After my popular post called To Catch a Bus, more friends seem to want to see their stories published. So they are now calling me and narrating their ‘similar’ story. Here is one such.
Three friends who work together had to travel to the sunny shores of California recently on some project work. Let us called them R, J, and P. Since all three of them get along very well, this trip was all set to be a super fun trip!
I called R, and asked her excitedly about all the places they saw and fun they had since they had two whole weekends there. She sounded vague and could not seem to remember much of what she had seen. I gushed about THE Golden Gate bridge, and she said uh-huh. I gushed about Ghirardelli, and she mentioned that they had been to some Pier something. Then she mumbled something about a long drive, and again I gushed about the Lone Cypress and the beaches and so on. See, I am a huge fan of the Bay area. The hubby jokes that I might relocate there in a blink, and he may not be far from the truth. And on the other end of the phone was R, who went there for the first time, and sounded as if none of it mattered. Something was amiss.
A little digging revealed the reason for this level of amnesia. She said that the return journey had obliterated everything that happened during the whole trip. So what happened?
The trio had a good trip, many places were seen, many meetings were attended, much food was eaten, and they were all set to board the flight back to Bangalore. They reached the airport on time, and were all set to board their flight. The flight was delayed by about half an hour. No big deal. They hung about, chatted, and boarded the flight. And then the flight taxied around and dithered for another half an hour. Hmm, no sweat they thought. And then the plane took off and all was well.
They had to catch a connecting flight at Brownie airport. They landed at Brownie airport, and then their woes began. They had missed the connecting flight. Again, not a big deal right? Such things have been known to happen. It wasn’t their fault, and the airline had to take care of them. Also, they were in an exciting city, and the prospect of getting a transit visa to quickly get an eyeful of the pleasures of this famous city made them stay positive, hyper even!
But alas! Fate had other plans, or at least the lady at the counter did. She sternly told them that they cannot be floating about unnecessarily without a proper visa, and booked them on a flight to DoBuy. Now DoBuy is obviously not Bangalore. They had been routed to yet another country, and they had to catch another flight from there.
All this may have still been ok with the trio, except that they noticed that another lady ahead of them in the queue was politely given a direct flight, and executive lounge access. Hmm! While R was reporting this, she sounded really miffed at the unfairness of it all. In my head I was thinking, ‘One look at you guys, and she knew you were trouble’, but I wisely decided to hold my tongue.
Still, being the upbeat and positive lot that they are, they took it in their stride, ran the length and breadth of the huge Brownie airport and boarded their flight to DoBuy. Now, DoBuy is really close to Bangalore. Just a 3.5 hr flight. So with happy thoughts about being able to flop on their own beds in their own homes shortly, they sat back and enjoyed the flight.
The food on board was eaten, various beverages were drunk, and the pilot announced that they were about to touch down. Yay! R peeps out of the window, and suddenly her mind goes, ‘Now wait a minute right there!!! Why the heck is it so dark outside?’. Neither P nor J know the answer. No one has bothered to set their watches to the local time. So they are, er, in the dark.
They troop out of the plane, still wondering about the time, and try to find their next flight. And…it takes them a while to find information about the next flight. And…that’s when they realize the colossal problem they have walked into. Due to various circumstances, and the lady in Brownie airport who didn’t like them, their next flight is a bloody 9 hours later!!!!
Oh, and by the way, in all this melee, they have also been passed on like foster kids to different airlines. When they walk up to the Emerald Airline counter for their trip to Bangalore, the counter guy tells them that they are waaaay too early for their flight. What’s more, he tells them calmly that they are currently not Emerald Airlines’ problem since the flight is not even listed yet!! They go to the previous airline which is ALM Airline and the counter guy tells them that they have de-planed and hence they are no longer his problem.
Caught in the middle like Trishanku, with no option to even get a transit visa to see DoBuy (it is the dead of the night out there), the trio decide to explore the airport and then drown their sorrows with copious amounts of coffee.
In a short while, the airport exploration is done, and several gallons of coffee have been had. The three good friends who looked forward to the trip merely a week ago, now have run out of stuff to talk about, and are just a small distance away from tearing out each others’ hair. Of course, P had it good. He kept escaping intermittently to watering holes in the bleak desert. Trust him to find an oasis in such arid places as airports.
After what seems like ages, a rather happy P again suggests a coffee, and R gets up to go to the one coffee place that has been open all night. The guy at the counter looks surprised to see her. He has already served her about 5 cups of coffee in the last few hours, finished his shift, gone home, rested, changed, and come back fresh. And there is R, looking wilted and grumpy, and in dire need of more coffee.
Then the coffee guy makes a fatal mistake. He says to R, ‘Oh ma’am, how come you are still here?’ R loses it completely. She breathes fire, her hair all disheveled, stomps her feet into the ground, and shouts at him, ‘Just give me the goddamn coffee!!!’.
Finally, the flight takes off, and the trio finds themselves in good old Bangalore. R’s hubby is waiting pensively at the airport. He has been told that he cannot let R spend even one extra minute at any airport in all her life henceforth. So he is ready to whisk her away as soon as he sights her.
As for P and J, they are just happy to be rid of each other, and on their way home after what seemed like a 100-hour journey!!