It was spring 2017, we were talking about where to go on holiday. I was in favor with Krabi, a small tourist town in southern Thailand. My wife has been asking for traveling to Vietnam as she has been invited for a EBRU art show. After a long discussion, we decided to travel to France, I have never wanted to take this trip but due to the recent political changes in Turkey, we could not visit our parents in Turkey and we decided to bring them to a Paris for a week to ease our longing. So I accepted but since the beginning, I felt I should have never plan this trip.
The trip was planned for the end of September. We took our visa and airplane tickets then we prepared our baggage. I checked the weather in Paris: it was very cold for us. In Singapore it almost never fell below 25 degree. For the last 14 years in my life I have lived in the tropical countries and I never thought of buying tick coats for cold weather. But this time for a week of use, I need to have one. My brother told me that he will send me his coat so I do not necessarily buy one for a week. After all we will not need it later, I can return it back to my brother.
Since we will be in Europe, I called some of my friends there. One of them is living in Belgian Capital, Brussels, He invited me over to be his guest and stay at their house. When he insisted, we accepted. He was waiting for us. The plan was we to take off from Singapore Changi Airport on 19 September evening and after about 6 hours of flight, it was supposed to land on famous Indian historic Mumbai and after about 2 hours of refreshments, we were supposed to transfer to another airplane for Paris. But the nature had his own plans, Mumbai airport and planes were under water due to a typhoon and we could not land on Mumbai on that night. The bad feelings I have mentioned earlier about this trip has found me again. After taking a couple of tours over Mumbai, our captain decided to change the course. Fortunately, our pilot did not land on Mumbai under existing weather conditions. You could have never had chance to meet me otherwise. We landed on another famous Indian big city, Bangalore. It was 4am in the morning, we landed and with no explanations, we were waiting in the plane. Two Indian girls siting behind me were singing some famous songs happily.
There were no announcements made so many of the passengers like me, did not know what was going on and where did we land. My wife was sleeping and I decided to sleep. It wasn’t the first time I missed a plane and this time it wasn’t my fault so I didn’t make a big fuss. I just informed my friend about my delay and asked him to welcome my father and mother in law from Paris Charls de Goul airport. Because we could not be there to meet them. When the clocks ticked 8 am in the morning, people started to murmur. Some passengers were crying. We were in the plane for almost 11 hours. The mood in the plane has changed dramatically. Hostesses and pilots left the plane, two security personals were guarding the plane door. We had run out of water in the airplane. There was not a single drop of water and no breakfast were served. My wife was very worried and she wanted to know what was going on? I said just keep calm and wait, we don’t know what’s the problem yet.
Some passengers were talking about a storm in Mumbai last night, so we assumed the plane probably waiting for storm to be over. But in the side of door, there was a loud fight between securities and some passengers. Finally, they have made an announcement; they said they would change the flight crew and prepare the plane for the next flight; we just needed to patient until the Mumbai airport is ready for landing. They announced the typhoon has not over in Mumbai and they have no estimation for now. There was a big uncertainty. Passengers were angrily asking for how much more will they wait in the airplane. We were hungry, thirsty, anxious and more and more stressed. Finally, there was another announcement telling, the airport has granted us their waiting lounge and we will be transferred shortly… After this last announcement, they brought an airport bus to transfer us to controls and gates. The bus was very crowded and almost everyone was standing. I thought, at least it is for a short time. How long will it take us to go to the gates? – May be 10 minutes maximum. It took half hour for bus to start its engine and another half hour to get to the gates. When we reach close to the gates, everyone in the bus held up their hand baggage and leaned toward to the doors, but doors did not open. Bus continued and made a tour around the airport, 6 times. It took about another 2 hours. Gradually, people in the bus get very angry and some started a fight. Some others were shouting to the driver. In addition, a little over weighted person behind me shouted with an Indian accent for an emergency toilette need.
I was thinking there were no food or drink in the airplane but at least we were sitting. Everyone was showing a little or more signs of anger. I was calming my wife… Again, the horrors of my earlier feelings have found me and I said to myself: “We should have never planned this trip.” Finally, around 11 am they took us into the Bangalore International Airport’s waiting lounge. We have passed a passport and security check again. Inside the lounge they offered us a ticket for a simple Indian lunch, as time was now passing more slowly, people were becoming more upset. There were a run after the people on duty. Some were asking for a return payment for their tickets, some were persistently asking for “what now?”, “What will happen now?” All they could have reply was you have to wait, because they also did not know what will happen and what to do. It was a total chaos. I decided to leave the chaos and crowd and try the coffees and masala teas of this airport’s cafés. Time was really very slow here, we were trapped in a small airport in Bangalore in India. All the charging stations were full and our phone batteries were dying slowly. We were just half sleep waiting on a chair. Then I saw a small group of passengers was following a duty man. He later called all the passengers of my plane to boarding gate. We were happy but our misery did not finish yet.
We have now boarded into the same plane but again the plane was just waiting. After another long hour, the plane took off for Mumbai. The airport in Mumbai was much bigger. We were instructed to renew our tickets “ boarding passes” and see if there is any place for us on tonight’s plan. When we came to the counter, there were three people in front of us. My wife and I were 4th and 5th on the line, there were no others. I saw a few people sleeping on the floor with their bags. There were three officer on the counters but only one officer was seemingly working. The second officer was always on the phone, she was talking in Indian but I think she was taking a meal recipe. The third officer was sitting and standing up on his chair, going back and forward, walking around and talking to security behind waiting the door. It took about 45 minutes for one seemingly working officer to finish the job for the first person on the line. Then she received a phone and she talked about 25 minutes on the phone before she welcome the second person in the Que.
My legs were giving me pain now. Because there were no one else after me in the que, I took a small walk around to stretch my legs. When I was walking, I saw a plane full of passengers climbing up the stairs and heading to the counters. I run back to hold my place in the que, considering how slow the counter moves… When I got back, the officer were talking on the phone and another officer was instructing her something on the screen. It took her almost an hour to finish the service for the second person in the que. We were a bit more close to the officer now. And the que behind me was getting really very long. Many of them already bored and tired, some were laying on the floor. Kids were crying, it was another chaos here. Then people lost their respect to the que and many others approached to the counter shouting and demanding for their tickets to be fixed. I did not have power to fight for this que. When one of the old man in the crowd got attention, people turned even angrier and a fight broke. Already very slow working only officer in the desks, now left the work and the security came to hold the fight. After a bit cooling, officer completely left her desk. We had no one to help us until seemingly chief officer decided to sit on the chair and work. After another 4 hours of horror, we were in the waiting lounges. They also gave us a ticket for a simple Indian meal. Having only three people in front in the beginning, we left more than a hundred people behind when we pass the security. I did not know how I should feel; lucky (?) Our plane took off 2 am on 21st September and we arrived Paris at 10 am in the morning, before they open the gates, they said they need to spray a kind of chemical so diseases from India would not spread to France. I found it a bit disgracing but this was nothing compare to what we have been through. Moreover, this all we had was nothing comparing to what was next to come. Our horror about this trip has not over yet…