9 Dec 2005

flight plan...

A friend was traveling from Bangalore to Bhubaneshwar. Balancing time and financial constraints, she chose to fly Deccan Air - the afternoon flight from Bangalore to Kolkata and the evening flight from Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar.
That was the plan…

The Deccan Air flight took-off from Bangalore about 6-hours behind schedule and reached Kolkata around midnight. She, of course, missed the connecting flight to BBSR. True to our great national heritage of customer service, Deccan Air failed (refused ?!) to provide her any accommodation for the night.
So here was my friend, calling from the DumDum airport terminal around 1-o’clock at night, taking directions - from me in Pune - to travel from the airport to the Howrah railway station. During the serendipitous 6-hour break in Bangalore, she had the good sense to buy a train ticket (the Indian Railways, time tested…) to travel to BBSR on the Falaknama Express, seven in the morning.

She spent the night on the couches of the swanky Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International airport (quite a mouthful that…) - drinking coffee, chatting-up passengers awaiting early-morning flights, occasionally napping, calling friends on the mobile, surfing the Net from a internet kiosk. In short, living life to the hilt !

i again took a call around 6.00 in the morning. Two gallant ladies riding a cab from DumDum to Howrah. Amazed at all the activities on the streets as the city stirred itself awake (Bangalore is largely deserted that early in the day). Trucks emptying their loads of fresh vegetables, people bathing from overflowing taps by the roadside, clusters around chai-shops, delivery boys sorting newspaper on the footpath, people in mufflers hurrying on their way…

She marvelled at all the heritage (derelict ?) buildings en-route and kept up a constant commentary, reading interesting street names off shop-signboards. Confirming that the driver was taking the correct route. As they crossed the marvellous Howrah bridge, i suggested that she had time enough to take a quick holy dip in the Hooghly, to wash away some of her traveling travails.

She, of course, refused. Citing the inability of her delicate constitution being able to cope-up with the cough, cold and fever that could follow. She could end up being unable to write her final-semester exams the following day !

i wonder if she’s read The Great Railway Bazaar.
Serves her, for choosing Dhakkan Air, right ?

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