Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Our "Passage to India" - (i)

When our friends told us they were going to be in India (Chennai - formerly Madras) for a year they asked if we would visit them for a holiday. So on one of their trips back to the UK we made the necessary plans and all the arrangements and bookings were finalised.

We left on Monday 20 October. The flight from Heathrow at 5.20 pm was due to arrive in Delhi at 6.15 am and our friends intended to be there to meet us. Bob had arranged for an ex-colleague/friend to drive us to the airport. It is a 2 hour journey on the motorway and we left home at around 12.30 pm, up the M5 onto the M4 and straight into a traffic jam and there we were stuck for over 2 hours! There had been an accident that morning at 8 am but the radio report had said it would be cleared by mid-day. To say it was a nail biting journey is an understatement. Once clear of the traffic our driver put his foot right down and it was all speed to Heathrow (by now in pouring rain). Nevertheless we arrived at 4.45 pm to be told, what we already knew, that the flight was now closed!!! The airport staff were very helpful and sent us to the ticket sales desk. There we explained the situation and asked for the next available flight to Delhi. Nothing direct until 28 October! (we hadn't realised that Diwali was beginning on the following weekend). However after a bit of searching we were found a flight to Mumbai with a domestic flight to Delhi, arriving at 3.30 pm. At least we would get there on Tuesday, albeit late.

Now we had to let our friends know the situation. Given the time difference they would probably be asleep, having to be at the airport at such an early hour. However I tried texting but had no response. We rang the hotel and left a message for them. Tried texting again and again nothing back from them. We had to give up on that and hope that one of our messages would get through. We finally flew out of London at 10.45 pm. We had a good flight to Mumbai (Bombay)and the onward journey with Jet Airways was also very good. We arrived and claimed our luggage but then were uncertain whether our friends would be there to meet us (a) because we were so much later than we had expected and (b) they may well have made arrangements for the day. Anyway, we walked out, both of us keeping an eye out for them. No sign, but then I spotted a man holding a card with our name and flight number on it. We met up and he explained he was from the hotel, that there had been some confusion as to what had happened but they had ascertained that we were on our way and he was sent to meet us and take us to our hotel. We followed him out into the sunshine.

I feel emotional even now thinking about it all and particularly when I remember the feelings I experienced then. We walked into the sunshine and the intense heat of the afternoon, the sheer volume of traffic and all the noises and sounds, of car horns, police whistles, people shouting and jostling. I was completely mesmerized. I'll never forget it. We had finally arrived in Delhi.

14 comments:

rosiero said...

Gosh, I bet you were biting your nails all the way to Heathrow and can imagine your panic trying to get through to your friends to say you were not on that flight. So glad you got there eventually. It always strikes me how strange it is to get into a metal tube in England and suddenly emerge from said metal tube somewhere completely different. A culture shock - quite literally. Different sounds, different smells, different air.

Denise said...

What a great post Anne, an exciting journey to a very exotic land. Enjoyed it tremendously.

Gill - That British Woman said...

oh my what a journey, I can't wait to hear all about the rest of your holiday. My nieghbour comes from India and I hope to go there with her on a vacation one day.

Gill in Canada

cheshire wife said...

What a traumatic start to a holiday! I bet that you were relieved to be met on yor arrival in India. Hope that things improved after that and went to plan. I look forward to hearing about the rest of the holiday.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Rosiero - a culture shock indeed.

Denise - thank you - hope you enjoy the rest when I get round to it!

Gill - I loved it - hope you do too.

CW - yes, marvellous to see someone looking for us in the crowd.

A x

Pam said...

Oh, what a nail-biting experience before you got there. It's always worrying when you've got someone meeting you & you're late isn't it?
I can't wait to hear about Delhi and all your adventures!!!

imbeingheldhostage said...

what a great post! I don't think we've ever had an uneventful drive to Gatwick, so I know that fear as you sit in a motorway mess.
I'm excited to hear the next installment :-)

Denise said...

Hello again Anne, thanks for stopping by. I am glad you are thinking of joining in on SkyWatch and will look forward to seeing your photos. Have a great weekend.

ALMOST MRS AVERAGE said...

Wow what a journey. I love your description of Dehli at the end, it's just how I would imagine it, but to have actually been there is amazing. :-D x

Ladybird World Mum said...

Nothing worse, just nothing, than being trapped in car, not being able to go any faster and seeing those minutes creep by. Horrible. So glad you made it there somehow!
Totally immersed in last bit of your posting. I was in Delhi too there for a second! Lets have some more, please.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Pam - a very stressful start - working on the next instalment!

imbeingheldhostage - thanks for your comment - hope you like the rest!

Denise - working on pictures already!

Mrs A - it was a holiday of "firsts" for us - wonderful!

ladybird world mum - thanks for dropping by and your comments.

My thanks to you all.

A x

Maggie May said...

Wow that must have been a bit worrying and what a relief when you saw the man who had obviously come for you. I felt the heat when you described walking out into the sunshine.

Jay said...

I'm told a first visit to India is unforgettable. I'll probably never get there, so I'll have to live vicariously through you!

It must have been so stressful, that journey to Heathrow! I'm glad you made it eventually.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Maggie - it was a relief, so glad we'd been found!

Jay - it was totally unforgettable.
Wonderful.

A x