Fool me twice, shame on me!

By Aimen Siddiqui
Fri, 02, 24

In December 2017, I made a somewhat daring decision: going to Turkey on a solo trip. While I had travelled solo before, I always had someone at the airport waiting for me.....

Fool me twice, shame on me!


In December 2017, I made a somewhat daring decision: going to Turkey on a solo trip. While I had travelled solo before, I always had someone at the airport waiting for me. This time, I was on my own. My flight was not direct, and I had a one-hour layover in Dubai. I was still relatively new to international travel, and words like ‘missed connection’ would scare me to the bone. However, the universe had something else planned (thereby giving me content for this article). My flight from Karachi to Dubai got delayed. By the time I reached the airport (2:00 p.m.), the boarding gates for the Istanbul flight (2:20 p.m.) had already closed, leaving me stranded at the airport.

I didn’t freak out – I thought it wasn’t safe for a solo woman traveller to show her vulnerability – and followed the instructions given by the airline staff. Luckily, the airline provided me and the other stranded passengers a hotel stay. The trip from the airport to the hotel was unsettling; I had to email my hotel in Istanbul not to send the driver to the airport and cancel the dinner-on-a-boat booking. Sharing this is important – to describe how tense I was.

Anyway, I looked at my phone.

I had set the clock 20 minutes ahead of the real time – and for those curious to know why I did so, it was because of a psychological trick I used to play with my brain. If I woke up at 10:30 a.m., I would tell myself that it’s actually 10:10 a.m. and that I could stay in bed for the next 10 minutes or so. It did help me though.

Fool me twice, shame on me!

It was 3:40 p.m. I had to be quick or else I’d lose the option to cancel. With all these thoughts, I checked into the hotel and got another surprise: the hotel did not offer free Wi-Fi. I bought a few hours for around AED 60 and went into my room, questioning my life choices.

After I was done with all the cancelling, I called my friend and told her about the mishap. She lived in the same city and offered to take me to dinner. I happily agreed. By the time I reached back, it was 10 p.m. My flight was at 10:20 a.m., and the hotel had asked us to check out at 8 a.m. But they did say that I’d receive a wakeup call at 7:30 a.m.

Now let me tell you a little something about myself: I am a heavy sleeper. The only time I was woken up instantly was when our house was broken into, and a group of robbers had barged into my room and asked me to get up. Otherwise, come what may, this sleeping beauty doesn’t care!

Fool me twice, shame on me!

After a long day of stress and the unexpected reunion with my friend, I was exhausted by the time I reached the hotel and slept, without setting the alarm. Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up to the sound of a previous alarm. The clock showed 5 a.m., and I told myself that I had more than 2 hours left.

After what seemed like half an hour, I woke up to see that the room was lit. Realizing that the sun was out, I quickly checked my phone: 8:20 a.m. – alright, 8 a.m. – the time I had to check out from the hotel. I had to take a quick shower and get dressed, and it was impossible to make it on time. What was more worrying for me was the fact that I couldn’t wake up even after the wakeup call – how deep was my sleep?

Fool me twice, shame on me!

I jumped out of the bed and rushed to the washroom as fast as I could, and had there been any object in my way I would have left a silhouette of myself in it. Once I was done, I searched for the room key, and it hit me: sometime at night, I tried to lower the air conditioner, and when the thermostat didn’t cooperate, I pulled out the room key from the holder and turned off the air conditioner. Now, 30 minutes past my checkout time, I desperately looked for the key. All this while I thought about the extra charges I might be asked to pay for the late checkout.

Finally, I found the card and rushed out of the door. I called the elevator, and when I stepped in, I found that there were quite a few calls. With every ding sound of the elevator, my heart skipped a beat. ‘I should have checked the per-night charge. There go my vacation plans. If they penalize me, I won’t be able to do anything in Istanbul.’ I kept cursing myself for not working on my sleeping habits.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally reached the receptionist. The polite Filipino receptionist greeted me with a smile and said in a sing-song way, “Hello, madam.” But the ‘madam’ was out of breath and could barely say, “check out” with an urgency that confused her. My face had turned completely white, and I was dying to get out and reach the airport. I asked the nice lady about the shuttle that would take me to the airport, and she told me to wait for another 10 minutes. The checkout was done, and she said nothing about the 40 minutes extra I took.

Fool me twice, shame on me!

As I sat down in the lobby, I realized that I still had some internet minutes left. While I mindlessly scrolled, it hit me – my phone clock was not set correctly. Yes, I know, but since it wasn’t set correctly, the clock did not automatically get set to the UAE time, which means, yes, correct, I woke up at 7:10 a.m. and checked out at 7:50 a.m., 10 minutes before the checkout time.

The pain felt sharper when I looked at the hotel’s café’s entrance, people enjoying breakfast. Our hotel stay had the meals included, but in my panic, I left the coupon on the dresser in my room. “Oh, what a fool!” The pain stung again when I had to pay AED 60 (PKR 1,700 then and over PKR 4,500 now) for a coffee and croissant at the airport. This is life!


Almost six years after the incident, I found myself in Dubai again. And this time, my phone automatically showed the UAE time (all good, you think, well, you don’t know me!). This was a work trip. I reached my hotel at around 2:45 p.m. and was free until 6:45 p.m. So, I decided to do some office work. Four hours were enough to get the work done. I multitasked: chatted with my friend and told her about the confusion we had at the airport. Now the work was almost done, and when I checked the laptop’s clock, I almost had a heart attack. It was 5:45 p.m. I usually do not take that long to complete similar work, so it was a little concerning. But then I thought that maybe the travel fatigue made me slower.

I had to get done by 6 p.m. or else I was in big trouble: I had to shower and get my makeup done before heading out for the work event. I completed my task and shut down the laptop. I wanted to lie down for a bit but had no time to waste. I took a quick shower and got dressed. As I was taking out my makeup bag from my suitcase, I heard the ping sound on my phone. While checking the message from my friend, I looked at the clock – 5:15? Something did not make sense. Is my phone acting up? And then it hit me – the phone’s clock was updated, but the laptop’s didn’t! Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!