The basic concept of “Tomorrow” is that it starts after midnight. When I walked into the Mumbai InternationalAirport at 9:30 PM on 1st January, the indicator said the flight to Vienna was scheduled for “tomorrow”. I need not worry because my ticket said the flight was scheduled for 00:50 hrs. That is 12:50 AM. So technically it was tomorrow. Finding my way, I stood in the line for the check-in. It was then while talking to my fellow passengers; I realized that the flight actually was delayed to tomorrow, almost 12 hours after the actual scheduled time.
Now I was in a fix. No way, I was going to wait at the airport. The queue was becoming bigger and bigger and the interesting thing was that not many passengers knew about the delay. They assumed that the flight was on time. Now it was going back home and coming back in the morning.
Fortunately, I started talking with passengers and one boy “O” who was on his way to London turn out to live not far away from my house. As my folk had already left with the belief that I was on my way to Europe, the other alternative was to take a taxi. We got the information we needed to fly the next day and O and his brother dropped me to my house. It was one more day in India, or lets say some more hours in India. The next day the flight was scheduled for 1:00 PM but the check-in was supposed to start 4 hours before. By morning the time was advanced to 12:15 PM which meant I had to leave early for the airport. I reached there on time to find out that there was a small line and O standing behind me.
Then came the next shocker. The laptop was suddenly the part of luggage. Laptops were never considered a part of the luggage and one laptop per person was allowed. The new rule meant that I had to adjust or throw or give my extra luggage. Me and my luggage problem are becoming the norm in my traveling stories. Again O and his brother came to my rescue as I removed my extra luggage and gave it to O’s brother.
The list included my jeans, some clothes, a frying pan for Vijay and some snacks. With a lot of weight loss, I was ready for the journey to Vienna. Again my connecting flight to Amsterdam was not confirmed. It was turning out to be an eventful flight.
Thankfully, the rest of the flight to Vienna went without any problem. The nightmare started again when we landed in Vienna. The ground staffs were ready at the exit with placards of different destination we needed to transit. As soon as the passengers from different destination gathered under the placard, the ground staff decided it was time for the great race. We were made to run around the airport following the “Amsterdam” printed on a small A4 size paper.
Vienna has a big international airport and running around dragging a heavy luggage can be quite tiring. I was sweating and almost running walking behind the lady clutching my passport, ticket and boarding pass. I failed to understand when my flight was still 2 hours off, why was I made to run?
When we reached the destination, the flight timing said 5:20 PM but it was not my flight. So the question again, why was I running? Well not the ground staff’s fault too. She was just trying to get us all to Amsterdam in one go. However the flight was full and there was no choice but to go back all the way we came and then to another floor for the 7:45 PM flight. When I reached the counter for the 7:45 PM flight, I was still kept on stand-by. My tickets were not confirmed. In addition the flight was delayed by 40-45 minutes.
The next flight was the next morning. I was already a day late and wasting another day was clearly not a good choice for the New Year. Finally when the passenger started boarding, the ground staff gave me the good news that I would get to fly that evening. I was surprised when they upgraded me to Business class. The lady told me “You have been waiting a lot today, so we are sending you Business class”.
Business class! I mean wow! Something good happening at the end of the journeyI have to say that even in a short flight of 90 minutes, business class passengers are a pampered lot. This was the first time that I was flying Business class and to admit that I felt good. After 90 minutes of luxury flight, I finally landed in Amsterdam.
Sheena and Pranav had come to pick me up. It was nice to see her after so many days and it was nice to know that she had stayed awake just to meet me. It had taken me more than 20 hours to reach Amsterdam, a journey which should not take more than 11 hours including the security checks.
I came out of the Schipol airport and the first thing you smell is the Amsterdam air. Every city has its own distinct smell. I should rephrase it as every city air has it own distinct smell. Its not like some cities stink or otherwise but you recognize the city with its smell. I remember the first time 2 years back when I came out of the airport first and had smelled the air.
The smell took me two years back to the same moment when I first set foot here. The first time I set foot in the office here when the smell of coffee beans hit my nose. During that time, I was new and confused where life was taking me. This time I knew the city. It had been my home for two years. I was familiar with the roads and the air. It was like coming back home!
At the end of the journey, after meeting everybody here, the 20 hours were worth it, worth every minute.