Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Journey of Life Time

I have sent my wife and daughters off to meet my Mother and relatives in Chengdu, China. Owing to a variety of reasons and factors, I could not go. But this time, my wife and kids embargoed a  trip to meet my mother and relatives, at a location of their convenience. I wonder what my mother will react when seeing my two daughters, and Choekyi. Even though she could not meet me this time, but my wife and kids will fill my shoes in bringing her jubilation, and joy and happiness.

Being an American Tibetan, the visa application is not an easy process.  I networked with an individual from the embassy, befriended with a person of influence. And filled the visa applications form and submitted all required paper works from those acquired from Tibet.  Finally, my sheer grit and determination paid off.  My wife, kids, and relatives get one month visa to travel to China. When it becomes apparent that my travel to China is proving to be difficult one, then I choose to send my wife and kids to see my mother without me.  They will represent me in this family reunion, and I have no words to express my happiness. My mom spoke to me on the phone, saying that she is overjoyed and thrilled at the prospect of seeing them. At the same time, she gently pushing to make my visit happen soon, given her advanced age, which I promised would happen sooner or later.

Trip planning is always a hassle. When the visa is confirmed, then you book the tickets. Travel agents are not all that reliable. You have to choose between booking the ticket yourself online or enlist the service of a travel agent.   I picked an agent, after making inquiry with several of them. And this agent gave me a good fare deal with several choices and preferred date for the trip.

 My wife and kids plan to stay about ten days in Chengdu with my mother, and after that, they will leave for Nepal, where they will spend the bulk of their holiday, until time to return for fall semester. My cousin brother Sonam Tsering in Chengdu have proven to be a reliable and extremely helpful throughout. He responded to request with speed and efficiency, accuracy. He understands issues from all prospective and unafraid of communicating with us with much gusto and gut.

My wife is a savvy tireless shopper. I know she looks for good deal, and quality. In a matter of a week, she has bought things to fill one large suitcase. Despite our insistence to avoid buying too many clothes, she could not resist. A little shopping addiction, plus it becomes habitual for her to shop for gift and present for others during the trip.  I know that is a kind and generous of her, but I wouldn't be able to do that giving the time and energy required to shopping. I adore and cherish new clothes she buy for me,  almost everything that I put on has her marks on it. I  took a week off from work to help plan and prepare this journey to meet my family. As a habit, Choekyi hesitates at times for this lone long trip with two kids in hand, and I understand this is not going to be easy. But eventually, she is gracious enough to make the journey on my behalf.


In between visa application, ticket booking and last minute Nepalese embassy visa application and so on. I have overlooked some details on the Chinese visa. When my wife and kids and I arrive at the airport on Friday morning, the check in - airport security personnel brings to our attention with the issue of visa entry date. I was completely thrown off and surprised how we could miss that. Then I recall earlier someone informing Donyong's story of sending back to Washington from Shanghai. I could not risk sending my kids and wife to face all those problems. But at the same time, I don't want to disappoint my mother, for she has been waiting for it for long. So with a call to my friend in Embassy and a quick trip to the Chinese embassy, I could sort it out, and the visa was immediately reissued. But on the way, I also alerted the travel agent regarding my visa issue for the trip, and for which somehow she canceled the ticket.  It was a little too earlier. Otherwise, we could have flown to NY the next flight as the airport officials agree, except, choekyi would have to deal with that baggage all by herself.   Anyhow, the flight had to be changed, and for the next day, with an expensive penalty and fees, the tickets have been reissued.   When it is urgent, money makes the world go around, and I didn't mind that. I did not give up when faced with challenges and left no stone unturned to make the best out of the bad situation.


This morning around 2:00 am, my brother in law, and I went to see them off at the airport. As the visa date issue sorted out and tickets paid and confirmed, it was smooth and hassle free in checking the luggage's, and fortunately the booking officer also helped to send our bags all the way to the final destination. It was a big relieve for me, as my wife will have less trouble and difficulties in handling luggage with two kids.
Before their departure final leg of their journey from NY, my wife left me a voice message saying that there is another Tibetan on board. So that was great, she can get assistance in handling the luggage, after arriving in Shanghai or Chengdu.  Choekyi and kids are all tired, as it was an early morning departure, which disrupted their sleep.  But while laying over in NY airport, they seemed to have fun. Eating lots of food, and Choekyi told me she even bought bottles of whiskey in the airport.   So I said alright, lots of money is spent and required for such a trip, and whatever little saving we had is worth spending for this journey of a lifetime for my family, to meet my Mom.      

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