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.
The thin end of the wedge
5 days ago