For whatever reason it is, I was quite excited to go on a trip to Bengaluru. It was an official 3-day trip and we four of us were travelling together. Though we were booked separate rooms in the Hotel where we put up, I could not have stayed alone in a room and so came over to stay with Anjali (my colleague then, remember!). We used to chat till late night, discussing everything from our boss at work, our fellow colleagues to her impending marriage that was taking place the week next. I enjoyed touring the Bengaluru city while going out for meetings and remember having only South India food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which of course I would not have in Delhi.
After our purpose of being to Bengaluru was solved, we packed our bags to come back to Delhi. Little did we know then that our 3-day trip is going to be extended to 4 days. We had our flight at 11 in the morning and the new Bengaluru Airport being far away from the city, we checked out early. We were staying at the Koramangala area of the city and it almost takes 2 hours from here during peak hours to reach the airport. As we were preparing to leave, one of our colleagues insisted on having breakfast as he was hungry and told us that delaying by 10-15 mins would not matter much and that we would be on time at the airport. Though reluctant at first we went and ordered for breakfast. The order came little late as there were already many people before us. We hurriedly finished our breakfast and got into the cab.
As anyone aware about Bengaluru’s traffic system would have expected, the roads were all clogged. We were aghast at the sight of traffic everywhere, so much so that at certain traffic signals we had to wait for nearly 10-15 mins. While I and Anjali both kept looking into our watches, the boys seemed less worried and they passed their time listening to music. We even asked the driver to take a different route but he said that it will be same everywhere.
We reached airport at last after struggling with the traffic snarls of the city for nearly two hours. We felt relieved to have reached on time. But we were wrong! We reached 10 minutes after the boarding gate closed.
The airport authorities at the boarding counter refused to let us in as we were pretty late. One of our boys got into a futile argument with the authorities but it could do little help. Instead it made things even worse. As we stood before the counter asking them to let us in, the plane took off and we were left stranded at the airport. The next flight to Delhi was in the morning the next day and the tickets would cost us Rs. 13,000 per head. It was a Saturday and even if I ask my father to transfer some money to my account, it would have taken some time (back then the instant money transfer facility was not common). Unable to bear the pressure of having missed the flight (which I might have never thought of), I was almost in tears.
When things did not work, Anjali got emotional before the authorities by telling them that her marriage is just a week away and she must reach home at any cost. After constant persuasion, the authorities finally gave in and told us that they would be able to adjust the money of our previous tickets and that we would just need to pay Rs 2000 each from our pocket. We could not believe our ears at first, from 13,000 it came down to just 2,000! Without wasting any time we yielded to this arrangement before they changed their mind again. Thanks to Anjali and her constant pursuits, our flight tickets were booked and luckily at a much lower fare that we could have thought of.
We sat at the CCD inside to grab some coffee and sandwich. We still had more than 15 hours in hand before we got into the next flight at 5 in the morning. Having nothing to do, we walked around the airport scanning every single thing inside. Some parts of the airport were still under construction then. When we could think of doing nothing else, I sat down with a book and tried going to sleep. Just then Anjali’s phone rang!
It was her friend in Bengaluru calling her to ask if we had reached Delhi safely. Anjali told her how we could never make it on time and we had to book the next flight in the morning. I could hear Anjali refusing to something but did not know what. When she finally hung up, she said that her friend is calling all of us to her place to spend the night. It was 4.30 in the evening then and none of us were willing to go out of the airport after all that incident. We wanted to wait inside rather. But her friend kept on calling and reminded us that we would be very tired by the time we board the flight if we don’t take rest somewhere. We finally decided to go. The procedure to go out of the airport was again a long one. However, we got out after granted permission and took a cab to her place (I forgot the name of the place now).
We got into a terrible traffic again but soon reached her place. It was dark by the time we reached the place. We longed for a cup of strong tea after the eventful day we had and she made us one. We chatted for a while and then went out for dinner. Amidst all the tension, we forgot to have our lunch and were very hungry. We had an early dinner and came back home.
We all remained awake the whole night and sat chatting. My eyes kept closing in between as I longed for my bed. How I wished we skipped our breakfast and instead headed to the airport, I thought. I would have been in Delhi at that time, sleeping peacefully on my bed. I had also planned to go and watch the move, Immortals the next day with my friends, but i had to cancel everything. But alas!
We booked a cab for 2 in the early morning, which was a bit too early but we did not want to miss the flight again. It was really sweet of our friend for having invited us to her place and we could not have thanked enough for that kind gesture.
When we finally got into our flight, we felt like a big mission getting accomplished. We felt victorious just like the heroes would have felt after winning the battle. But it was a nightmare for all of us and this incident remains etched in our mind till this day. I even used to cringe at the name of Bengaluru then. We learnt a good lesson that day. From then onwards, whenever I have to catch a flight, I make sure that I reach the airport much ahead of time.
However, whenever this topic comes up, we do not forget to thank the authorities, who helped us getting the tickets done at such a cheap rate. But it was also because of Anjali’s marriage that we could find an excuse before the authorities to get the tickets. So thanks to her even for choosing a time as appropriate as this.
-Samrita Baruah / Anjali Sethi Joshi