On my first visit to India, I decided to skip out on a visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal. Never mind the fact that I was in the Delhi and Gurgaon area, the day trip cost extra money that I did not want to spend. The next year my sister and father both had overlapping business trips in India. They decided to take a father-daughter trip to Agra. When I saw their precious photos in front of the great marble wonder, I was a little jealous and also filled with regret. That time in 2011 might have been my only chance to see Agra and I didn’t go.
So now I am a temporary resident in India, I have the privilege of visiting Agra in the winter. My roommate and I booked a weekend flight to Delhi and a one day bus tour of Agra for this past weekend. I was so excited to finally see the Taj Mahal, especially in early Feb when my timeless photo wouldn’t be assaulted by sweat stains and glistening skin. Our flight had been pushed from 8 pm to 9 pm so we knew we had a good amount of time after school to get to the airport. We left around 7 which is usually plenty of time to get to the airport. However, in true India fashion, something had to go wrong.
First, our taxi driver took a strange route only to discover that the road that he was planning on taking was closed. So we essentially went in a big circle before we actually were on our way to the airport. Second, there was a lot more traffic than usual because of the Book Fair. We were probably held up for half an hour. We got to the airport around 8:50, our flight was leaving at 9:10. We ran through the check-in area with our backpacks bouncing on our backs, hoping that the flight was further delayed, which often happens at the Kolkata airport. But of course tonight, everything had ran smoothly and the AirIndia gate was closed when we got there. The AirIndia employees made it very clear that there was no way of getting on that plane.
We went immediately to the AirInda desk to see what our options were. Our situation felt urgent and the man at the desk seemed to work slower than a snail moving through a puddle of molasses. First he punched at the keyboard of his computer for a long period of time saying nothing. Then he used basic arithmetic to add and subtract all of the airline fees and determine how much we would end up paying for the new flight. We had to take a long break after all the calculations because his colleague had pulled out their dinner tiffin. We pleaded with one of the airport guards to let us go into the departure section to get some sandwiches.
After our respective dinner breaks, there was more typing and hand arithmetic. He even left his desk to go and speak with the manager. And thank goodness he did. In speaking with the manager, our unhurried friend was able to provide us with two rescheduled seats on a flight to and from Delhi for no extra cost. We are going to Agra in two weeks. It may be a little warmer, but I don’t really care. I’m just hoping that everything goes as planned.