NYC

It was going to be a busy month of March, with back-to-back trips, one to Puerto Rico and New York (as I already told you so far), and then back to Tokyo for a few days to re-pack my suitcase for another trip, down to Australia, to attend my friend’s wedding.

Half way into the week, through disconnected chat with the groom in Melbourne, with me looking out to the cold snowy street of the 13th street, I found out that their wedding, the one I put my hand up to photograph for, was not at the end of the following week, but the end of the week, as in, 3 days away. As soon as I got off work and back at my hotel I looked for flights and found that it would be possible to make it there if I left on Thursday flight to make the ceremony in Melbourne on Saturday early afternoon. That’s if I got through the immigration and quarantine quickly, I was thinking. I was worried that it could take a bit of time. Regardless, I brought forward my leave by a week, booked in Qantas flights and packed my suitcase.

The next morning, I checked out of the serviced apartment and went to work by taxi to work, with a suitcase with me.

Snow coming down

It was getting cold and the snow was coming down again, rather in full force, as I got ready to get in a cab to JFK. It seemed the snow was getting heavier by the minute as the taxi made its way through Manhattan.

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I got the JFK pretty much on time, and seeing my flight was still showing on-time departure, I checked in. At the gate, I could see the runway was slowly turning into a field of white. But the planes were still coming in and going out.

Then came a slight delay in preparing the craft for the stint. My tight-rope trip to make wedding on time looked at risk. I couldn’t sit still and walked around the small terminal.

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With a little under an hour of delay, I think it was, we were on board Qantas flight to Sydney via Los Angeles, where I was scheduled to switch to Melbourne-bound flight. As the doors closed and the plane were on the run way, there was an announcement from the flight deck saying that we were in a short queue for the ‘hose down’, like a car wash on runway that makes sure there is no ice frozen on the moving parts of the aircraft before take off. I started watching a movie on the in-flight movie on-demand. It was another half an hour before we got through it the wash-down. Then another announcement – we were positioned as the next couple of flights to take off, but since the other runway had now closed due to snow, the landing crafts took priority and we just had to wait a bit. I finished a movie before we heard again from the captain saying we are now next up to take off.

Then, as soon as I’d relaxed and got into the next movie knowing we’d be up in the air soon, another announcement came. The wind had now picked up substantially, so much so it was too strong for Qantas’s strict safety standard guidelines. We were not flying until it got quiet.

So that’s how we got stuck on the runway, watching movie and looking outside from time to time, and eventually we were off. There was no way I was able to make the Melbourne flight at Los Angeles. How is it going to work out? The answer came from flight attendant shortly after departure, saying that there were many passengers (among the cabin only less than half full) who were scheduled to make connecting flights to various destinations in Australia. They would make arrangement for alternative connecting flights, to try to get us all to our destination as soon as possible.

There was nothing I could do about it now. I was definitely going to miss the wedding. If the flight makes up for the lost time and had an early flight, would I make at least the reception? I took up the 3 seats in the middle, spread out and slept, in anticipation for a major jet lag when I land in Australia. Before that, though, I woke up as we were on approach to LAX.

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At the gate, the ground staff were handing out boarding pass to the alternative connecting flight for every connecting passenger. It was 3am in LA. According to the new itinerary, I was to board back on the Sydney-bound QF flight, and connect to Melbourne flight from there. I could only arrive in the late afternoon. I crossed off the reception as well in my mind.

For a moment, the thought of going straight to Sydney crossed my mind. After all, that was where I was headed for the following week. What was there to do by flying to Melbourne now that I was not going to make the wedding? But I decided to play along with it, and hoped I could find out where some of the friends may be gathering at the after-wedding dinner. Maybe I could also find a few other friends, those artists busking on the street may be about.

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After a bit of walk around the terminal to stretch the joints, brush my teeth and I got back on the QF. Estimated arrival in Sydney was 2pm. I was originally pushing to arrive at 11am in Melbourne. That’s some change of plans.

Connected in Sydney, I was in Melbourne at 5pm. I sent text to a couple of friends to find out where the dinner is going to be. I pulled my suitcase to the restaurant on SouthBank. When I had found out the wedding was a week earlier, I told my friends I was not going to make it to the wedding. I waited to see the look on their face when they showed.

It was nice to catch up with friends. After dinner, I pulled the suitcase to Swanston street to find a couple of busking musicians. I found a bed for the night at one of their flats.

Buskers  at home - Melbourne

drawing of me
Just sat down at one of busking artists’ flats and found myself subjected to a portrait drawing by Frank.

the real coffee again, Joe's Garage, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Real coffee – that’s what you miss while living in Tokyo.

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