Thursday, 10 December 2015

Jabalpur Diaries- Part 1

I am blessed to have an uncle in the Indian Army who gets posted to amazing places that you wouldn’t think of visiting otherwise. He has been inviting us for years now to visit him and his family in the places he has been stationed at. Finally, after ages of planning and cancelling those plans, Umma and I decided to visit them in Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh. As usual, my trips seem to obediently line up after each other rather than scatter around the year. So now, four days after reaching Kerala from Saudi Arabia, I was planning a trip to North India. 
The plan was- Air India flight from Calicut to Mumbai and from there a train to Jabalpur. Easy peasy, right? Wrong. Our flight was scheduled for a 9.30 am departure. We were ready by 6 am to leave for the airport when we got a message that the flight has been rescheduled to 10.15 am. I don’t know what crazy jinn possessed us to make us think ‘Okay, no broblem. We’ll leave home after a couple of hours.’ So we slept and woke up at 8 am, even had a lazy breakfast, and made our way out at 8.40 am. EIGHT FORTY AM FOR A TEN FIFTEEN FLIGHT!
For domestic flights the counter closes 45 mins before departure which mean we had to reach the airport before 9.30 am. Which was impossible considering the morning traffic and those damn children deciding to go to school right then. Umma and I were sure we would miss the flight when Umma, repository-of-great –ideas-when-we-think-there-are-no-other-options-left, called one of Uppa’s friends, Anilraj, who works in Air India and explained the embarrassing situation. He told us we can get in if we reach at 9.40 am. It was 9.15. Could we make it? We asked (basically shouted at) the driver to go faster. And we went, mother and daughter, zigzagging around big buses and tiny adamant autos that refused to let us overtake. And we made it to the airport at exactly 9.40 am.
We almost threw the taxi fare at the driver, picked our bags and ran in. Two frantic looking hjiabis clutching their bags tightly, what could probably look wrong in this scenario? We went to the counter to find that our boarding passes were already printed, waiting for us. Bags checked in, we ran to the gate…And had to go through Passport Control for a domestic flight….Turns out there is a secret passage for domestic passengers we missed. Considering the day and its happenings, not surprising at all. Anyway, we got through the tortoise lane and made it to the gate! Only to be told the flight has been delayed by another 45 mins. Sigh. The adrenaline rush kept me alert the rest of the day though. 
We reached Mumbai in two hours and had almost four hours more before the train. Having learned from our morning drama, we wanted to reach the railway station at least an hour in advance. So we hailed a pre paid cab from the airport thinking now we can relax. We got a driver who burped throughout the journey. Seriously, he burped at a rate of 12 burps per minute. I am not exaggerating, I timed it. After a disgusting 45 mins, we finally reached the Lokmanya Tilak Terminal (Kurla) and soon were on our way to Jabalpur. 
So here I am now, in a train chugging its way through Madhya Pradesh. It’s almost 8 am, the passengers are mostly asleep with the curtains drawn across their little cabins. We pass green fields of God knows what (my crop recognition skills are below average) and dusty roads. It’s quiet and peaceful, except for the occasional vendor who wants us to buy ‘breakfast chips’. (I bought the same chips for dinner last night.) Our co-passengers are three brothers- a bossy older one and two reverent younger ones. We also have new parents next to us, a sleep deprived mother and a doting father who can’t take his eyes off the baby. Now, sitting in this coach and looking out, yesterday’s drama seems like it never even happened. What does the rest of the trip have in store for us?

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