Advance venture

With five minutes to spare, we were seated in the plane panting for breath.

The visit to Sri Lanka has been an impending dream for atleast five years. Having cancelled a planned vacation to the island previously due to political unrest, I had my fingers crossed this time.

Given that the tour itinerary involved a full week and our travel party included two couples along with two toddlers, packing change of clothes along with medicines and other emergency paraphernalia for children was an exhausting ordeal.

The first lap of the trip involved an eight hour train journey from Bengaluru to Madurai, the train was to reach Madurai by half past seven in the morning and the flight was to leave at twelve in the noon. After depositing our loaded suitcases and strategically positioning our feet to avoid the cockroaches shuttling through the air-conditioned compartment, we animatedly started discussing the plan for the forthcoming week. As the train ambled along, everyone began sharing travel anecdotes. This opened a Pandora of stories of frustrations over missed flights and lost baggage and non-cooperative airport staff. After letting out some steam, we called it a day and lodged ourselves in the berths ready to sleep.

My eyes opened at seven in the morning to someone saying, “Do you know that the train is delayed by five hours?” I stared open mouthed processing the shocking news that had just been delivered. “Five hours – is that even possible?” The whole journey was supposed to be just eight hours. Apparently, the train was lazing around in one station for four hours. Waking up the rest of the party so they can share the panic, we finally planned to get down at Salem, hire a cab and rush to the airport. It was 8 a.m. when we reached Salem and as I boarded the cab, I remember thinking that even with 60 km an hour, it would take us four hours to reach the Madurai airport and it was impossible to catch an international flight at this pace.

I was struck with the disbelief that I am going to miss out on this vacation for the second time. When we finally zipped towards the airport at 11:15 am cruising through some fantastic roads, the image of a plane flying across the skies and of me casting a yearning look from the ground was flashing through my mind. The airport officials were initially giving us a hard time but something convinced them in the end – maybe it was our pathetic, beseeching faces or it could be the screaming children. Interestingly, the staff of the deserted airport rose into action, checked in our bags and even filled our immigration forms. With five minutes to spare, we were seated in the plane panting for breath.

With such an adrenaline rush at the beginning of the journey, who needed to plan an adventure? One thing is for sure, next time we are in search of a conversation topic, we will certainly not grumble about airways, but let us not rule out the grouse on the Indian Railways.

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