It was 7.45pm. Bangalore was getting washed in the heavy rain. Moreover, nature was also busy playing tricks with the clouds above the airport. The Strong winds and thunderous lightning were the chief entertainers that night. But as the bus came to a halt beside the plane, nobody wanted to come out of the cosy vehicle. All knew that they would get drenched in a second outside. But what choice did we have? One by one everyone started boarding the flight. When my turn came, I quickly jumped out of the bus and ran towards it. My specks and hair got maximum of the rain water. But I felt instantly comfortable once I reached my seat. It was just behind an emergency exit window.
The scheduled departure was at 8.15pm. But due to bad weather conditions, without any announcement, it was crystal clear that the flight will be delayed. I opened my bag and took out Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. I started reading it while some passengers had still not settled. A few around me were making room for their cabin luggage in the racks and some others were calling air-hostesses. Almost everyone had the same question to ask them-when will the flight take off.
“We haven’t got the clearance yet” an air-hostess announced.
Some started grumbling loudly at the inconvenience. Meanwhile another air-hostess came towards the seats after mine.
“As you are sitting next to the emergency exit window, I would like to brief you up about some instructions” she said rapidly in a clear voice just like a news anchor announcing some breaking news.
“Huh?” a women replied helplessly while trying to hold on to her struggling baby at the same time.
“In times of any emergency, are you willing to help us?” the air-hostess asked again.
What could the passengers do? They nodded and looked at her while she demonstrated how to open the window during an emergency.
After she left, a man turned towards his neighbour with disbelief eyes.
“Take-off kiya nahi aur emergency ki baat kar rahe hain.....” he grumbled.
It was 8.30pm now. Still no hopes of take-off seemed near. The rain continued to play its tricks outside. The whole run-way had gotten drenched by that time. Suddenly an official boarded the flight and started counting the passengers. Following him, another air-hostess started counting too. That was quite hilarious. Later we came to know that it seemed to them that extra passengers had boarded the flight. And hence there was no clearance and that’s why the delay.
That was unbelievable! How was that possible, I couldn‘t understand. After so much checking and security, how come extra passengers could be there in the flight? This thought reminded me of Home Alone-Lost in New York. In the movie, the kid had boarded the wrong flight and ended up in New York.
Suddenly a woman started talking on her cell-phone very loudly. Passengers in the last seats as well could hear her too. And that was saying something as she was sitting near the front seats. She was giving instructions to her junior for the last 10 minutes as to how to speak to a client. And then she instructed that junior to repeat again whatever she had said so far. That was it. I could not take it any longer. I went back to my novel. The starting itself was quite interesting. The story had just captured my attention when the captain announced to put on the seat belt and be ready for the take-off. The lights were dimmed after a while. I switched on the reading light. Outside the window, I could still see thundering clouds roaring loudly in the night sky. The flight started to move, first slowly and then picked up speed. It zoomed past the city and went up still till I could no longer see the city lights. A time came when I could look out from the window and see the thundering clouds below us! What a wonderful sight it was! I wished I had my camera with me to capture the moment.
When we were at a safe height, meal was announced. Two air-hostesses pushed the food trolley. That time the meal consisted of Jeera rice, Dal, Mutter Paneer and Methi roti. I ordered none. Call it a coincidence but I was going to eat Mutter Paneer at home! The only question was when the flight will reach Delhi. The time was passing slowly. I started feeling sleepy but didn’t want to close my eyes. The darkness outside was cut off by the bright city lights of Delhi at 11pm. We landed around 11.15pm. But see our fate; we had landed at the international runway! Till our flight reached slowly to the domestic one, 10 minutes more had gone. The only entertainment left was to see the various flights stationed outside in an ordered manner. I saw a lot of different planes standing at one side. Some had their engines open. There was a British Airways and another foreign one that I couldn’t see properly in the semi-darkness. Now I was slightly feeling hungrier. By the time I finally checked out after taking my luggage, it was close to 11.45pm. The familiar Delhi breeze was most welcoming. Finally I was home. The journey had ended.....or had it just begun?!!