Gutsy girl Srishti Bhatia recounts the nightmare moment, and what followed.
After a day of Dan Brown’s ‘Angels and Demons’ tour in Rome, my Italy trip drew to an end. I stood at the Roma Termini station to buy a bus ticket for the Fiumicino Airport, where I would catch a flight to Frankfurt. I was relaxed as it would take less than an hour to reach the airport, leaving me with a good two hours to lounge around.
The bus ticket was issued, and I opened my bag to pay the amount. That’s when the story changed. No wallet. Well, I thought. It’s a big bag; so what if I can’t find the wallet in one go. But no, my hands did not close around the familiar wallet shape. I turned my bag over and searched, and this time the finality hit. My wallet was gone. It contained over 200 Euros, all my cards, driving license…and my passport!
I began thinking back. When was the last time I had opened my wallet? Ah yes, I had taken it out at the Republica Metro Station to keep my metro ticket safely. I had not eaten or shopped the entire day, only walked. Additionally, many had told me to be careful in Rome, so I had taken all possible precautions.
However, my wallet was gone, and I had a flight to catch in three hours. The first thing I did was—well, I broke down. But even crying was a luxury in that tight situation, so I sprinted inside the Termini to look for a Police Station. Guess what: it was shut!
I rushed back to my hostel, where I had to anyway go to collect my luggage. Hope briefly surged in my heart—maybe I had left my wallet in the hostel? But a thorough search of my locked bags yielded nothing. Thankfully, I had a 100 Euro bill in my suitcase – the last amount of cash left, and an Emergency Travel Card. And I was in constant touch with my father, so when I did not find my wallet in the hostel too, I texted him to block all my cards. Meanwhile, a fellow hostel mate had Skype credit, and let me make calls to the Indian Consulate in Rome. When the call finally got through, they conveniently said that they couldn’t do much, as the Consulate was shut. It was a Sunday, you see.
The hostel caretaker and my roommates said it made no sense for me to go to the airport now, and advised me to wait it out until the next day. But I simply could not do that! I had to be in Frankfurt for work. That was the primary reason I was in Europe.
So I did not think much, just grabbed my bags and ran back to Roma Termini, to catch a fast train to the airport. Half an hour later, I was at the airport police station, which was open. The policeman there took my complaint quickly, and gave me a copy of the report. Thankfully I had two sets of photocopy of my passport and other important documents. He asked me to try my luck at the Lufthansa counter, as see if they would let me board my flight, which was about 45 minutes from take off now!
At the counter, the entire story was re-told, and they made some calls to Frankfurt. I must have been really lucky, because they allowed me to board the flight, but asked me to go to the Indian Consulate in Frankfurt the very next day and apply for an Emergency Certificate (EC) in order to be able to fly to India. Finally, a wide smile appeared on the face that had been crying for the last few hours. A loud applause for the Lufthansa crew and the Rome police who saved the day.
I was the last person to board the flight, but the happiest, I am sure.
The journey to Frankfurt was such a relaxed one and I ate food after an entire day! The night was spent in a nice hostel near the station.
Early next morning, I checked out and left for the Indian Consulate, which was a 15-20 minute walk from the hostel. They took down my complaint, and even waived off the fee for EC application, since I was short on cash. My passport-size photos had also gone with the wallet, so they clicked one with their office camera. They asked me to collect my EC in the evening.
It was a 45-minute walk from there to my company accommodation at Radisson. It was raining and I had to drag my luggage all the way. But for me, there couldn’t have been a better morning.
I checked into a Business Class room, had a hot chocolate and rested a little.
Then I thought: why waste a day sulking in my room when a new city waits to be discovered? So, I marched 45 minutes back to the station, and took the coach tour of Frankfurt. After the exciting three-hour tour, I rushed to the consulate, and got my temporary passport (which was later kept in the hotel locker)!
All’s well that ends well, but I am still not sure what else I could have done to keep my wallet safe. I had bought a big, secure one and kept it on my person all through. Any suggestions?