Tales of a Traveller Named Mohammed


Over the past year I’ve had several people tell me that a disproportionate amount of crazy things happen to me. I’ve even had a few people say that the universe puts me in these situations in order for me to write about them so other people can laugh. This week the universe has been pretty kind to me so you will have to make do with chuckling at the misfortunes of my friend Mohammed.

Bear in mind that Mohammed has not travelled too frequently and was unaware of the golden rule of travel, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Thus he embarked on a last-minute journey to the tropical island of Sri Lanka looking for adventure and new experiences.

Working at a bank meant that Mohammed was fully aware that money exchange kiosks often tend to rip you off with a terrible exchange rate. That’s why he decided to travel with limited rupees and get a better rate at an ATM in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan ATM had other ideas and decided to keep Mohammed’s debit card. It was at this moment that Mohammed unlearned even more banking wisdom. Until this point he had seen so many struggle to pay off credit cards and was certain he didn’t want a credit card. Thus when Mohammed narrated his story to me, he was forced to say 3 words I had never heard him say before, ‘I was wrong’.

Mohammed’s lack of funds rapidly turned what was meant to be an adventure holiday into a budget trip. He was forced to spend time bumming around his hotel rather than exploring the places he had come to see. Lucky for him his hotel room and flight home had been prepaid. Well perhaps in his case a prepaid flight was not such a lucky thing.

After paying his taxi fare to return to the airport, Mohammed had exactly 50 rupees (USD 0.38) left. Unable to find the counter to check in for his flydubai flight, he approached the airport staff. That’s when Mohammed learned a very important lesson. 1:55 am is not the same as 1:55 pm. Thinking he had an afternoon flight, he had shown up 12 hours too late.

Thus Mohammed was stranded in a foreign country with almost no money. He learned the hard way that people do not lend money to a guy named Mohammed in an airport. Luckily, his 50 rupees bought him a short phone call to his sister and he managed to spew out the words ‘Emergency! Call me back!’ before the line went dead. Fortunately his sister was able to buy him a (very expensive) ticket back home. While he was waiting for his new flight, Mohammed’s father called him and put him on speakerphone so he could hear his entire family laugh at him.

Upon landing in Dubai, Mohammed mistakenly thought he had left his troubles in Sri Lanka. Wanting at least one good thing to come out of his trip, he decided to apply for an e-gate card (a card that allows Dubai residents to avoid lengthy immigration queues). So he stood in a different lengthy queue. He observed that everybody else in the queue spent just a few seconds looking at the camera. Somehow, when he reached the front of the queue, the immigration official asked him to make several attempts to stare into the camera before finally stamping his passport.

“Okay you can go now”
“Wait, where is my e-gate card?”
“Your name is so common. The system is will think you are someone else”
“Are you telling me that only one Mohammed in all of Dubai has an e-gate card?”
“Even your last name is common”
“Yes but you have my passport number and fingerprints. Surely the other Mohammeds can’t have the same details”
“Next please”

Mohammed went to Sri Lanka looking for adventure and new experiences and learned a very valuable lesson. Be careful what you wish for.