Let’s hop back a couple of days, shall we? I was in Kakinada to meet with Dr Chandra. Our last meeting ended at 1pm. I had a flight out of Rajahmundy –a small, rural airstrip about an hour from Kakinada– leaving at 3pm and arriving in the major hub of Hyderabad at 4:30pm. From there I had an 8pm flight to Delhi, projected to arrive at 10pm. Then, from Delhi at 2:AM, I would fly to Canada (via Germany and UK).
I could not risk missing that flight out of Delhi. If I did, I would be stuck in India for several more days and would miss my flight (tomorrow) to Guyana. So that’s why I’d engineered a four hour buffer in Delhi. Not a problem, right? Amazingly, I made my flight from Kakinada to Hyderabad and settled in for long, comfortable wait for my 8pm flight, secure in the knowledge that I was in a super high tech, modern airport serviced by many airlines.
So 8pm rolled around and I went to the gate to wait for boarding instructions. I ended that blog post with, “Signing off now. Next time I check in I expect to be on a different continent!” Just as I signed off, there was an announcement: my flight had been delayed… for five hours.
That’s right. Just like that, my four hour buffer had been eaten up.
What transpired next can only be described as a desperate, frantic rush by hundreds of frantic travelers to make alternate arrangements as, it seemed, only one airline —Indigo— had any flights going to Delhi that would arrive on time, and then only barely. First I had to request that my bags be unloaded from the delayed plane. Then I had to request that I escorted out of the boarding area past tight Indian security. Then I had to argue for a refund from Jet Airways, the delayed carrier. (I received 2000 rupees in refund, about $50 Canadian). Then I had to line up and jostle for the honour of buying a flight on the Indigo airplane.
Now, you have to understand how Indian airports operate. You can’t get into the airport without showing a ticket. If you have an e-ticket, you need a print out. For most of us, this means arriving at the airport, going to a special airline window to get your print out, then showing that to security to get in, even before you check in! Like all other airlines, the Indigo desk was servicing both the line up of buyers outside the airport simultaneous with those of us desperately trying to buy seats from inside the airport! See the problem? Slow service and a rapidly dwindling supply of seats. And with each seat sold, the price suspiciously crept upward.
In fact after the third time that the attendant walked to the end her office to announce to us the new price, one person in line wisely shouted, “The price doesn’t matter! We’re going to buy it regardless! So just focus on getting us seats!” Amazingly I got one of the last seats to Delhi, a middle seat squeezed between two splay-legged, snoring, farting middle-aged men. My price? 8000 rupees, or about $180 Canadian.
But it gets better. I checked in with barely minutes to spare, only to discover that…. my bags were 5 kg overweight! Seems those fellows whom I bribed in Kakinada were truthful, after all! Not a problem, I’m all about throwing money at a problem until it goes away. Where do I pay? You guessed it: back at the Indigo sales desk. Yep, another long wait at that awful line, to shell out the equivalent of $10.
Long story short, I made it to Delhi –barely. Got on my series of executive class flights and enjoyed a very long, but luxurious, series of trips back to Canada, via Germany and London. My final carrier was Air Canada. I’d planned on catching up on a lot of work on that flight, since I’d been promised an AC outlet for my laptop. Guess what? Mine was the only AC outlet that didn’t work! So no work was done, and instead I re-watched the same two episodes of Glee over and over. (Yes, I’m now a Glee fan. Get over it.)
So here I am back in Ottawa. I’ve been here for almost two (very hectic) days now and am going to Toronto later today to catch an important flight to Guyana tomorrow. What’s the problem, you ask? Well, it seems my luggage is still in Europe somewhere, and Air Canada won’t give me a straight answer about when (or whether) I can expect to get it.
Perhaps the wisest thing I’ve done in the past year is to put my house keys into my pocket before I boarded the Delhi flight. So at least I have access to my condo, my office and my scooter. But no wallet, no ID beyond my passport, not even any underwear. Yes, I packed all my underwear. I’m writing this, as Bart Simpson would say, with an unfurnished basement.
Happy for the visual?
I may have to cancel my train to Toronto today if my luggage doesn’t arrive in time… or ever. Boo, Air Canada, boo indeed!
Two bright sides: just got a pre-release version of Batman: Under The Red Hood. Gonna watch it now, bitches. And drink. The other bright side? My rooftop vegetable garden has yielded its first product! A cucumber! I’m a farmer! Yayyy!