This was how I was welcomed by a hostess at a private airline desk on Pune airport. “Okay”, I said, without questioning, falling to my custom of providing complete silent co-operation to the customer service desks. “I’ve done my reservation long time back. I have paid the full sum so I shouldn’t be on the waiting too. It’s only 5.25 am in the watch. My flight is at 6.05 am. There’s still time for the departure. It’s okay. I need not worry“, I had to assured myself on my maiden flight experience.
My sister and a cousin, who were before me in the queue, had got their boarding passes. We three, as a part of a contingent of 50, divided into 2 teams, were about to leave for an entrepreneurial summit to be held in Bangalore on 24th and 25th of Jan’09. The contingent included top business executives, MBAs, CAs, first generation entrepreneurs, engineers and few students from Pune. The two teams were supposed to leave by 2 different flights with a gap of about 40 min. We three, were a part of the earlier team, which was busy collecting boarding passes. “I’ll get mine too. Par kambakht system ko bhi abhi bighadna tha???“, a restless thought hit me. Period. “Wait! This seems something else…!!!“, as I could see people behind in the queue collecting their boarding passes… I told myself, “This does not seem to be the system problem or maybe the problem got solved now“. I reached to the lady, “Is there still a problem?”(“I’ll get my boarding pass, right“). “Yes sir, gimme some time”. “Okay…!!!”. No worries. I had all the time in the world. “5.30 am. Still good 35 min. to go“. I again shifted aside.
Whiling away, I was observing people around, which is my favourite pass time when there’s nothing to do on bus stands or railway stations. Everyone seemed to be in his/her own world. Jitni bahar ki duniya badi utni hi badi andar kii duniya hoti hain. I was lost into mine. “Excuse me! I have a flight at 5.40. Here’s my reservation slip”, a rather shrewd voice of a 40-something adult, broke my chain of thoughts. “I’m sorry sir. You are late. You’ve missed the flight”. “What? Oh come on, it’s still 5 minutes to go naa! It’s 5.35. How can the flight take off?”, the guy said. “I’m sorry sir. The flight leaves in 5 min and the wheels have already started rolling. You should have come at least 15 min. before”.
“Stupid fellow“, I said, “Dude, this is an airline service. Not a bus, not even a railway. Look at me! I was 45 min before time“. The guy again, “But I’m from DY Patil. I’m a professor. I need to attend an important meeting. Tell your pilot to wait for 5 min”. “I can’t do anything, sir! I don’t have an authority”, the hostess said. I wanted to laugh at that guy. I mean, so what if you’re from DY Patil or any other politician’s institute? You have to suffer when you don’t follow time. The flight HAS to leave on time. It can not keep on waiting for anyone for that matter. I felt proud of the hostess. She answered him politely and did her duty well. “Okay, let me talk to your officer”. “Sure sir, but the flight HAS to leave on time”. The guy left. I exchanged a smile with the lady. A bit worried now, I asked calmly, “Please look at my problem. I’m much before time”. “Sure sir!”. Period. A minute later, “I’m sorry sir. You can’t take this flight. It’s full”.
“Whaaaaaaaaaattttttttttt?“, I said to myself and now with more concern I asked, “May I know how and why?”
To be continued…
Note: Sorry for the lengthy post. This is not the end of the episode though. There’s even more to come. I’m breaking this incident into 2 posts coz there’s a lot to tell. And it won’t be fun reading the whole thing into one post. I would appreciate if you would comment honestly on this one so that I can write the latter post in a more crisp manner. Btw, everything written above is true and has actually happened to me. It’s perfectly sketched in my memory. I’ve tried to portray it as it is, without a single bit of fantasy.
PS: If you find the title a little out of context, please bear with it for now and wait for the next post.