I should have known oh yes I should have known when lovely kind Barbara who does all our travel arrangements (amongst other many awesome things that makes our life fun and adventurous) sent me this message saying I should rush my ass or bring my butt real fast to the gate in Houston from where I would rest that very butt on that connecting flight to Chicago ....the flight had been scheduled to take off 15 minutes earlier than when booked . Which meant that I would have precisely 23 minutes to haul my ass from plane 1 to plane 2. Don't worry , she reassured me : I have you right up in the front and all you have to do is grab your backpack and your bag and just walk up to to the gate next door ..yeah they do keep these gates cheek by jowl .
And of course them gates at Houston were not cheek by jowl , but that a comes later . At New Orleans airport , although they found my ass neat and compact enough to accommodate in that tiny aircraft they were flying us to Houston in , United found my cabin bag a tad too bulky and so , despite my pleas about having to rush to catch my connecting flight ( no I ddi not use words ass or butt), out came the bright green tag and down went the cabin bag into the nether word of the plane's undercarriage with promises that it would back in my arms the minute we landed and I exited the plane in Houston.So with some fervent prayers directed in the direction I myself was headed , there was nothing to do but wait till one got to Houston . Which we did in 49 minutes flat as our flight captain announced proudly . But I knew that it still was at least 15 minutes not fast enough for if we landed at 6:33 the boarding had already begun at the other Gate at 6:26 ...and oh , we were landing in Terminal A we were told . I quickly fished out my Boarding Pass only to see I needed to board from Terminal C . As far removed from cheek by jowl as possible .
Already 6 precious minutes into boarding time and here I was cooling my heels in the freezing doorway where more than a dozen of us waited for the green tagged cabin bags to surface . By now I knew it was a lost cause but still as soon as my bright pink bag bobbed up, I was ready to grab it and RUN . Big time ass hauling needed to happen .
Ticket in hand , the monster coat over my arm , backpack on back and the pink one on its wheels , it was Terminal Link here I come . There were a couple of more harried hurrying passengers but most of them were New York and Boston bound and seemed rushed but not RUSHED.
You have to believe me when I tell you I RAN . And was there some distance to run. Houston airport is as big as anything else in Texas and I did Farhan Akhtar proud with my portrayal of the Flying Sikhni. Giding on to the escalator , climbing the moving steps , taking that sharp turn into the concourses and slipping smooth shouldered into the train and gasping in delight as it said , Next Stop , Terminal C . See, good things can happen too.
Out of the train , down the escalator , bag in hand again and yeah !!!! Gates C up right ahead .
Heart pounding now and chest heaving , those breaths short and hard upon each other I realised C1 was right there which meant another 17 to go . Have you tried running with a back pack , a cabin bag , a winter coat and a thumping heart Farhan? No . All you dragged behind you up there in Leh when you practised was a tyre or something . When you train for that film on Usain Bolt , take my advice and book Houston airport Ok?
By the time I puffed into C 18 I knew it was a lost cause for it was as deserted as the Dome in New Orleans after the Saints had gone marching by. No last of the passengers , no smiling , welcoming , hustling staff : but just the one grim visage with the stoic glance behind the counter .
I felt like I was right inside the pages of one of the paperbacks I keep for my inflight reading . As I ran up to the counter , bag, coat, scarf, and my optimism all trailing behind me and leaned over , I was one of those characters with a mission , panting and somehow getting my voice to not croak as I slapped my boarding pass and picture ID on the counter said , the flight to O Hare Ma'am ?
I am sure they must receive special training to not show any emotion . Here I am, doing a pretty good imitation of Secret Service agent on a mission impossible ( which his was anyway) but Ms Stoic is unmoved . Your flight has flown I am told . Whiteout me in it I fail to understand how it could ever have been my flight but that's it . My flight had flown and a fat lot of good my flying across the airport did me .
Ok well , it wasn't the end of the world . I found the United Help Desk and the lady there , a little more human than Ms Stoic , found me a seat on another plane to Chicago not too late in the day and even though she said , well no one's ever died in this airport when I said I almost died in all this flying and not eventually flying , she did have a bright twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face as she printed out my ticket .
And ok I found out that despite all the Drum and the Gumbos , the Catfish and the potatoes and the crab meat and the IPA s I had imbibed in New Orleans I was pretty fit still and sat down to catch my breath and have that morning cup of coffee that I had been craving for ever since sleep starved , I had left my hotel in New Orleans at the unearthly hour of 3:30 am.
I had earned that sweet cup of coffee and the moist cookie even though it must replaced all the calories I had burned ....well, you cannot win them all I guess .