For the first couple of days after arriving in Calgary, I wondered, through my jet lag fog, what I would write about in order to wrap up the final leg of Year Four, of our overseas travel. I felt it would have been nice if there were something dramatic to write about, instead of just complaining about the fact that it was zero degrees Centigrade when we landed, and snowing. Be careful what you wish for, drama happens.
When I finally got around to sorting out my travel purse and transferring items into my regular purse, I came across my passport, tucked into the outside pocket of my travel purse. This is the most insecure pocket in the whole bag, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found it there. I usually carry our passports in a flat body purse, nestled in the small of my back, under my clothing. We have been doing this for years and have never had an issue with misplaced travel documents.
Before leaving Madrid, Anil suggested that we didn’t really have to use the body purses any longer, that the passports would be safe in my travel purse while we flew home to Calgary. I wasn’t so sure, but I knew I wanted to be comfortable on the long flight across the Atlantic, so I packed the body purse in my carry-on bag and put the passports in a secure, zippered pocket in my travel purse. I have to say, for the whole trip home, I kept feeling uncomfortable because I kept thinking that I had forgotten to wear the body purse; I’ve become so used to the feeling of it around my waist.
Okay, where is this all leading? Well, I found my passport but Anil’s was nowhere to be seen. Panic! I always keep the two passports together so there was little chance that I had put it somewhere else. I searched everywhere but didn’t find it. I began to think that I must have dropped the passport somewhere, seeing that mine was found flopping around in the unzippered pocket. I knew I had presented both passports when we passed through immigration at the Calgary airport, so I had to have lost it since then. Was it possible I had dropped it in the airport itself, or that someone had slipped it out of my purse when I was waiting for our bags to arrive?
While I was miserable to have lost the passport, I was relieved that at least we were back in Canada and Anil wouldn’t need it until we were ready to travel again. It would also be relatively easy to get another passport in Edmonton, but I hated to face the hassles of explaining what happened to the old one, as well as paying the fees again. To make matters worse, we each have a visa for Chile in our current passports, and the visa is good as long as the passport is valid. If we want to pass through Chile again, before the passports expire, we won’t have to pay the US $135 (each) again. Getting a new passport for Anil was beginning to look like a time consuming, expensive proposition.
I called the Calgary airport and learned from Lost and Found that no passport with Anil’s name had been turned in. The second night we were with Raj and Vy they took us to a nearby restaurant, called Fergus & Bix, for dinner. I called the restaurant and asked if the passport was there; perhaps it had fallen from my purse when I left the booth. No luck there either. It didn’t seem there was anything else we could do, but hope that if someone found it, they would attempt to call the family contact number Anil listed in on the passport’s last page. I decided to wait till the following week to call Passport Canada in Edmonton and report the loss.
A few days later, Raj was out running errands and when he returned he walked over to Anil and handed him a passport. Anil opened it and was stunned to find it was his own. I practically jumped out of my chair, and assumed that Raj had found it in his car; perhaps it had fallen between the back seats while we were riding with him. That would have been a happy ending indeed, but the full story was even more remarkable.
Raj had received a call from a man who claimed he had found a passport lying in the snow in the parking lot at Fergus & Bix. He wasn’t sure what to do with it, but thought of calling Passport Canada to see if it had been reported missing. A few days later, he returned for another meal at the restaurant and happened to notice a note about a lost passport on the front door. The staff member must have noted down Raj’s number when we called and passed it along to the Good Samaritan.
After asking Raj several questions in order to confirm he was the son of one Anil Kapoor of Edmonton, they arranged to meet. Raj had to drive clear across the city, but the man was waiting for him as promised and refused to accept the offer of a reward for the trouble he had taken. It’s wonderful to find such caring people still out there in this hectic world. Raj called Fergus & Bix to thank them for making the effort to post the note, offered a reward there as well and. once again, was told people were just happy to be of assistance.
I knew I wanted to return to the restaurant to thank the manager or waiter in person, but I felt there was more I could do to get the message out about how the staff at this neighbourhood eatery had gone ‘above and beyond’ to help us out. I happened to be looking up the address of Fergus & Bix on Google Maps, and noticed a restaurant review site. I quickly composed a review explaining how we have enjoyed the food and the atmosphere but that it was heartwarming to find such caring staff there too.
A few days later, we returned for dinner and after ordering our meals, I asked the waitress if she could send the manager over to speak with us. She looked a little alarmed, but off she went. We were almost finished eating but the manager had not appeared, so we asked the waitress again. I know she thought she had offended us in some way or other. When the manager arrived, I asked him to sit with us for a moment, and he looked really concerned. When I explained how happy we were with everything and then praised his staff for helping reunite us with the passport, you could see the relief wash over his face.
He told us he is rarely called over for ‘bouquets’, it’s usually ‘beefs’, but I am of the opinion that we share our complaints much more readily than our compliments and I was only too happy to give praise where praise is due. To our surprise, when our relieved waitress returned, she happily told us that the manager had reduced our bill by 10%. We told her this wasn’t necessary at all, but she reminded us about how pleased her manager was to have learned that the staff had been so exceptionally helpful.
All’s well that ends well. I’m off the hook for losing the passport in the first place, we don’t have the hassles or cost of replacing the passport or the visa and best of all, there’s no one out there trying to sell Anil’s passport to criminals. The last thing we need is his name on a ‘no-fly’ list.
Though we have no home of our own to come to when we return to Canada each summer, and we continue to roam around and not stay in one place for long, I choose to consider that we have completed Year Four of our retirement travels. I will now take a break from writing my travel journal until we set off for Year Five. I can’t believe we’ve been at this so long already.
We started off with a five-year plan, but have found that we have been staying in most places longer than we thought we would and that our plan will most likely have to be considered an indefinite one. We’ll keep travelling and seeing the world as long as we have our health and there are no other overbearing reasons to stay put. I’ll just be sure not to ask for drama in our lives. The simple pleasures of friends, family and travel give me plenty to write about, and more than enough for my faithful readers to absorb.