So that day in HCMC, as I was walking back from the ATM, to almost certainly be put on the next flight back to New Delhi, I thought to myself, "I am here now; what can I do" - something that IBM taught me, when as a 'fresh' graduate I had joined my first job, my manager would always tell me, "Don't come to me with a problem; come to me with a solution". So I went to the travel desk, and there were two Vietnamese girls in their Ao Dai, talking to a customer. I patiently stood in line, my guitar and my suitcase in my hand. When it was my turn, I walked up to them and told them my story - "My card isn't working... I will get my money next week... I need $50...I can leave my suitcase and guitar here till I return with the money..." Ridiculous, right? Well, I didn't know what else to do. And wait, what happened next was that one of the girls pulled open the drawer, took out $50, and said "Please return it, because I'm taking this out on my account". I could barely believe what had happened, and offered to leve my guitar behind, but she wouldn't have any of that. I got her phone number, thanked her maybe a hundred times and ran to the visa office. I paid my dues, got the three month, multiple entry visa, and went back to thank the girl. She smiled and said it was no problem, I promised her I would return the money soon, and left. It took me 7-10 days to find the time from my schedule to call her back, and when I did she was surprised, for when she had told her story to her friends, all of them convinced her that she had been cheated. I called her for dinner to a restaurant close to the place where I stayed, and returned her money, and she thanked me for returning the money and restoring her faith in kindness, and I obviously kept thanking her all throughout dinner.
Back to Frankfurt, when I was given the option of boarding the flight back to India. I thought to myself, "I am here now; what can I do?". I tried writing to the IIE folks and the Fulbright office in India, but it was a Sunday, and neither office was open. I didn't have an international calling card, and the official from the US was extremely business like, without any appearance of feeling in him - he may well have been a robot or a coded clone. "I have checked with the authorities concerned, and the only options available to you at the moment are to locate your I-94 or be deported back to your home country". I realised there was no use reasoning or pleading with him - he was certainly not another Nga Nguyen - he was just another American who wouldn't see anything that hasn't been printed in his book of rules. As I stood there, waiting for a miracle, Angela from UAL came back to me, and figured out from my face that I had had no luck, and looked me in the eye and said, "I know you said that you don't think it's in your checked-in luggage, but why don't you check once? Your flight leaves in 20 minutes, so you don't really have much time". I said okay, and she made a few phone calls, escorted me three floors down, and 5 minutes later, I was rummaging through my checked in backpack - and tucked in neatly and carefully, under a few layers of clothing, was a file where all my important documents had been filed neatly, and right in front of all of them was the DS 2019 form. I could have hugged and kissed Angela at that moment, but I realised the inappropriateness of that action, and not wanting to get into further trouble, I thanked her thrice as I quickly packed my bag up, and thanked the guy who had got it up, for he had to now take it back to the cargo slot. I ran back and showed the American the DS form, upon which he remarked, with no sign of a smile remotely appearing on his face, "I'm glad you were able to locate it. You saved yourself a lot of trouble". I couldn't possibly have been bothered with that statement, and almost feeling victorious, I walked up to the line, where they were nearly done with the boarding. I walked in, placed my hand baggage in the overhead cabin, and as I sat down and buckled up, I realised that maybe I still had a lot of growing up to do.