Catching flights & feelings

30th Nov 2020
Photo of Catching flights & feelings by Nisha Harbola

When my sister announced her decision to get married in the beginning of this year, it was a cause of loud cheers in the family. A wedding was to take place after exactly eleven years in our family, and so, after the initial this and that, the discussion dived directly on to the one thing that we were truly and devotedly interested in. What will we wear? Shopping applications' swipes remain our loyal witnesses.

Well anyhow, the initial buzz gave way to a little bit of chagrin, which soon got us tapping our nails and pursing our lips, as the virus decided to choose the same year to say hello. The loud Delhi wedding had to give way, and that is something none of us really complained about because... who wants to deal with two hundred relatives one doesn't get along with when you get away with dealing with only a fraction of those? As the days progressed and we reached the middle of the year, we soon realized waiting for Covid’s goodbye would be foolhardy, and so the plans had to adjust. And quickly. Enter... no wait - re-enter shopping apps. By now, they all know our sizes and preferences and stop wasting our time with useless recommendations. Almost to the point of screaming at us - "Nisha, just stop bothering us daily and buy these freaking shoes in hot pink. They go with your clothes."

Anyhow, the wedding meant travel to Delhi. After enough contemplation... well yeah obviously this needed thinking over because I had zero interest in getting a Covid test done.... I bought my tickets a day before the wedding, got my put-things-in-my-nose&throat test done, and rushed to the airport. Having read the precautions and steps taken by airlines and airports, and the travel involving Delhi and Mumbai international airports, which are both massive, my expectations jumped at an unreasonable high. The reality was, of course, hiding far away from the good-in-theory rules.

Here’s my list of what to expect when travelling by air within India, in these crazy times. In no particular order then,

1. Check the rules and guidelines. Issued by airport, airline, states you are travelling to. I’d suggest, as a safety measure, get a Covid test done before the travel. Because, misery loves company.

2. Keep the basics in place – mask, sanitizer, disinfectant spray, gloves… and you might think - wear the mask - is stating the obvious. And... wear the damn mask. Or, someone with a mind like mine will use their disinfectant spray all over you.

3. Moving on, with your mask back, let's be friends again. Keep the Aarogya Setu app downloaded. You might be asked to show the green status on the app to proceed further. Don't irritate the people behind you by downloading the app at that point. The curses won't feel great.

4. Mumbai airport is easy to proceed with boarding pass from the kiosk, in case you don’t have a print out and travel without check-in luggage. Delhi airport allows everything with mobile boarding pass, so that was a breeze.

5. The only bottleneck I faced was during security check at the Mumbai airport, where you’d be forgiven if you forgot we were in the middle of the pandemic. Imagine hordes of fellow travelers without any social distancing, jostling for space. This was pretty much the point where I muttered and cursed my decision to travel, my sister, the virus, bats and pretty much everything else.

Now that you have reached the boarding area, sit tight and pray hard that the seat next to you on the flight is empty, if you are travelling alone, or you’d need to invoke all the good karma from this and previous lives to keep your anxiety in check. Now smile because I am going to wish you - Happy travels!

Oh, and if you are wondering if I gave any marriage advice to the baby sister. Of course I did. All you need is love. But once in a while, a little chocolate cake goes a long way. To happy marriages !