“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” — These are Paulo Coelho’s words in Alchemist. I do believe in what he says. I have experienced it myself before and very recently again.
On our way to Charleroi airport, as we got on to E40 outside Leuven, an Alfa Romeo overtook us. It immediately caught my attention. One, I am a car enthusiast and I notice cars on the roads. Two, it was an Alfa Romeo. A black 159! I have always found them appealing. There designs are bold. They look sleek and sportive, yet solid. However, I never got a chance to drive one. “Wow, that’s a cool car!”, I remarked.
We reached Charleroi airport in about an hour. We planned to park our car in the airport parking for 5 days until we returned from our trip to Sardinia. Both P1 and P2, the parkings close to the terminal, were full. We parked in P3 which is at some distance from terminal. As we were getting off the car, I saw another Alfa Romeo pulling into the parking right behind us. It was a black Cabrio.
“Man, what’s happening today. We are being followed by Alfa Romeos”, I said. “Anyways, cool car. Would love to drive it”, I told Hari. “Yaa, yaa”, Hari responded. His response was like a married man’s response. Someone who wouldn’t or couldn’t acknowledge other beautiful women around. After all he is now married to his Ford Mondeo whom he is leaving in the parking ;).
After landing at Cagliari airport in Sardinia, Lei and I rushed to the car rental while Hari and Tiannan collected the baggage. We had booked a Renault Megane Sports Tourer at Sixt. I handed the booking printout, my Sixt card and my Miles-n-More card at the counter.
“Sir, we have a problem”, the Sixt staff said after sometime. “What is it?”, I asked. “I can’t find your booking in the system”, he replied. “Probably your booking has been cancelled, since its more than 2 hours past your pick up time”, he said. He was the most unfriendly Sixt staff I had ever met. He simply pleaded helplessness in helping us, without even trying. Calling the Sixt customer care and the office at Brussels also didn’t help. They said that it’s the staff at Cagliari airport who can do something. And this guy was hopeless!
This didn’t look like a great start of our trip. Getting a car was crucial as the entire trip was planned around it. All other known rental companies, like Hertz, Budget, National, Avis, etc were sold out. They didn’t even have a damn Smart!
Left with no other options, we started checking the local rental companies. Atleast, they were not completely sold out. But they had either Fiat Panda or Fiat Punto. “Come on, we don’t get to drive a Punto or Panda on a trip like this”, I lamented and so did others. There was one small counter which we hadn’t checked. Left with no other option, we thought of checking it out before settling on either a Punto or a Panda!
“Hello. We would like to rent a car for 5 days. What do you have?”, I asked at the counter. “I can give a Punto”, the guy replied. “Please no Punto”, I uttered under my breath. “Anything better than Punto”, I asked him. “A moment please. Let me check”, he said. He opened his drawer and started checking the keys. After a while he said, “I have a Alfa Romeo Giulietta. It’s about 100 euros more expensive than Punto. It was returned only sometime back. The inside is clean but outside needs a bit of cleaning”. “I can give you this”, he continued.
The first thing that struck me at this point were the words from Alchemist – “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The universe has been conspiring since morning, dropping us hints.
We loaded our baggage into the car’s trunk and got into the car. I was setting the GPS and checking the controls. “Let’s have some music”, I said. Tiannan was sitting besides me who started looking for AUX input. He couldn’t find one. All of us joined him in the search. We couldn’t find either. Dammit! There was no AUX input in the car!
Although the universe conspired, it didn’t conspire completely. We had to manage with Italian radio and Hari’s ingenious compositions :).