Should I laugh or should I cry?
Ever heard of “expect the unexpected?” and said to self “ha ha it would be fun!!”
Well I have!
Excited to start my first official journey while keeping pace with the personal agenda, I wake up at 03:00 hours in the morning. A quick shower, second-check at my baggage and I am all set to board the cab at 04:30 a.m., that would ferry me to Chatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai. I am supposed to board the flight to Bangalore scheduled at 6:30 a.m. I reach the airport at 05:15 a.m. and stroll to the boarding pass vending counter.
The First Patience-Test Moment
A lady of 5’3″ approximately, standing behind the counter greets me with a smile. I tuck my phone to her with the governmental identity proof.
She: “I am sorry Sir, all the passengers have reported, hence, the counter is closed to issue you a seat, I shall give you the boarding pass without the seat number. You must come back at 05:50 to get your seat number.”
Me: (Perplexed and trying to understand) “What does it mean? I had booked my ticket yesterday morning and I am 1 hour 15 minutes before the scheduled departure.”
She raises her brow, sighs, “you shall receive your seat number at 05:50 Sir, you have to wait till then”
At 05:50 a.m.
Me: Check the status now.
She: Amm.. Sir.. I am.. Mam can you please call… the baggage wait is 79kg excess.. Mam but..
Me: Can you please check for my seat first? I need to leave.
(standing next to me lady1, lady2 talk, shout, create chaos)
He: (at 06:00 a.m.) Sir, we are sorry but the flight is full. We will have to shift you to the next flight.
Me: What??? But why? I had booked in advance. I was here well before time. You can’t do this. Check. Check.
He: (pretends) Sir, we are over-booked and all the passengers have reported.
She: (stares like a cat)
Me: So have I. Why am I not allotted a seat?
He: Sir, the other passengers have checked-in online.
Look I can’t miss my flight. I have my day scheduled. I am not missing this flight. I need to go. It is her fault, it is your fault. You can’t overbook. So the preference is for online boarding and the people coming to the counter are mad then? Remove an air-hostess or a steward, give me their seat, I need to go.
He: Sir, we are sorry. We allot you a seat in the next flight scheduled for departure at 08:55 a.m.
I call up the K.P.N. travels in Bangalore and re-schedule the bus for Salem from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The lady on call confirms the loss of money due to re-scheduling. I spend another 2:30 hours strolling, reading news, people watching and sipping a cup of extremely sweet hot-chocolate.
At 08:45 a.m. I sense that the queue I have been looking at for boarding is still longer than before. An air-hostess rushes in the crowd shouting “Any passengers for the Bengaluru flight?” . I look at her and realize the queue I had been looking at was actually of Ahemadabad flight. I rush to the counter. He stamps my boarding pass.
I ask: “how am I supposed to go? Is this the bus? (pointing at the bus)”
I ask again: “How do I reach the flight for Bengaluru, I am the only passenger left. Is this the bus?”
He nods again.
I rush and board the bus. I look around, in another 2 minutes more people board. My intuition shouts, “this is not the bus. Why are so many people boarding at the last minute?”
We reach the aircraft, I am the last one in the queue at the rear boarding.
He tears the boarding pass as taught, blinks and shouts,
Sir ye galat flight hai (this is the wrong flight)
He calls his colleague, they talk, no hope on their face. I request. They panic.
From nowhere, a goods-carrier auto-rickshaw appears. He talks to them, they disagree. We request.
Time is 08:50 a.m.
Three of us, the driver, the assistant and me, take a U-turn and at the maximum speed drive to the aircraft. While we are in its visibility, we see a couple of ground-staff, air-hostess and stewards look in all directions for the only passenger who almost boarded the wrong flight.
We shout waving our hands – Roko, roko, roko (Stop, stop,stop)
At 11:00 a.m. the cab chauffeur tells me “Yes Sir, we will reach the bus pick-up point before 12:30 p.m”. It’s a race. My brother guiding the chauffeur on call to take the roads that are not clogged with traffic. At 11:45 hope dies. The chauffeur shook his hands high. He cries “Sir, you can take some auto-rickshaw or anything you like but we can’t reach your destination by 12:30 p.m.” Race against time. My Bro leaves his work, steps on to the roads to set our path. My Bro orders me to give him one of my bags so that I can travel care-free in Salem. Tension builds in the air all over Bangalore. If I miss the bus, I’ll miss reaching Salem on time which means I won’t make it to my friend’s wedding reception, which in-turn means the amount of money, time and energy spent will go on tasting dust on roads.
Heart in my mouth
At 12:15 p.m. I meet my Bro, from the window we exchanged bags. I give him my lappie, he gives me mango shake and a pack of cookies and fully charged power-bank. The chauffeur hard at the wheel, the roads might smell the burning rubber, we did embark our way to the bus stop dot at 12:30 p.m., I sign the paper, cross the road, board the bus, sip the mango shake.
TWIST OF THE DAY
Too tired with the race and drama. I need rest. My body gives up. The mango shake is filling. I feel like having more of it. The cookies, I stack them for later. My neighbor sets to watch a movie. I smile at him for the familiarity of the race he belongs to. I feel the new belonging.
Anne, I have boarded the bus, all good here. The bag I gave you has my wallet and cards. I have no money!
Panic. Panic. Panic. My Bro calls his friend asking him to pick me up from Salem bus-stand. We exchange a couple of calls. Finally, it is decided that my friend, who’s wedding I am heading to, will hand me some cash. My Bro shall transfer some money to his account later. An embarrassing moment ends. I sit back with my mask on. I relax.
God! No more twists please!!
Scheduled time to reach Salem is 04:30 p.m. At 01:30 p.m. we cross Hosur bus-stand. Therefore, we are on time. Laughing at myself, I sleep. The ride in this AC Volvo bus is pleasant. I am happy that I shall go to my hometown after 3 years. Too many memories in Bangalore that hold my mind in the frame of every beautiful moment spent here. As we speed, the frames rapidly appear. The conductor of the bus yells half an hour for lunch. My Bro – My Saviour, I munch the cookies. Arousing aroma of delicious crispy Dosas from South-India’s famous Adayar Anand Bhavan restaurant, puts me in a self-pity mode. I can’t eat my favorite food of my land. I walk around. It’s 03:00 p.m. I am happy. Another hour and a half, I shall see my home, my friends, my soil. I check maps to find where exactly we are, as this restaurant seems a new one.
To my dismay, WE ARE STILL AT HOSUR.
A distance of 90km should have been covered by now and we are still at the 40th.
How much more will I have to wait? I am hungry. I want to go. I am sleepy. I need to wash myself. I am tired.
I laugh at myself. I indulge myself in the greenery around. Click pictures.
At 03:30 p.m. we board the bus. Ah! Alas! We are set to go. I am going home. I’ll manage my hunger pangs. Will go to my friend’s wedding venue and hog. Literally hog. Eye-mask on the eyes. Neck cushion on my nape. Woohoo!!!!
“Yenna aachu anne (What happened Bro)??” I probe worried. Bus hasn’t moved for 10 minutes now.
“Gear-box fail” he shudders.
To be continued….. [PS A list of friends to thank – in the next part…. ]