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Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Odds

Prakash looked at his watch. It has been more than forty minutes since the scheduled departure time for his flight. There was no sign of the aircraft leaving the departure gate. The cabin was getting warmer. The flight attendants were busy handing out water bottles to the passengers who were getting increasingly impatient.

The PA system came alive with the captain making an announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for this morning's delay. Our ground staff have been attending to a technical snag trying to get this aircraft flying and have been unsuccessful. We have a standby aircraft and our staff will assist you in getting you boarded soon. Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience.”

The passengers got up murmuring and lined up to get off the plane.

Prakash was concerned about missing his connection flight to London from Mumbai. He was on his way to attend a due diligence meeting with a potential acquisition target that his company was considering.

* * * 
The flight touched down at Mumbai airport almost an hour and half delayed from what Prakash had planned. As soon as he got out, he headed towards the shuttle bus service to get to the international terminal. There was a small queue waiting there for the shuttle. Prakash was getting nervous about making his flight as he reckoned he would reach there less than thirty minutes prior to the departure of his London flight.

The agonizing wait was finally over as the passengers boarded the shuttle bus.

* * * 
Prakash got down from the shuttle at the international terminal and sprinted to the check-in counter. He was surprised that the check-in counters were all empty with no one at the desks except at one where a supervisor was finishing up her shift. He ran to that counter before she could get away.

“Hi, I am on the flight to London...”

“Sorry sir, boarding is closed! I can help you get on the next flight that leaves late tonight...”

“Look, my incoming flight from Chennai got delayed. It is very important that I get on that flight to London to attend a business meeting. There is still twenty-five minutes to departure. Can you do something?”

“No sir, I can't!”

Prakash was getting angry. But, he also realized that the only person in the entire world who could help him get on that plane was the lady in front of him.

“Please! Can you at least check if there is a possibility? I would be very grateful...”

The lady looked at him for a second of hesitation and then picked up the phone.

“I am going to check with the gate. If they have still not closed the gate, we can try...”

“Thank you!"

Prakash let a sigh of relief.

“Okay. The last few passengers are boarding the flight. I am going to upgrade your economy ticket to business class. You may have to run in order to make it before they close the door. Here's your boarding pass. Have a pleasant flight!”

“Thank you! You are a lifesaver...”

Prakash picked up his hand luggage and ran towards security. He thanked his stars for packing light without any check-in bags. The security lines were also empty. He breezed through it and ran towards the gate hoping to make it on time.

He finally reached the gate. The last three elderly passengers were boarding the plane.

‘Thank God for old people!’

Prakash finally was relieved. He stood at the end of the line wiping the sweat off his face.

A few minutes later, he was well settled in his seat smiling at the flight attendant who was serving him a welcome drink.


* * * 

The television channels were running the news about the crash non-stop. A red bulletin in the bottom of the screen announced a toll-free number that relatives could call to inquire status. The nation was shocked and sadness filled the air.

No one expected any survivors from the crash. So, it was indeed a miracle that one person out of the four hundred plus passengers on that fateful flight lived to tell the tale.

1 comments:

Susan Deborah said...

I will fall short of words to appreciate you. This was absolutely fantastic. You know how to keep the readers thrilled.

Joy always,
Susan

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