Sandeep is driving swiftly yet carefully. “Don’t worry Madam, you will get your flight,” he reassures. I look doubtful. “Means even if you are delayed, your flight will be delayed as it is.” Sandeep doesn’t seem to be concerned.
The human body. Today, I have this elaborate plan to make it all day without sleeping. Not so. I crash after lunch, only to be awoken fifteen minutes before it’s time for me to leave again to the airport for my next journey. Still asleep, I drowsily shuffle things around and zip up my bags. Oh boy. Here we go.
Mumbai traffic. I am in my first Uber ride in India, with Sandeep, the Uber driver. I do not anticipate the monsoon nor the traffic during rush hour. Imagine the experience of going through a drive-through car wash – that is the weight of the raindrops pelting down upon us, that is the speed at which we are moving. My efforts to take deep breaths helps to alleviate some of my tension, yet I still find myself perched on the edge of my seat, lips tight, craning my head to see the signal in front, and willing the car directly in front of us to release its red brake lights and move forward. Go go go! We are cutting it dangerously close to my flight’s departure.
Indian hospitality. I jog into the airport, ready to beg for my dear seat. Had it been America, reaching thirty minutes before my flight’s departure, not having checked in would be a no-go. I confront the first Jet Airways member with my apparent worry, and he quickly reroutes me from the snake-like line to bring me straight up to the counter. There is fast chatter in Hindi between him and the staff and I am honestly not sure what is going on. “Come madam,” says the boy, as he leads me away to a self check in kiosk. The boy almost laughs when I ask if the plane will leave without me. “No, no! don’t worry madam.” I am still a mixture of stirred and extremely sleepy, so I let him hold my phone with the flight details while he pushes buttons quickly on the screen. “Which seat madam?” He looks alarmed when I ask for an aisle. “No no madam, only aisle seats are very far back.” He is much more satisfied in giving me an emergency exit window seat. He escorts me over to security. I am visibly more at ease. Thank you brother.
Your own wit. I make it to my gate with what appears to be plenty of time – in fact, it looks like the flight staff is sleeping. I decide to go explore my terminal and quench my thirst with a bottle of Bisleri water and perhaps even some Indian filter coffee. It is right about now that stomach lurches for the second time of the day. My Indian wallet. I’ve left it at home in those last few rushed minutes of reorganizing my bag. My thirst increases significantly as the taunting chatter begins. How could you be so dumb Sonia? I realize that this derision is only depleting my precious stores of energy. Plan B starts to form. While penciling out the finer details in my mind, I dig deep into my bag for the emergency bar of dark chocolate I carry along, only to gain a firm grasp on something that feels rather familiar, my wallet.
For the second time this evening, I sink back into my seat, like a warrior exhausted from battle (Think Bagirao from Bagirao Mastani). I realize that today, I am quite on edge and need to chill out. Sonia, you know how to take care of yourself and India will take care of you.
100 or so rupees later, I sip on my first Indian filter coffee of this trip, enjoying the full bodied milk on the palate and the way it invites a soft awakeness throughout my spine. An announcement crackles on the speaker about the forty minute delay of my flight. I am tickled. Sandeep was right.
peace and love,
- July 2016
- Dates in Chennai