I was flying, high in the sky. This is 2010 and mankind has invented airplanes to make their way through the sky at amazing speeds. Having moved through cities, countries, continents, and a few other airplanes, I started my Turkish Airlines flight from New Delhi and was just about to land in Copenhagen, via the capital of Turkey of course.
It was like a dream; where everything below me outside the window was white. It was a huge uneven blanket of clouds, that seemed to have no end horizontally. It seemed like we were descending into an air of clouds, slowly and gradually, and that was the end of it, vertically. The sun was just about to vanish down in these clouds on one extreme end, so there was still some light. I later realized I was fortunate to see the sun, even though it was in it's dilapidating state for the day. Once we were floating in the clouds, everything was dark. Suddenly, we had some respite; I could see land and lights, laden with snow white. These clouds were really thick, and the sun had no chance of penetrating them, even at it's height.
It seemed like I was literally snatched away from home now and I could have blamed the clouds for that. Suddenly, those last moments while leaving my home city were replaying in my head, while the airplace was taking me down.
"7:30 we shall leave", I said to my father. He nodded, the airport was only 20 minutes from our home. He said, "I will see if our regular automan is there, else we will order a taxi". That was fine. The flight was for 8:40 PM. Even though it was a bit late to leave at 7:30, well it was my country, and how could I miss it.
It was already 7:45 by the time we left home. It kind of became a bit shaky while leaving, last minute checks if I had taken everything and all. While we reached the ground floor, my mother remembered that she forgot my jacket at home. No problem, we still have time, nothing to worry about (yet!).
The auto started and my mind was going through the checklist, crossing every single thing on the way. While the automan made turns here and there on the chaotic Indian roads, I was driving my own way, in my mind. And in the background, my lovely mother was speaking, "Remember to remove the sweets from the bag, and try to finish it in two days, else it would get spoiled". I noticed it and said yes.
Suddenly, from nowhere, I get the first shock. The auto comes to a standstill, boom! Just like that. We stop by on the side (well, sometimes, vehicles in India just stop in the middle of the road!) and with a brief investigation, the automan reveals that the fuel pipe has broken apart, and seems all the fuel has got away (into the air!). Fair enough, let's take another auto and hurry to the airport, "Aall iz Well". I lifted the 30 kg bag from the back of the auto, inserted it into the other one, got seated and off we go.
Withing a few seconds, I was wondering, why is this automan driving so slowly and talking so much. If you peeked into him with one question, he would just not stop answering and jumping on to other topics. Beware! But that was not my concern; my only concern was talking more was resulting him in driving slowly. And he knew we were in a hurry.
He took us into some strange street which we hadn't seen before. The main street was under construction, so we had to divert, through quiet residential areas, on a Monday evening. As we were getting out from those small streets onto the main street, the left turn proved crucial. A couple of traffic policemen were posing in the corner just around their parked bikes, and checking vehicles for their papers. One of them suddenly eyes the automan and there, he just had a connection with him. Vehicle drivers and traffic policemen have a very special relation in India. He asks the man to stop, by waving his hand as an order. Obey the orders, the only option.
"Show me your DL and the auto papers", retorts the policeman.
"Everything is in order sir, believe me!", replied the automan.
"Show them to me, come on".
"Sir, these passengers have to go to the airport, they are in a hurry".
And I and my father plunge in with some words here, "Yes, please, we have to hurry up, I am about to miss my flight".
"So, in that case, leave your DL here and come back and show me the paper's", decides the policeman.
"But sir, ...., okay I will show you the papers".
The automan opens a small drawer and pulls out a plastic covered set of papers, and is keeps it in the policeman's hand. Fine, the policeman just picks one of the most important one's among them, and orders,
"I am keeping this. Drop your passengers quickly to the airport and come back here".
Shocked is the automan as we are, nothing can be done though. The automan tries to convince the policeman but how could that be possible. We take off, again slowly and steadily. It is now 8:08 PM already.
The automan now had a lot of stuff to talk about while driving, he needed a topic as I said. "Why do these guys do like this; I have all the papers, he should have left me; now I will have to go back again; maybe he won't be there at all now, and I will have to go to the police station then; it's a long chakkar
for me...". He never stopped.
What stopped was the auto though, once again. This time, it was a marriage going on in one of the halls alongside the road. And a bunch of people were on the side streets (actually, they were on the street) celebrating their moment. Traffic jams due to marriage celebrations are common in India, and within just seconds, we were stuck in one of them. The third stoppage for us. The automan, though, was still talking about his grudge on the policeman.
Anyway, the airport was just 3 minutes from that place, and we reached finally. Got out of the auto, took the luggage and rushed to enter the airport, when I suddenly remembered, a policeman stands outside the entrance gate as well, checking the tickets before allowing you inside the premises. Whoa! I had the ticket number on my mobile, and this guy isn't a computer!
Anyway, I showed him the number on the mobile, and was expecting to have an argument with him to let me in. He pointed me to some office just around the corner, "Get the printout from there, the Kingfisher office". I rushed, to see a beautiful lady sitting on the other side of the window; she did as I asked her to, gave me the entire ticket printout. Well, she would not do what I want her to, because I will never ask her that! Anyway.
The policeman was happy, my parents bought the ticket which allowed them entry in to the premises, and I was on the way to the check-in counter with a few minutes to take-off. "New Delhi" I said to the lady at check-in counter, and she smiled back and taunted, "The boarding has begun already, sir". I had nothing to say but, "Stupid traffic!". Well, and stupid auto, and stupid automan, and stupid policeman, and stupid marriage, and stupid me (which should be first!).
I got the boarding pass, gave a big hug to my parents from over the small fence, and rushed to the borading gate. I was the last one to enter the bus, which took us the the aircraft. At the end, everything was smooth, well, relatively. As I sat in the ATR aircraft, one of the smallest aircraft's used by Kingfisher in India (they also own A380!), amidst one and only one gorgeous, red from top to bottom, air hostess; and whilst some soft classical music was being played in the background; I could only think, what journey home it was.
I was going up then, and I am coming down now. The landing in Copenhagen was smooth, and the small girl sitting next to me was rejoicing alongside her mother. If only this is my trip back, I have a lot more to say about the trip itself.