passengers objected, wanting a different hotel, but the staff would not pay for stay elsewhere. However, they did provide a generous meal voucher plan that would allow the stranded passengers to dine where they wish and present a bill for reimbursement of costs, up to a reasonable amount. In that, Claire formed her plan. She decided that dining fit well with sight-seeing. Why not make this inconvenience an adventure? She tried to get others to cooperate, but no one else was willing to leave the safe confines of the hotel. So, after settling in, Claire struck out on her own, trusting a cab driver to take her to interesting, but safe places to experience.
At dinner time on the first day, she stumbled upon a tour group. They were British, like her! A bus had spilled them out in front of a western-looking restaurant that had pictures of the food they serve and an English-language menu. Claire remembered that she had seen an Anthony Bourdain television show in which he mentioned such things as indicative of a poor meal. All of these tourists were lined up like salmon passing through narrow waters. “All salmon are fish,” Claire decided, “but, not all fish are salmon.” Claire told her cab driver to pick an eatery that the locals like, and that she would pay for his meal there if he would interpret for her.
Claire had a great time. The cab driver took her to his favorite place to eat, where his friends hang out, and he told his friends that the spunky Brit was his client and they should treat her like a queen! Claire could not understand their language of Urdu, but the cab driver interpreted. She and they learned that they all had a quirky sense of humor and liked to tell jokes. The different languages meant that the Pakistanis laughed as a group at her jokes, and she laughed alone at theirs. Plus, she got to try some of many meals, because everyone ordered something different and everyone shared!
Back at her hotel, Claire thanked her new Pakistani friend and cab driver. She scheduled his service for tomorrow morning, and she told him that she might get a few of her fellow travelers to come with.