That was probably the only day when I aged twice as normal. I was like a headless chicken running around!Frantic, clueless and helpless. It was not just my passport that was stolen, it was my phone, my hotel address, my wallet and all my identity proofs! All in a new country, Spain. The only number I knew was my dad’s who was sleeping blissfully in Saudi. Woken up, flustered, in the middle of the night with this disturbing news of his daughter stuck in some European land with no money and no documents, my dad regained his composure almost immediately. With his calm directions, I took the metro (cheapest option) to the Indian Embassy to meet the official there. By the time I had reached, my dad had already called the Secretary and had given a background. I guess theft in Spain is pretty common but the people in the Embassy hardly blinked their eyes! This was such a common place incident that I got my passport back in just 3 hours! Also, my dad’s conversation with the first secretary worked wonders as he showed an extreme amount of sympathy; he even offered me some money to last the next couple of days till I got some money from home.
I always thought such things happened in the movies and to strangers in far far away land; never did I even consider the fact that it could happen to me! That is why I was the least prepared when this happened. Since then, I have a check list that I maintain for all my travel. We all have read a countless travel articles telling us to be safe, safer and safest, but how many of us actually do take the pointers to heart and follow them?
I thought I was one of those careful people who had their act together, after all,all I did was just to talk on the phone with my handbag on the chair next to me! The idea that someone could just take it from my side without even creating any suspicion or me noticing it is too eerie. There was a CCTV right where I was sitting but the police wouldn’t look into the footage unless otherwise ordered by the court. Helpless and alone in a new country without knowing the language made me more inclined towards looking for an immediate solution, than pushing the police to find my stolen passport. I lost hope the minute I saw the police reacting with the utmost calm to my complaint.
Since then whenever I travel, I take a lot of small measures to avoid a situation like this. Whenever I sit or take a nap at the airport, I make sure that my luggage is tied to me. I hug my bags and sleep and make sure my passport and wallet are secured in a separate location. I also make sure I keep small amounts of money in all of my pockets and in all of my bags, so if I lose one bag, I will at least have the money in the other bag and if someone picks one of my pockets, the other pocket will still have some money. I make sure I know the contact details of the Indian embassy at each country I visit. Even though, these days one has all the information they need in their phones, I still make sure there is a second place where all my important numbers and accommodation details are stored. I have started reading the insurance document to understand what they covered.
In spite of all these measures, I lost my debit card in Bali this time. I simply forgot to take it from the ATM after pocketing the money. Somethings like this are just plain stupidity and no amount of reading and memorizing numbers can help you with this. You just have to be mentally present all the time while in another country simply to have a hassle free vacation.