We were 3 hours before time at the Airport, it was only a few days ago I arrived and it was already time to go back. It is true when it is said, ‘time flies when you are having fun’ Had a wonderful few days with people who I didn’t know, when I met them for the first time at Dabolim airport, but as it was time to leave back from Sri Lanka, these very same people were like the extended family I would miss when I got back to the reality of life in Goa.
As we got closer to the departure time, on the electronic board was the latest status of our flight
Air-India – DELAYED by 3 hours. In my mind, I thought…wow!! I would get a little more time to spend in Sri Lanka. A little later I thought… Oh no!! This doesn’t sound good, recollecting that we had another connecting flight to catch and will surely miss it from Chennai to Bangalore at 8.00. Having passed the information to all the passengers, strangely everybody was calm. While some seemed sad others just laughed it off…saying “shit happens” (not exactly in the same words). We didn’t have anything more to lose, we had already lost our flight.
We finally boarded our Colombo-Chennai flight at 7.00. Having arrived at Chennai Airport an hour and a half later. We still were some distance away from Goa, our trip was far from over. We still had to get to Bangalore to catch our next flight to Goa which was early next morning. Now having missed our flight to Chennai and subsequently to Bangalore due to the delay, we had to make alternate arrangements to get to Bangalore before 6.30 in the morning the next day. What happened next was well…an adventure to say the least!!
After baggage claim, we had nothing more to do inside the airport…we walked out and what was the beginning of a long wait. It happened to be on the same day that we arrived in Chennai, that India celebrated Pongal, an auspicious festival for the South Indians and importantly a holiday in the state… and yes we know how the people of South India like working on a holiday. Not a single taxi was found waiting outside. The couple of taxi’s that were parked outside seemed disinterested in working on a holiday.
So the situation as it stood that night, at 9.30pm was, 60 passengers stranded at Chennai Airport, with well not many options in front of us. The leaders of the group after a lot of phone calls managed to give us some good news that they managed to get two coaches to drive us to Bangalore from Chennai. It seemed that was the only option, considering the holiday and people not willing to work, it was a relief to hear the good news. At least we had time on our hands, our next flight was only at 6.30 next morning. My watch showed the time as 10pm, going by that we had ample time on our hands even if the bus took 6 hours to reach Bangalore.
The buses were expected to get to the Airport in an hour. I don’t know how the Chennaites define an hour, but the buses arrived only at 1am. The driver assured us that he will reach us to Bangalore in 4 hours, based on that we would reach Bangalore Airport latest by 5 or 5.30am with traffic or stoppages on the way. Sleeping is never an option for me when I am travelling by bus especially and that too with time constraints. While I remained awake, others around me slept. We were in two different coaches, one of them a sitter, the other a sleeper. I chose the sitter, and if what the driver said was true, 4 hours of no sleep wouldn’t really turn my life upside down. As time passed I slowly drifted off to sleep, I woke up what seemed like early morning to me, on checking my watch, the time showed 6.00 and it didn’t seem that we were close to the Airport by a long way. I remembered 6.30 was our departure to Goa via Air Asia Airlines, and it seemed again we would miss our flight! We finally reached Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore at 6.45am. It was 15 minutes before that our flight took off.
Looking on the brighter side of things, at least our timings were getting better, we missed our Chennai – Bangalore flight by 30 minutes, we missed our Bangalore – Goa flight by 15 minutes and surely if we had another flight to catch, we would have caught that one on time.
Now we had 3 options instead of 1 like at Chennai. We could either catch a train, another flight or a bus to Goa. It was the passenger’s choice now, while 52 decided to go by bus, the 8 of us decided to catch a plane back to Goa. I personally wouldn’t have minded the bus, but then Dad was extremely tired after the delays and the waiting and the bus journey from Chennai to Bangalore. We booked the next flight to Goa by Indigo which was only at 5.30 that evening. There were options of Air India and Air Asia Airlines but I thought Indigo was a better choice, and also that I never traveled on board an Indigo flight. So it was decided, we would finally reach Goa by 6.30. While the other 52 left by bus we were waiting at the Airport for our flight in the evening.
By 7.00 we were at Dabolim Airport. What a wonderful trip. Probably one of the best!! Not in the delays but in the company and the feeling of togetherness.
For we may have landed in Sri Lanka with the utmost Luxury unlike St Joesph Vaz who had to go through a shipwreck. As for the 60 of us, we returned to Goa with a little taste of suffering and yet we were filled with the enduring spirit of St. Joseph Vaz.
A trip like never before 🙂