“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”
– St Augustine
I have decided to travel and see the world. Though an Indian I have not had a chance to see my own country. Each state in India is different; in matters of food, clothing, attitudes, culture and so I had decided to start reading from the chapters of my country- and I was to begin with discovering Jaipur.
Jaipur is also known as the pink city. During the British rule in India, Jaipur was the capital of the princely state of Jaipur, and happens to be the first planned city of India. The city which once had been the capital of the royalty now is the capital city of Rajasthan. The very structure of Jaipur resembles the taste of the Rajputs and the Royal families; colorful and splendid!
This was enough reason for Jaipur to be the first on the list. I packed my bags and set to Jaipur (this is where this blog post starts…)
With one bag and two parents I reached Dubai airport on 14th November 2010. We had (well that is what we booked) a direct flight from Dubai to Jaipur (with a 50 minute halt in Delhi; not a big deal). Cracking jokes and with all smiles ,we three reach the check-in counter for the first surprise of our travel.
“Sorry Sir, IC 896 Dubai-Jaipur is cancelled. You will fly with AI 746 to Delhi, collect your luggage and check-in again through the domestic terminal for your onward journey with IC 896 Delhi-Jaipur”, informs a short haired, stubborn female from the check-in counter (making sure she doesn’t have any eye contact with us).
“Why is that so?” asks my confused dad.
For the first time looking away from her computer and to us, she says “I don’t know!”
“Oh I am so sorry if this is causing any inconvenience. Actually we have some blah blah blah…” goes the Air India’s duty manager for the airport with the best apologetic look he can give one. “But don’t worry. We have specially arranged this flight for all of you booked into this route. This flight will land in Delhi at 0430 and your next flight is at 0600. I am again very sorry and I know you understand and blah blah blah…”
I should have thought of this before. Air India/ Indian Airlines have always made sure that they add the special ‘adventure’ element in my travel.
- Sometimes it is delayed luggage (I once had to wait for close to three hours to get one piece of baggage)
- Or it is a delayed flight (six hours delay)
- Or the rude air hostess who throws meals around to passengers (because she is having a bad day!!!)
- Or they simply cancel my ticket (without my knowledge) to accommodate someone travelling in an emergency (so what about my emergency).
Hoping that this surprise isn’t as bad as the ones above; looking back, why on earth did I still opt for this airline (apt saying: Some habits never die!!!)
“Namaskaar! Hum Dili Antarashtriye Hawaii Adda pahunch gaye hai. Samay chaar bhajke chalees minute aur bahar ka tapmaan bees Celsius hai (Namastey! We have landed at the Delhi International Airport. The local time is 0440 and the temperature outside is 20 deg Celsius…)”, my dad tells me and my mom that we will have to rush to catch the next flight and not to delay.
‘Wow! My dream vacation has begun…’ my thoughts are interrupted as my dad frets over the delayed baggage. “We need to collect this and then only can we check in for the next flight”, he fumes. The smart person he has always been, he decides to ask the status of the check-in for our next flight, while me and mom were made to wait for our ‘the ‘ red suitcase!
“IC 896 to Jaipur? I am not sure if there is such a flight? Are you sure”, asks the handsome ground staff to my dad.
“What do you mean by whether I am sure? I wouldn’t be cracking jokes with you at 05.15 in the morning”, my dad.
“ But sir, this IC 895 is a flight that comes from Dubai and then leaves for jaipur. If that flight has not come from Dubai, how can it go to jaipur?”
“ But this is not what I was told from Dubai?”
“Then you need to go and find from Dubai” (my shocked father didn’t believe that heard it right this time)
“ Don’t you dare speak to me like that. You and your airline has no right to strand passengers like this”
“ You may contact our office”
My dad turns to see a triumphant mother daughter duo hurrying towards him with the red suitcase. I heroically managed to get the red suitcase (without any help) from the conveyor belt!
“There is no flight to Jaipur” (huh! I felt like a bucket of boiling water was poured over my head), he tells us.
“What happened daddy?”
“ Come, let’s find out!” and a tensed trio walks out of the arrival gate of the Delhi Indira Gandhi Terminal.
“Hi, we are coming from Dubai and were booked in for IC 896 Dubai- Jaipur. We were promised that there is a connecting flight from Delhi to jaipur and now your colleague tells me there is nothing of that sort. Can you please explain to me what is happening?”
“ Yeah there is no flight to Jaipur”, says the red sari clad woman and turns her back towards us.
“ But madam that was not what was told to us while we were boarding from Dubai.”
“ We had communicated that this flight is withdrawn. It was cancelled yesterday also.”
“But that is not what we were told”
“Now I am telling you, the flight is cancelled”
“Why were we given false promises and sent to Delhi from Dubai. This is a clear case of cheating.”
“Why otherwise you would have not boarded the flight?”
“Of course not. Why will I want to be stranded in Delhi airport”
“I need an answer to this. I am travelling with my family and must reach Jaipur.”
My worried mom looks lostwhile I search for a toilet nearby. My dad and the lady at the Air India counter continue the argument- when I overheard another lady with a staff member of Air India.
“Sorry maam, I can’t help you!”
“After two hours you tell me you can’t help me?” Where is your manager?”
“Maam please understand I …”
“Shut up, you have been feeding me with rubbish for two hours and I don’t want to miss my flight to Moscow. Where is your manager?
“Maam let me see what can I do?”
“After two hours you are now trying going to see what you can do? How inefficient can you be? “
“Maam please cool down”
“I will not. I have paid for this. I take this rubbish for two hours and kgjasgfaflagsgb (lady in tears and I couldn’t follow a word)”
Leaving them, I return to my case.
“ Sir, if there is no flight what can I do?”
“I have tickets booked for this zone and when I was boarding from Dubai I was told something else and now I am here.”
“ Sir, if there is no flight at all what can I do?”
“Send us by some other airline. We are your responsibility now”
“No sir we can’t do that”
“What can you do then?”
“Its not just me and my family. There is lot more of passengers to Jaipur.”
Pssst psssst psssssst ( some chats among themselves and numerous phone calls)
“ Sir we can offer you a partial refund?”
“Sir that is IATA’s policy”
“You don’t teach me about IATA. According to IATA’s policy you need to provide compensation in the actual value of the service. And its not my fault. I didn’t report late after the gate closing.”
“Sir we can arrange a taxi for you”
“A taxi for what?”
“We can drop all the passengers to jaipur by taxi. That’s all we can do. Either the refund or the taxi”
“ Sir the choice is yours. You have already wasted a lot of time. Now don’t waste more time and please make it to the taxi” (huh! Who wasted whose time?)
“ If I had to travel to jaipur by taxi or if I had all this time why would I opt to fly by air?”
“Sir this is all I can do. Nothing more”
My mom tells me him let’s just take this and move away from here. The rude tone with the streak of sarcasm she was talking was too much for my mom to take. “ We will go with this taxi and get back to Dubai and find out what happened. Otherwise we will be stuck here. And it was from Dubai they lied and got us into this mess. Let’s just leave this place”, mom advises dad.
Noting the female’s name from the counter my angry dad walks behind the taxi driver as mom and me follow him.
“This is the last time we are travelling my Air India or Indian Airlines. Horrible! Customersoode engeene perumaaranamne aariyilla (they don’t know how to behave with customers)”, my dad adds as we get seated in the taxi sharing with another passenger.
“Namal eppol yethum Jaipuril? (when would we reach Jaipur)”, my mom asks.
“ five to six hours”, my dad adds as he tries to adjust his leg with the baggage underneath.
“ho! Ootree samayam wasteayile? (a lot of time is wasted), my mom says just to get the angry look from dad.
“I hope there is no issue when we travelling back from Jaipur?”, dad says.
“Naavu kadiku. Karinaava. Tirichu pokumphol oru prashnom undavila ( bite your tongue. Nothing like this will happen on our journey back)” mom adds as she enjoys the rain drizzling.
Though our road trip to Jaipur took a long time, I enjoyed the way and the sights along it.
Jaipur was fun. A different experience; a cultural experience coupled with good shopping. Four days was a bliss. Beautiful colors, the busy streets of India, lots of rain and tasty spicy food. Holidays could have not got any better.
I didn’t realize how the four days in jaipur passed. It was the fifth morning and we were checking out from our hotel. We had come to jaipur with one red suitcase but was leaving with three pieces of luggage. ‘All my friends would love the gifts’ and my thoughts are interrupted as my dad speaks to the driver:
“Bhaisahan thoda jaldi karna. 0715 ka flight hai. 6 baje tak check in karna hai (brother please speed up. Our flight is at 0715 and we need to check in by 6)
“Koi problem nahi sirji. Aapka kaunsa terminal hai (no problem sir, which terminal do you need to go)”
“Indian airlines ki flight hai (it’s the Indian airlines flight)”
I smile and I recollect our road trip, it’s okay i suppose. As the saying goes alls well that goes well.
We reach Jaipur airport and as dad goes to pick a trolley for our luggage, I quickly check the lit up board for our flight status.
IC 496 Jaipur Delhi 0715 Scheduled
Thank God and I help my father with the luggage and let him that the flight is on time. My father smiles at me and asks my mother to get the passport and ticket from her handbag.
And as we push our trolley inside, the lit up board changes to
IC 496 jaipur Delhi 0715 Cancelled
“Excuse me. We are supposed to travel by IC 496 to jaipur and I see the flight is cancelled”
An elderly gentleman looks up at us, “Everybody informed. No flight”
“No we were not informed. So what do we do now?”
“No flight from 15 days. So no flight today.”
“ But I got these tickets booked ten days before, my travel agent didn’t tell me about this nor did anyone inform me”
“Okay. Okay, we take you to delhi in taxi. Aarey uss ladke ko bhula… (hey call that boy…)”
Maybe all is not well that doesn’t end well…
As this blog’s policy is to be positive and see things in a positive light, all that I can add is Thank God I reached home safe; despite all these hindrances and I had a lovely time.