Sunday, December 17, 2006

De-planes are de-layed

Plan was, fly to Colombo, wait a few hours and then fly to London in time for a late breakfast at TC. In actuality, as both planes have been delayed, the plan has changed.

The one from Bangalore was delayed by 4 hours, but Arun, who has fingers in every travel pie, had specially made friends with the manager of Sri Lankan airlines who phoned him up personally to tell him of the delay, which meant that, instead of sitting at the airport for hours on upright, minimally padded metal tube chairs with only enough knee room between rows for the significantly shorter Indian thigh, I sat around with his lovely parents eating appam and sambar for supper, chatting.

The drive to the airport contained the most poetically perfect example of Indian traffic chaos to send me on my way. Despite leaving for the airport at 10.30, it wasn't long before we came upon a stationary line of traffic. My driver, who seemed to be from the more restrained part of the spectrum of Indian drivers, duly pulled up behind the car in front. We were on a two-way road with a single lane in each direction. After a couple of minutes of not much happening, I looked up and noticed that the number of lanes had expanded to 3. Courteously, the new lane makers had left enough space for a small car with no worries about losing a wing mirror or two, to get by in the other direction. But not for long. As soon it everyone else noticed how much more progress you could make by driving on the wrong side of the road, they all wanted a go. We made slower but more legal progress to the junction, where a lane divider separated the patient from the impatient drivers. A couple of the latter group made swashbuckling left turns cutting across all the legit and less legit lanes. In the midst of this swirling maelstrom was the most bemused and ineffective traffic policeman I have ever seen. He looked like a deer caught in 6 rows of headlights.

Anyway, after the first short flight, here I am, sitting gritty eyed at 3.40 am in Colombo airport listening to piped classical music, played, it would appear, on comb and paper, whilst a lot of christmas tree lights in this famously buddhist and hindu country twinkle rhythmically in plastic garlands and on trees. Occasionally, the music stops for an announcement made by someone who clearly trained at the the Karma Sutra School of Public Address. It's impossible to make out what she is saying but she sure says it in a suggestive fashion.

I hope the next (12 hour) flight is not delayed longer than the two hours they so far have promised. I don't have a very good record of getting back from India at the original scheduled time. The first trip, I was delayed by 24 hours and no-one, despite promising they would, informed Mum and Dad, who came to the airport to meet me after my being away, and at one point believed lost forever in revolutionary China, for 7 months, only to wait and wait and wait until everyone except me had got off the plane, which wasn't surprising, because I was in Dubai. The second trip to India, the plane from Calcutta was also delayed by 24 hours, but luckily, not only had I been away for less time, with no ventures into unstable war zones, I also managed to make the necessary phone call myself. This time I have managed to contact the most reliable member of my family, my Grandmother, who will disseminate the information as necessary.

I sincerely hope, however, that I don't make a hatrick of being 24 hours late.


Anonymous said...

Welcome home!
Wonder what your first meal will be?!

Heather said...

Good luck with getting home. Enjoy the culture shock moment. I remember flying over the fields of england after 3/12 in Egypt was amazing - England looked so unfamiliar, then walking into a shop and seeing all the chocky bars was the next sight which seemed like something I barely remembered from a previous experience. Quite surreal. Reminded me in a way of the familiar becoming unfamiliar as a child when ..... dont know if anyone else can identify with this.... when you would be lying in bed with your eyes closed and suddenly you would feel as if you were lying the other way round in bed, and with your eyes still closed you would try to convince yourself that your head was actually at the wall end and your feet pointing to the window or whatever, unsuccessfully, even though you knew it to be the case, then finally you would give up and open your eyes and it would all make sense again. Anyone identify!!??!! Wonder if this is a shared childhood experience or if it is just me!!!!! Being mental!!! Let me know. Anyways back to real life. I finish work on Sat afternoon and then have the rest of Sat, SUn, Mon and Tue off. Yahay!!! Happy christmas Bel, and mike if you see this as you seem to be bel blog checking all the time too! xxh

Anonymous said...

it was so nice to see you at christmas. 4 months sounds an awfuly long time till we see you again, take care we'll be thinking of you {we do think its quite fantastic what your doing there} but we will be glad when your home for good
loads of love all the sheps xxx