I am in India right now. However it was not easy getting here. You would think, going anywhere these days would be the easiest thing. You buy a ticket whether for a flight, bus or train, and be allowed safe passage. Think again! Even though I think with the advent of social media we tend to complain too much or at least have a platform for doing so, I feel compelled to write this post. If my story prevents even one person making the same mistake I made, I and this post would have done their job.
I was to travel a week ago, by an airline I had never traveled before. As I am known to be a creature of habit, never liking change too much, travel is no different. I like to and am loyal to certain airlines. When ticket prices showed a low fare on a new airline, I succumbed to wanting to save money (my other favourite pastime, some may call me stingy, I prefer to call myself frugal and smart!). The airline is Qatar Airways and I was sold by their mantra, “We are the World’s best airline”. How stupid of me!
On March 22nd (also my day of travel to India), when the day the world in Europe, turned somewhat black by terrorist acts in Brussels, I did not think to check if it would affect travel in Holland. I left three hours before the flight was to take off. Enough time since the train ride from Rotterdam to the airport is usually a maximum of 45 minutes by the slowest train. I was supposed to reach in 25. What followed was the most harrowing journey to the airport. A change of 3 trains, lugging around a bag that weighed 23 kilos (half my weight) was excruciating. Every train I got into promised a journey to the airport but failed their promise half way through. Why is this happening I asked one conductor? To which he replied, “Bomb threats at a train station (vital to connecting trains in my journey) and a suicide incident.” The Dutch police kept Holland safe that day, taking every threat (of which there were several) seriously. I applaud them and thank them for their service that day.
So a journey that should’ve taken 25 minutes took me 2 hours. I reached the airport in a harried state running to the desk knowing that the staff would understand what I had gone through. How could they not? This was happening on the ground in Holland after all.
I reached a half hour to spare, with a flight that had not left. I reached a two manned desk to meet the eyes of Qatar representatives looking at me with utter disgust. I stared at them in horror when they brushed me off, rudely telling me it was just not possible to get me on the flight. I pleaded, asking if they could not send my bag the next day, because I could have have made that flight without a delay to the hundreds of people. Note, I was all checked in. My pleading fell on deaf ears. My e-ticket was rudely thrown at me while being told that I needed to remove myself and go to the ticketing section. Where I was again rudely informed that my ticket didn’t allow a rebooking and I would have to buy an entirely new ticket. No amounts of saying what had happened made any difference.
I take pride in holding myself to a high standard. If I had been lazy and had not arrived on time I know I did not have a leg to stand on. And even if the staff did not let me get on a flight that was closed I might have understood if not for the way in which I was handled. I have never EVER in my years and years of travel been treated so inhumanely on a day when the staff should have been trained to be their humane best. What kind of a world do we live in? Is this how we are taught to treat one another?
To cut an extremely long story a little short, this story gets a lot worse, when on multiple attempts to call customer service, after one conflicting story after another, I am told that my ENTIRE ticket has been cancelled???????????? So even if I got to India somehow, I would not be able to use my return flight.
I would never fly this airline again and request you to do the same. Even if they offer you the lowest possible fare. Thats how they trap you. Learn from my mistake.
Now, this drink is drunk at the festival of Holi in India. I was supposed to attend it if I had got to India on time. I knew I had to let go of at least some anger and sadness, so I brought Holi to Holland even if in smallest measure.
It is not for nothing that this drink is called an energy drink. It is a powerhouse of strength giving elements. Thandai, literally means to cool. And cool it does. And much more. Made with delicious Indian spices and wonderful dried nuts, this drink is a must in warm summer days. It is creamy, so incredibly flavourful and yummy like you wouldn’t believe it.
It has the power to be a meal in itself. AND, easy as hell to make.
So I made it, chilled it, drank it and now I am going to make the people of Qatar listen to what I have to say. You know why? Because never let anyone treat you poorly even if you are against a giant.
Change the world by saying NO because with this drink in my belly and yours, we are stronger than popeye!
- 1⁄3 cup raw whole almonds
- 3 tbsp. poppy seeds
- 2 tbsp. raw cashew halves
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. shelled pistachios
- 4 cups whole milk (use almond milk to make this drink vegan)
- 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 10-12 black peppercorns
- 10 green cardamom pods
- A few strands of saffron (optional)
- (a handful of all three nuts mentioned above, chopped and for decoration)
- Soak the almonds overnight so you can remove the skin. In the morning discard the skin.
- Combine seeds, cashews, and pistachios with 2 cups of water; soak for 1 hour. Drain nuts and seeds; set aside.
- Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan. Add sugar and saffron, stirring until sugar is dissolved; set aside. Toast the fennel, peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon in an pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly. Transfer spices to a food processor, along with the nut mixture, 3-4 tablespoons of milk mixture. Puree to a smooth paste (it will still be grainy). Whisk paste into the milk mixture, and strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on solids. Chill strained milk mixture for about an hour or two.
- Serve with some more chopped nuts and a few strands of saffron.