Sunday, August 12, 2012

Westward Bound: The Jodhpur Diary

Wednesday, 8th Aug

It was 6.oo a.m and I had managed to catch a few hours of sleep. I am always jumpy and nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, the night before I have to travel could be anywhere, even a three hour train journey!

I looked out of the window and groaned. The skies were overcast: dark, ominous clouds hung heavy with their burden. No, no not now. Not when I have to leave....a downpour was the last thing I wanted to happen.

The airport is a forty-five minute drive from my home, if I don't get stuck in long car queues at traffic lights and the toll gates. I had a 10.15 am flight to catch. As a person with special requirements (read assistance) I couldn't check-in online and that meant I had to allow for check-in time too. I had asked my nephew, V, to accompany me so I would not have any problems with my 'special' assistance! Later I would be more than glad that he came along.

I was ready, baggage weighed, locked and ready at the door. I made a last minute check on the to-do list stuck on my notice board....yes, everything done and now where was the cab?

Right on cue, my phone rang; the cab had arrived. The baggage went down, I went down and everything went into the car. Now it was time to ring V. No more call.....two more calls later, I discovered he'd fallen asleep. Who wouldn't after a long night's work followed by a long drive back home!! I was grateful he had agreed to come with me. A short wait and he was in the cab and we were airport bound. I checked the time.....we were good with about fifteen minutes to spare above the forty-five minute time frame for check-in. I relaxed.

Just as I was beginning to enjoy the drive I heard a sound and saw the driver's left foot frantically stepping on a limp clutch....a school bus was honking on our tail. My heart sank. The clutch cable had snapped. We rolled to a halt and I whispered....a stage whisper mind you....."I'm going to miss my flight."

"No, no, we'll make some arrangements," said V very confidently.

That's one of the reasons I wanted him to come along. He's resourceful! I settled down with a deceptively calm exterior and waited, while the cabbie called for another vehicle. V was making some calls of his own.....a vehicle would come eventually, but would it be in time? But V was still sure I'd be on that plane and I believed him. I am sure I would have had a coronary something, if he hadn't been there!

Another cab arrived just when nephew dear decided to use his arrangements. Transfer of baggage, and we were airport bound. I looked up and saw the driver looking at me in the mirror.

"Don't worry ma'am," he said, "I won't let the flight go without you."

Tall claim, but I knew what he meant! A quick look at my watch and I knew we'd cut it very fine, but I'd get on that flight. A consolation short-lived. I was on a diurectic, and it kicked in just then....I had to go and I had to go right now....major emergency! We were approaching a traffic light and there were a whole lot of vehicles already there and more coming behind us. The driver made a snap decision and took a left turn into a slip road. I knew what he was doing. He knew English and had obviously understood my condition and urgent requirement. A right turn brought us to Ramada and the necessary facilities.

My nephew and I walked in and while he engaged the receptionists with queries, I located the washroom. Time was running out! Still we walked out laughing with our own discoveries. The nephew was thrilled with the brunch/breakfast tariffs and I was happy with the maintenance of the washrooms. Silly things to rejoice about at that time it would seem! We looked for the cab, it wasn't where we left it. A quick search and phone call and we were on our way again. There was very little time left now. We had lost the fifteen minutes of extra time. I was seriously on my knees again. Please Jesus we don't need a rush at the toll plaza, no traffic snarls and I would like to be on that flight. It was all answered.

We got to a lane with few cars at the Toll, and traffic was light. I made it to the check-in counter just as it was closing. If I wasn't one of the special requirements person (read wheelchair required) the lady behind the counter wouldn't have been so accommodating and pleasant.

Now began my long wait for a delayed flight. A half hour delay was quickly followed by huge relief on boarding. The tiny craft was packed and I felt like a sardine. We must have been air-borne for a quarter of an hour before we hit bad weather. It's horrible to be seated in the tail section when there's turbulence...worse when you're in a small plane, which I was in, and it's added drama when the buffeting brings on loud creaking sounds....

The Captain announced our arrival at Jodhpur and before I could even complete my long sigh of relief, he announced that landing would be delayed due to some Air Force exercise or something (my hearing was impaired by then) we circled the Jodhpur sky which was heavy with dark clouds and quite windy. But eventually we did land and I was able to complete my long sigh of relief!

I had made it and I sent my Big Friend a 'thank you' note and Amen!

PS: It rained heavily AFTER we took off from Delhi. It rained continuously AFTER I reached my destination in Jodhpur. What more can one ask for.....except hot pakoras, gulgullas and ginger tea!!


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