Friday, July 25, 2008

Memorable Journey

American Airlines Flight 4662, Boston to New York, had a scheduled departure time at 3.05pm. My friend had dropped me off at Logan airport by 1.30 pm. The good thing about Logan airport is that there are hundreds of rocking chairs for you to rest and watch the runway as planes land and take off. I had grabbed a sandwich and a frappacino mocha. With more than an hour to kill, I rested my tired bottom on one of the rocking chairs and decided to sit and wonder how tons of metal can seemingly take off in the air effortlessly.

My flight was on time. We started boarding at 2.45pm and precisely at 3.05 pm the plane started to taxi off to the runway. The weather wasn't too good. There was slight drizzle with an occasional clap of thunder but we didn't think too much about it. But the airports thought otherwise. They delayed all take offs till such time the clouds, which were now becoming darker, passed over. So we sat there in the tiny Embraer jets, cramped for space, for the next two hours hoping against hope that we would be allowed to take off soon. But that was not to be. We were taxied back to the gate to await further instructions.

5.45pm: All Flights to La Guardia cancelled
5.55pm: All Flights to Newark cancelled
6.15pm: All Flights to Washington DC cancelled
6.25pm: All flights scheduled to take off after 6pm to JFK Int'l cancelled
6.45pm: Flight AA 4662 to JFK, expected time of take off 7.15pm

7.05pm they announce we can board the plane again. With a huge sigh of relief we grab our bags and start boarding. Plane taxis back to runway and the plane in front of us takes off. Then the wait begins. At 9.05pm, after two hours of sitting inside the plane, we are told the JFK airport is shut down. We taxi back to the gates.

9.15pm, Logan airport shut down, due to severe thunderstorms.

By this time the 20 odd people in our aircraft had become aquainted with each other. Melena, the cute looking Russian girl, had connecting flight to Ukraine at 9pm that night but she had to push it to next day. She had an adorable accent :-)

Steve and Amy, both were into parasite research were heading back to Cambridge, UK. They missed their connecting flights too.

Rafael and Jerry, who were my co-passengers and sitting on either side of me, were both from New York and both their mobile phones had died down. They sounded apologetic everytime they requested to use my phone to call up their families.

9.25pm: The storm continued to rage outside as we tried to figure out how best to reach NY. We called up Amtrak and they said the last train to NY, not an express, leaves station at 9.45pm. Estimated time of reaching NY was 2.01am.

9.33pm: Mad rush to the station and to buy the Amtrak tickets to NY
9.45pm : The train is pulling out as we all scramble inside and find our seats

9.45pm to 1.55am: Almost the entire list of passengers in Flight 4662 is now in this train. We spend the whole journey talking to each other, buy each other snacks and drinks, and somehow none of us felt sleepy. We have a good time teasing each others accents and love habits and when Penn station arrived we kind of felt we had known each other more for many days.

I get into a taxi that is driven by Sardar. He talks to me about the no-trust vote in India and how he feels Manmohan Singh is the best prime minister for India. I asked him if he had been to India off late... he said he had not seen India since 1981 when he first came to USA. It's amazing how people who have not seen how India is in the last 30 yrs have opinions about what kind of Prime Minister the nation deserves.

3.05am, Jersey City: I check into my hotel. I make myself a coffee in the room and look out from the 10th floor at the traffic flowing by. I felt a sense of simple happiness inside me that I didn't crib even once about the whole episode. That is not usual of me - because I usually prefer things to be very precise.

Maybe things happen for a specific reason. Maybe I will bump into that cute looking Russian girl once again :-)

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