As I sit at Ahmedabad airport waiting for my flight boarding to begin, I only mildly remember of the chaos that happened yesterday; it seems so far away, when actually it’s just a 10hrs old story. What’s a trip without an adventure, anyway?
Well, calling it an adventure would be a cruel insult to the whole act. To speak the truth, I’m thankful we’re alive right now.
Even though I realized just on reaching Surat station that I didn’t have a photo ID proof, I stayed cool, snapped my fingers because I had had a brilliant idea. I’d tell my parents to bring my PAN card since my train was to pass their home. Alas. My father was extremely upset about it and mother, disturbed. As it is they aren’t happy about me going alone to Europe and only look for opportunities to highlight how irresponsible I am. Rains and traffic prevented them from reaching the station on time. I was sure we would manage something. I still had my passport copy in my mail.
The train journey ended really slow and late with the train stopping several times before the station. We stood at the door for approx 20 min (counting the diamonds in one guy’s ring – approx 60. Or more). It was raining when we got off. Little did we know that there were worse things were awaiting us.
We got an auto after lot of bargaining. The auto guy, who reminded me of actor Pran, disclosed, when his auto broke down in middle of a heavy traffic road, that the clutch wire of the auto had broken. There we were, stuffed into the auto with 2 heavy suitcases and 2 backpacks at 10 pm and he’s hunting for a garage. He obviously couldn’t find one. So there was only one way. He pushed the auto and when it caught speed, jumped into it and started the engine. That was the only way he could get the auto running – by not letting it stop. And was it possible on the road? No. But he still did it. We got squashed between buses. We went off the road. We almost killed people. He shouted at people on the way. He drove on the opposite side of the road and came bumper to bumper with oncoming traffic. It was as good as travelling in a vehicle without brakes. I don’t remember breathing throughout the way. Nor do I think my heart beat. I do have a fear of driving in the dark. I keep visualizing ditches and boulders and animals and humans coming out of nowhere onto the middle of the road. And this journey only strengthened the fear.
I was willing to do anything to get out of that vehicle. I was so furious with the Pran look alike. He has no right to fool around with people’s lives!! Can’t he be honest and not take passengers for that last bit of earning for the day just because his vehicle is defective?
Tired, exhausted and hungry, we reached our destination and stopped over at McD for food. And there we are faced with another hurdle – my photo ID. The absence of it, rather. E’s dad reacted worse than my Dad did. He got all worried and hyper and angry about my silly act. Since her parents are just other forms of my own, I know what’s in store for me when I meet them.
We call almost everyone we know to know what could be done about the photo ID thing. I saw my whole Calcutta trip plan crashing in front of me but an old but valid Central Railway ID card, which I have kept in my wallet since 2005 for memory, along with my last Bombay local train pass, showed a ray of hope.
And it did. It worked at the airport. I shared this with my parents but I’m sure that still didn’t make them happy. Of course, he had offered his help in terms of coming to Ahmedabad to pick me up in case I’m not allowed on the plane.
Hopeful and excited again, despite the rains and early hours, we got ready on time and leave for the airport. All through the way, E showed me landmarks and views outside. Ahmedabad looked lovely even in the rains at 6:30 in morning and I liked the city already.
The airport wait has been quite uneventful except the great chutney served with khandvi (we are gujjus at heart), the exorbitant rates at Subway and the Japanese (E’s colleagues) we met at the airport.
I am delighted to get a window seat in the airplane and that too not above the wing. Yippie! I love looking out of the plane window and my face is normally in the window as I am looking out. So I do exactly that.
E has slept (she wanted to avoiud talking to the man sitting next to her in the aisle seat. He looks like a terrorist, accordingly to her, and was asking her too many questions, which she lied to. I overheard him telling E that he wanted his daughter to become a plumber), I have skimmed through the book I am carrying. The outside sphere is very bright and the window cant be kept open. So, I stare at airhostesses and look around in general.
Finally, we are about to reach Calcutta. Calcutta! Finally! After waiting for, like, 3 months.