This will be my last travel story until I decide to travel again. I promise.
So, this is about the time when I chose a sarkari airline over the rest. I bit the extra baggage allowance bait and suffered like never before. Here’s how.
Once burnt, twice shy? Not me. The dutiful husband dropped me off at the airport saying, “Chill Kar! 2 ghante delay to hogi hi”. After a quick peck and an eye roll, I marched inside. The wait at the airport was an eventful one, like it always had been.
A security person ran to me for help as he saw me struggling with a giant trunk-like suitcase, another asked me if I was a doctor with the armed forces (I wonder why). I asked him why he was so keen on knowing. Another dude flying to Muscat tried to take a picture/video of me while I shooed him away.
Things were a lot out of hand this time.
I was exhausted even before I could go through security. Assuming I’d have some respite after all the necessary security checks, I held on to my patience. I was now waiting. The flight was delayed by two hours, then by another hour, and then another.
As hours passed by, I saw a storm rise and subside (both outside and inside me), flights land and take off, people come and go, children chatter and cry, girls telling their current boyfriends/girlfriends what they ate, newly wed groups playing digital ludo completely oblivious to the fact that they had delayed a flight and were being hunted for by the airline crew.
I went and bought myself some water as the drama unfolded. We waited some more. A fellow passenger tried to track down the location of our flight on some radar thing. I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t care to ask.
Now, here’s a piece of information. The place I was flying from doesn’t allow flights to take off or land after 5/5.30 pm (not sure of the time) for security reasons. The airport pretty much shuts down. It was 4.30 already and I was hearing murmurs of a cancellation.
The sarkari airline people were nowhere to be seen and hassled passengers were looking for someone to scream at. I was beginning to wonder if this airport had suddenly upgraded to a silent airport.
The announcement finally came through, “All sarkari airline passengers please collect your checked in baggages from belt number 4 and report to the help desk”. By the time, I got to the help desk people were already screaming at the airline crew, people were explaining geography, distance, time, strange algorithms, and other things which wouldn’t have brought back a plane that had flown over our heads and refused to land. It wasn’t like missing a school bus that could be chased.
I sat in a place just close enough to hear the instructions and far enough to avoid fist fights. Once the questions and the answers started getting redundant, I glided my way to the airline crew and asked her what she could do to make my life less miserable. She took my details, gave me her personal number and told me my boarding pass would be ready to be collected the next day at a fairly decent hour.
I was asked if I needed accommodation. I opted for a drop home instead, which was again refused, “Madam, army cantt. k aage nahi jayegi car”.
This was like a flashback moment where all Ubers and Olas had denied me service back in the city.
I called the husband who first laughed and then promised to be there in thirty minutes. The passengers had left. The airport was full of men in uniform. An airline crew came up to me, “Madam, you are not allowed to wait here. Please go outside.”
“Are you allowed to cancel a flight!?” I asked.
I saw four security people rushing towards me. I knew I was being thrown out.
“Madam, aap idhar wait karlo”, the God sent Mr. Singh took me away. He asked me where I was from and who was picking me up. He was kind enough to offer me tea and aquaint me to a secret way out in case I got locked in while he was away.
Meanwhile, I got pity glances from every single airport staff leaving for the day. “Madam, ghar kaise jaoge!?”, “Madam, koi pick karne aa rahe hai?”, ” Madam, aapko drop nahi Kiya?”
I resorted to my good ol’, ” Hanji! Hanji!”
It reminded me of the this one time in school when our father forgot to pick us up and our dadi rushed to rescue us.
Mr. Singh waited until the husband showed up, which was after a hour and a half. He saw me off to the car and the husband and I couldn’t thank him enough for his kind gesture.
Here’s the thing about my travel episodes, they drain me each time but they end well. Of course, sometimes they leave me bruised but they are fond experiences safely tucked away. I’ve met people who I’d love to meet again and I’ve seen people who I’d like to be jailed in Muscat.