The Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa and Entebbe leaves Mumbai at 5.45 am, for which you have to report at 2.45 am, which is a time for feeling like a corpse. Everyone in the airport was behaving like a zombie. A particularly petrified specimen wearing a blue coat, peaked cap and wings on his lapels was wandering around like Frankenstein's monster. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. "Tom", I whispered, "is that our pilot?". "Gotta be" he said, nonchalantly "hardly any other flights taking off at this time". I tried hard to recall the Gayatri Mantra.
The lady at check-in asked us where our visas for Uganda were, and gave us a look of intense suspicion when we told her that it was visa on arrival. I sweated a bit under the collar because I just realized that all that we had was George's unsupported word for it. For all we knew, Uganda might be more paranoid than North Korea even, and I had visions of a Tom Hanks like existence in The Terminal. Then I spied her giving the same treatment to another doofus first timer and realized that this babe was the practical joker in chief there. A lot of high fives would be exchanged behind the check-in counter once the flight had taken off.
The flight was most pleasant. The stewardess fell for my looks and kept plying me with champagne. When I had landed at Addis five hours later, I was drunk as a lord. So were Tom and George and when they kissed us good-bye (the stewardesses, that is), they told us that we had to catch another plane to Entebbe. I realized, to my horror, that I had lost all sense of direction. And further horrors, so had messrs Tom and George. We spent the next hour staggering around Addis Ababa Bole airport. Finally, a kind soul took pity on us and shoved us onto a plane he swore was going to Entebbe. Actually, the sign said Kigali but this guy told us it was the same thing.
I sat next to a kindly old white woman who said she was going to Kigali. "You mean Entebbe", I said. "Oh no, Kigali. That's the capital of Rwanda". I spent the next hour trying to convey to Tom and George that we were being hijacked to a country where the idea of an evening's entertainment is a cosy little genocide. Well, the egg was on my face, because the flight was going to Kigali via Entebbe, where we were going to be ejected from the plane and secondly, the genocide thing is history. Rwanda is now one of the most stable countries in Africa.......
(the I.S. is yelling at me to knock it off and get some zzzzzs, it is 2 a.m, we just watched Jodha Akbar, by the way, but stay tuned. I am going to reveal a lot of Africa's dark secrets)