It’s a day of travel. A back-breaking day of travel, I must add.
Chandigarh is a fair distance away from Nagpur but the more vital issue for me is the need to change flights at Delhi. No direct flights between the two cities or even if there are, might have been a few times costlier.
I leave home at 2 pm and by the time I have checked into my hotel, it’s 10.15 pm. My maths suggests it’s more than eight hours of door-to-door travel, which is probably more than I needed for a similar door-to-door experience recently to get to Thailand.
Of course when you are flying to Thailand, you don’t mind even 16 hours to get there but that’s a story for another day.
The Chandigarh-Delhi flight is an uneventful one but things escalate quickly on the next one between Nagpur and Delhi.
For one I make a small error in thinking out my booking properly – choosing two different airlines for these two flights. What it means is I need to check out my luggage after the first flight, change terminals from outside the airport and check it in yet again.
And there isn’t too much help available either.
Still gives me enough time between the two flights, which is a blessing because I have some transcribing to be done and what better way to kill two hours at an airport than to hear your own voice and that of an international cricketer and then writing the whole thing down.
On second thoughts I can think of a couple of better ways.
The pilot for the Delhi-Nagpur flight makes a quick early announcement of the weather being a tad bad but that evidently doesn’t prepare us enough for what followed. I will get to that in a bit.
Even before that, I have the pleasure of having the ICC CEO on board too, along with a few other known faces in the council, which makes it a fairly important flight. Assuming cricket is a very important sport.
I mean just imagine you are on the same flight as Sepp Blatter?
Probably a wrong example given he’s no longer the football chief and I am yet to come around to remembering the new guy’s name.
But that’s what it is.
It is a bumpy ride for a while before things smooth out, and things are going decently for a bit, with the worst seemingly been behind us.
Seemingly being the key word there.
The plane hits a sudden turbulence, almost out of nowhere.
For a brief period – it sure seemed like Shoaib Akhtar or Ajay Lalcheta could have bowled an entire over in that time – the plane looks like it’s spun out of control. Later I realise it was only about 20 seconds.
To describe it more accurately, it seems like a car moving at at a 100 miles suddenly encounters a speed-breaker and has no time to apply brakes.
Even the pilot doesn’t sound too happy with the situation for those fleeting moments, as he immediately calls out a short, terse message on the PA system, “Crew sit down,” before even having the time to put on the seat belt sign.
Most passengers have their hearts in their mouths.
I do for sure, as I hold on the seat in front of me for assurance. More like I hold on to it for my dear life despite knowing I am a drowning man thrown both ends of a rope.
The guy next to me, who I later realise is also a part of the media personnel covering the World T20, taps me on my shoulder to ask me if I was okay. A goofy smile, or at least I think that’s what it must have looked like, is all I can offer.
I am not okay.
Nor is the biryani they had earlier served. Note to self, never buy on-flight, ‘instant’ biryani which takes eight minutes to prepare.
For one, that’s a lot of waiting time when the others around are munching away into their foods. But more importantly, it tasted like like a badly-made ‘pulao’ eaten on a windy desert.
The good news is, and there’s always good news, I survive both, the flight and the ‘biryani’ and get to the hotel safely.
Am not much of a pillow-hugger but it’s not been a normal evening anyway.