At this age, it is really arduous to take a flight at 1.45AM. We prefer Air India as it is a straight flight of a little over fourteen hours, and it departs at this early hours. We are to leave our Noida house at least three hours before the departure time from Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi.
The driver of Jalandhar Taxi reported at 9.00PM of July 11. It took some time to lock the house and come out. The family of the neighbour was at the gate to see us off. Interestingly, they had come to know about the same day.
I have left the the security of the house this time to Shiv Kumar, the field officer of one of the many security companies that have flourished in Noida. Most of the security men that these security companies engage are neither trained nor physically very able. Shiv Kumar is charging Rs 12,000 per month. Thus I shall be spending Rs 48, 000 for the four months that I shall be away from the house. Shiv Kumar had requested me to provide my contact phone number in US, but I refused asking not to disturb me in any condition. I shall not like to take any tension when I can’t help.
I had asked the airline for a wheel chair for Yamuna. This time I found all the persons pushing the wheel chair very young unlike the crooked one that we got last year. It’s a big help in getting through the various queues for the different checks at the airport because of the special attention it gets.
Waiting outside the departure gate 22 and then 24 was torturous. For ensuring security, additional security check has been added just before the departure lounge that started only at 11.45PM. As arranged by Rajesh we had got 29b and c seats. But when it appeared that many seats would remain vacant, I asked the steward if I could use the middle row of three seats and sleep if no passengers reported for it, he agreed. Yamuna was also offered one such facility. And so after the snack provided by the air
line staffs, I slept. It was already 2.30 AM but slept well upto 7.30 Am IST. Quite a good number of passengers could get similar seats for sleeping. Commercially it must be very poor for Air India. Strangely, though the flight was for New York, there were hardly any white Americans in it. Perhaps Air India is not considered worth travelling by them. Quite a large number of the passengers were persons like us perhaps going to US to stay with their children. The rest were perhaps those who had been visiting India during marriage season to attend some marriages in the family.
Another strange thing that I noticed while sleeping was the regular announcements of bad weather and request to fasten the belt, though none was complying. How can one sleeping on three seats do that. I don’t know if it happens in the same way in foreign airlines too. With nothing much to read and as I never liked to watch the TV, I preferred to jot down this note.
Air India served snack, breakfast and then lunch, and all were of good quality. But it was difficult to enjoy it at odd time of the night and when you don’t know the time.
At JFK NewYork airport, the decision of taking a wheel chair for Yamuna has been very helpful. I still walk along with her but get all advantage of special treatment at immigration checks and even in security checks. We were overjoyed after finding Tom waiting for us in the meeting place at JFK. Rajesh had engaged Tom for helping us getting transferred to terminal 8 from terminal 4 where Air India had brought us. Tom made the transfer fast and without trouble. Tom almost did what Rajesh did when we had visited last time. Tom was very good.
We had a great experience at terminal 8 where we met two ladies from Kolkata. Anuradha, a scientist at SNBose Institute was going to Boston to attend a conference where she was to present her paper. The other lady was a doctor educated from RGKar College and her husband was working in Boston. Both the ladies came on their own and started talking with us. I felt so good when Anuradha touched my feet before leaving for her flight. I wished her t o become a great scientist. Anuradha has already found a suitable match for her in her institutes itself and will be married in coming December.
And after awaiting for almost five hours or more, finally we got into small American Airlines Eagle aircraft to come to Raleigh where Zach and Anand received us. All tiredness vanished.
We are here in US for the next four months.