Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shelter for Stranded Travelers: One Family's Story

DUGNY (France), April 19: Four years after travelling to study in Europe and five days after setting off on their long-awaited return home, a Pakistani family is marooned by volcanic ash in a gym outside Paris.

Bedded down in a temporary shelter with their 10-year-old son and down to their last few euros, Syed Asif Ali Shah and his wife Wajiha are putting a brave face on the frustrating final stages of their long journey.

“We were certain that we were going back home and we spent our cash,” said 41-year-old Shah. “My wife has 45 euros and I have 15 euros.”

Although an exhausted Wajiha feels frustrated at not being able to return to her family, which she hasn’t seen in three years, the couple is still able to narrate their odyssey with a hint of amusement.

After spending over four years in Vienna, earning telecommunications doctorates, the couple is preparing to return home. “Now we have to do our duty and go back to Pakistan to teach,” Wajiha said.

But before leaving they wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland. They arrived in Paris on the 14th and were meant to catch a flight to Karachi two days later, after a stopover in Bahrain.

Their flight on the 16th was cancelled because of the cloud of volcanic ash that has paralysed flights all over Europe.—AFP

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