The US Justice Department had recently alleged that an Indian government official was involved in the foiled plot to assassinate Pannun.
As my flight glided to a stop at Geneva, I felt immensely relieved. I had missed the earlier flight, and the present flight was bringing me to Geneva no more than three hours before a dinner meeting with the distinguished group, Club of Rome.
The relief was short lived: the airlines could not find my suitcase. The speculation was it had gone to Frankfurt.
I was in jeans! The airlines gave me an Overnight Kit and some cash as temporary relief, but late on the Saturday evening where would I find an evening suit when the stores were already closed in Geneva? I called my host frantically on the way to the hotel and explained the awkward circumstances.
Calmly, he asked how much I weighed and how tall I was. Half an hour later, he arrived in my room with two shirts, two ties and an evening suit, all his own. These fitted me perfectly. No surprise, he said, because his height and weight were coincidentally the same as mine.
The meeting went well and I was delighted. When I returned to my hotel, a message was waiting for me. My suitcase hadn’t gone to Frankfurt; it had been picked up by mistake by another passenger and he had since returned it to the airport.
Could I come and collect it? It had been a long day, but I went to collect it nonetheless. The next morning the key didn’t work well, but I managed to open the suitcase after some effort. Women’s clothes spilled out of the suitcase in profusion.
Exhausted, I hadn’t noticed the previous night what wasn’t easily noticeable: the suitcase looked like mine but wasn’t mine. Another wasteful trip to the airport, another Property Irregularity Report and Overnight Kit.
The airlines representative worked twenty minutes on his computer and came up, smiling, with the news that the missing suitcase had been located in Amsterdam and would be in Geneva the next day.
But, since I would be in London by that time, I suggested that the suitcase be sent there. I was assured that it would be there before my arrival. It wasn’t. It wasn’t even when I left three days later. The suitcase came two days after I returned to Washington, DC. I was told it was waiting for me in Tokyo.
(The writer is a Washington-based international development advisor and had worked with the World Bank. He can be reached at email@example.com)