Mission Accomplished: How I Landed In Kolkata Amid Unlock 2.0
It was no less than a mission. My journey story to
Kolkata from Delhi amid unlock 2.0 calls for a recap. Overcoming my month-long dilemma, I managed to book a ticket to Kolkata for July 5.
Traveling in times of a global pandemic needs to be well-planned. Two days into my ticket-booking, Mamata-government wrote to the Centre asking to stop flights and trains from high-COVID cities to Bengal. No wonder, Delhi was one of them.
There began my worries. How long will the Centre take to revert? What if it nods to the Bengal government's proposal? What if my flight gets cancelled? A bunch of questions kept going through my mind. I gained confidence and succeeded in convincing myself. My flight was scheduled at 6 am, hence, I decided to reach the airport the previous night (July 4).
With the DGCA issuing a host of guidelines for air travel, my next task was akin to a school student preparing for her final exams. The tension of flight cancellation, fear of getting infected at the airport, the excitement of the first flight in a post-COVID era, the joy of meeting family - all clustered my mind at one go.
As I went through an elaborate session of assembling and packing on my day off, all I could think about was, what if the Centre comes up with an unfavorable decision. By then, I was already dreaming of my 'City of Joy', places to visit, things to shop, and people to meet after my 14-day home-quarantine.
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Following frequent calls from my panic-stricken parents who insisted on taking extra precautionary measures while travelling, I stepped out on my equipment gathering task. I bought myself a bottle of sanitizer with high alcohol content, gloves, and an expensive mask to avoid being questioned at any given point.
With lockdown having lifted, flight operations were running smoothly. Yet, I
was restless thinking of the prolonged travel, more so, on the Bengal
government's move of banning flights.
On July 4, a day ahead of my journey, I took print outs of my baggage tags, downloaded Arogya Setu app, and got the boarding pass on my mobile phone. I was all set, the 1700-odd kilometers between Kolkata and me didn't seem that much.
In the afternoon, not much to my surprise, Kolkata airport took to Twitter and announced that domestic flights from six cities including Delhi, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad will not be allowed to arrive at Kolkata airport for the next two weeks starting July 6.
I read the tweet again. July 6, right? I asked myself, realizing that I dodged the evil just by a day. I would probably be able to reach Kolkata in the nick of time. Soon, I started receiving calls from my parents and other family members. My message box only had texts confirming my journey date. I was saved.
As the hour of my journey to the airport arrived, as planned, I called a cab and set off for the real task - mission Delhi to Kolkata. Impressively, the driver had a transparent protective shield all around his seat. I got into the cab and suddenly I started getting flashes of memories in Delhi. Knowing my journey to Kolkata this time is probably for an indefinite period, I already started to miss Delhi, my workplace. The Chinese joint in my locality, sleepovers with friends, and the familiar rickshaw puller at the stand - my bonding with Delhi is more like an acquired taste.
My nostalgia was interrupted when the cab was suddenly pulled over. I had reached the airport. A quick glance at my watch, it showed 11:30 and off I went. Armed with a mask and gloves, I proceeded towards the entry gate and sanitized my trolley and bag-pack before walking-in. Entering the terminal, I figured that the check-in procedure for my flight would take at least 2 hours more. No luck to get hold of a recliner for the night. Grabbing a chair and resorting to Netflix seemed to be the only option.
I strolled to an eating joint at the airport and grabbed a box of snacks. With no strict checking and no need for an arogyasetu app, the scene at the airport was similar to that of a railway station. While some were sitting on the floor, many of the travellers were fast asleep.
After check-in and security check, to my surprise, I managed a recliner close to my boarding gate. It was pouring heavily. Delhi perhaps was smelling the season's monsoon after a long due. The showers were bidding me goodbye. My eyes couldn't take it any further. With the chilled air conditioning on, I could only manage a few distracted naps.
My phone's alarm struck at 5 am. I pulled myself up from the recliner and walked towards the boarding gate. A queue was already formed with a few chirping in my native language. Ah! I'm almost through. I already feel home. I was allotted a window seat, therefore, no protective apron. The middle-seat passengers were made to wear an apron, in addition.
Cladded in mask, gloves and an added face shield by the airline, there I go, I was boarding my flight to Kolkata. I was overwhelmed. The mission was to end in another two hours. At 8:15 am on July 5, I landed in my city - my very own Kolkata.
The journey that had appeared like a high-level mission, ended up being a fairly decent one. And before I could know it, I was gearing up for work - work from 'actual' home.