I am trying very hard to get over my fear of flying. But flights like these don’t help much.
It was a great take-off from Bombay and I was looking forward to my time in Kerela. After all, it was God’s own country. My entire itinerary was already planned, train tickets booked, tablers and circlers ready to welcome me in their homes and it was going to be great week! And then it happened.
Just as we were about to land, we aborted the approach and took off again. Usually such things means that something is wrong either on the ground or the plane. Being a nervous flier, all different kind of thoughts went through my head. Was there something wrong with our plane? Is the landing gear stuck? Did the pilot misjudged the landing? After a few minutes the pilot announced that another plane had burst its tyre while take off and was now stranded on the runway and thus we would not be able to land. So we went in circles over the airport and when I looked down I couldn’t see the plane, so i guessed that something definitely was wrong with our plane and he was just burning fuel and preparing for a crash landing. Oh My God!
After almost twenty minutes, we were updated that the airport would remain closed for a few hours and we were being redirected towards Coimbatore or Trivandrum. I just wished it was Trivandrum as I can still stick to my normal schedule and may also be able to save a day of travel later. At least my wishes were heard and we were heading towards Trivandrum. I could see a lot of nervous faces around me with some sign of relief.
It was one of the worst landings I’ve experienced and I even heard a few passengers show their displeasure. We skidded left and right, bumped a few times before finally slowing down. I looked outside the window, anticipating fire trucks, ambulances and all the other things they show in Hollywood movies. But I saw none. I guess everything was OK!
A few passengers decided to get off, and I followed them. No sense waiting for three hours in the plane to be sent back to Cochin. Lets make an adventure out of it since it was already turning out to be one. After almost half an hour, we managed to get our bags (some people didn’t even get that) and I boarded the pre paid taxi to the city center. Its hardly pre paid, its more like pre assured fare as you still need to pay the taxi driver when you reach. Even though I was assigned a cab number, he refused me to take me to my destination until one gentlemen volunteered, pulled his lungi up, tied it around his waist and sat in his car.
I came to Arya Niwas for lunch. Apparently it was one of most popular places to eat, since everyone I spoke to mentioned the same place. South India has one of the best lunches to offer -MEALS. Most, if not all restaurants have this system where a set menu is served to you which consists of sambar, rasam, veggies, papad, curd, various chutneys, rice, rice and more rice. You can ask for unlimited helpings for as low as Rs 30- Rs 60, depending on the place. Keep eating, as this is one of the best sights to see and eat in South India!
Train travel in Kerela is a must. It is one of the most beautiful states, filled with trees and rivers. Try traveling in a non air-conditioned compartment and experience being in India! I also learnt that for short distances, I could board any train with a simple ticket taken at the counter. No long lines, no waitlist, the person at the counters gives you all the tickets for any class of travel and even tells you which train to take. It ones of the best forms of current reservation I have seen and experienced. Almost like Eu Rail! (Though the quality of train differ!)
With a ticket in my hand and two hours to kill, I walked the length and breadth of the station, experiencing the ‘smallness’ of it. I also spent a few minutes canceling my tickets and rescheduling some part of the travel. These stations have so much character and almost takes you back fifty years. Life is slow and easy and that’s what Kerela is- slow, easy, beautiful!