The art of missing flights

reflections

The art of missing flights

My kid brother grew emulating me. He had reasons, as I was this proverbial good girl. He, on the contrary, was a brat. But now, the tables have turned and I look up to him instead. Before this happened, one of the things I’d never done was to miss a flight whilst he had missed many.

I lived in Bengaluru at the time. One day, when I’d left home much on time for the airport, I met with an unexpected traffic jam, and could reach the airport only after the plane had long taken off. Little did I know that this was the proverbial opening of the Pandora’s box in my aviation history.

Around this time, I came across dried and purified mud that worked wonders for my skin. I carried it in my hand baggage, little anticipating the concerns of airport security. But, I still maintain that mud isn’t mentioned as a prohibited item in the list displayed at airports. The officer at the security check-in thought it was powder explosive. He was a huge man from the state in our country that produces the largest number of wrestling champions.

My neck hurt from the hyperextension of the cervical muscles just trying to match his gaze. He looked at me with an expression very similar to that of my nephew when I put Pepsi instead of milk in his feeding bottle — he goes near the bottle and looks up startled with his amazingly deep eyes, and wrinkles up his nose into a contorted mosaic of criss-crossed lines — just as this lovely policeman did after sniffing the mud. In his heavily accented English he demanded to know what the powder was. After much pleading, he seemed amenable to accept my explanation. Perhaps, the flush in my skin made my face glow, which he might have attributed to this magic mud. His eyes suddenly lit up. He told me that he would let me go with the mud if I was willing to taste it to prove its harmlessness. Eating mud at the airport security check — what all has a woman to endure for the sake of glowing skin! Of course, I missed the flight.

Shortly thereafter, I had to take a flight from the national capital to Indore, and I was determined to catch it. The hustle and bustle of Delhi Airport was a sight as entertaining as a colourful Indian mela. A toddler in his mother’s arms, ahead in the queue, was playing hide-and-seek with me. How could anything possibly go wrong, I thought to myself. I had finally beaten the jinx of missing flights. My reverie was broken by a sudden burst of rain, or so I thought. The first thought firing through my head was how could it rain inside the airport?

As that instant passed, I realised that a man behind me in the queue had taken ill and thrown up on me. I’m a doctor by profession and used to putting my fingers (gloved, of course) in various orifices of the human body, and also used to the smell and feel of the various body fluids. But, I was completely unprepared for this. Soaked in someone’s vomit, I went through security, rushed to the nearest clothes shop, changed into new clothes, and sprinted to the boarding gate. But alas, I reached the boarding gate a few minutes after it had closed. I stood, feeling yucky in new clothes, the smell of someone’s vomit, now mixed with my sweat, making me nauseous.

Since the next flight available was two days later, I sat at home, watched television, and wondered if voodoo actually existed and if I should see a shaman to get myself rid of it.

A few weeks later, my team and I helped create history in Madhya Pradesh by organising the first ever interstate organ harvesting and transportation from Indore, leading it to become one of the leading cities in organ donation in India. It all began with me having to co-ordinate with multiple agencies like the police, media, government authorities and airlines. Here I was, getting traffic stopped across three cities, transporting organs across three state jurisdictions, getting green corridors created on the road and in the air, all of this with tremendous support from the agencies mentioned. Though I can transport organs across states in record time, my spree of missing flights continues. And I write this as I sit at an airport, having missed yet another flight.

 PS: Pledge your organs today!

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