Last week I traveled to Kanpur for some work. While returning back via Lucknow I had a stop over of about 3 hours at IGI airport in Delhi before the departure of my flight to Chandigarh at 3PM. At the T3 terminal I ran into one of my professors who was also waiting for his next flight. We got into a conversation about few general things. I ended up missing my flight despite being present inside the security hold area — partly due to my carelessness (I was engrossed in our conversation over the coffee) and partly because they recently made T3 a “silent terminal” with limited announcements. Spectacular stupidity I did! I was annoyed at myself, more so because my dad was on his way driving 45KM to pick me up from Chandigarh airport, and now he had to either wait for me or return back from midway. Anyways, I called him up and told the story and he cutting short his drive returned back from midway. I tried in vain to request the JetConnect supervisor to put me in the next flight to Chandigarh. She wanted me to buy a fresh ticket worth Rs. 15000 (which was out of question). It was already around 3.45PM and it was clear that I had to quickly take either a bus or train to reach home in time.
Online ticketing was closed for both the evening Shatabdi trains to Chandigarh. I decided to try my luck in current booking so I took the AirportExpress to New Delhi station and went straight to the ticket counter on Ajmeri Gate side. Luckily the queue at ticketing window was just 8-10 people long. It was already 4.30PM and train was to depart at 5.15PM. The booking clerk told me that there was nothing available on 5.15PM train, and the current booking for 7.15PM will open after 30 minutes. In the humid July heat in crowded New Delhi railway station my anxiety grew further and I became even more mad at myself for missing the flight and now almost missing the trains as well. Lately, I’ve become reluctant to traveling by buses. I thought of just boarding the train without ticket and hoping to find some seat. I was prepared to pay fine for travelling ticketless. I went upto the next booking clerk and asked him how much was the fine in case I boarded without ticket. In the noise he didn’t get what I was asking. He signaled me to give him my reservation request form that I was holding. After keying something into the computer and told me that there was only one ticket left that too in executive class chair-car in 5.15PM train, and asked whether I’d like to buy it. It was almost double the cost (Rs. 1100 approx.) of regular chair car (but with almost same facilities). I happily bought the ticket. It was 5.05PM. Gosh … I needed to go all the way to platform #1 and I might miss this train as well because walking from Ajmeri Gate side of the station to platform #1 may take more than 10 minutes in rush hour on a Saturday! I tried to run as fast as I could jostling with the crowd standing on platform over-bridge.
Sweating, I was finally able to get into the E2 coach just in time. What a relief! That stressful 1 hour 45 minutes from 3.30PM to 5.15PM with so much conundrum and anxiety in my mind was over. It felt as if suddenly a lot of weight was lifted from my mind! The annoyance of missing the flight in a most stupid manner was replaced with the joy of finding a seat in air conditioned train. I called up home to let them know the new arrival time and coordinates. My dad, whose enthusiasm to receive the kids at airport, train or bus stations has never faded even by an iota over the past two decades, was quick with his “ਤੂੰ ਪਹੁੰਚ … ਬੱਸ ਮੈਂ ਆਯਾ ਲੈ ਤੇਨੂੰ ਲੈਣ” (you just reach over … I’ll be right there to pick you up).
Next day I was thinking about what would be the Higher Purpose in making me miss the flight. Normally, I’m a kind of person who is very very careful about time. Perhaps I had to settle some karmic accounts, perhaps He saved me (or my Dad) from some unpleasant situation. Looking back, I was laughing at myself, especially for my mental state that existed during those one and half hours until I got into the train. At physical level, just the mode of travel was changed for me from one to another with little difference in comforts. I stood in the ticketing queue for just about 15 minutes. But the amount of anxiety caused by all of this was high. Thinking about it now it seems as if these events were pre-planned and I just had to go through. That I travel in comfort was ensured by Someone. I think most of our life experiences are pre-decided with us having very little control. We unnecessarily worry about the future and the outcome of events that happen in our lives. How nice it will be if we just flow with things. But it is not easy.