The tuk-tuk is weaving through the vehicles on the road.
We’re currently passing through a section of the road which is under construction. The tricycle driver is deftly manoeuvring the handlebar as he navigates his way around potholes, and past the slow heavy trucks full of sand in front of us.
I’m in the backseat berating myself.
Ah, Mayowa! What is your problem??
Again?! Late for a flight again?!
My flight for Mumbai leaves in like twenty minutes.
No, that was like five minutes ago.
At this point the flight leaves in like fifteen minutes.
I am God-knows-how-far from the Udaipur airport.
I honestly don’t know why I keep finding myself in this situation.
I’ve realized that I just seem to have this tendency to miss flights, and I don’t know why.
I think I just haven’t learnt to respect flight departure times. I think that’s it.
My first ever flight – from Lagos to Dubai en route San Francisco about seven years ago, I was late. But I still managed to get on board before the plane departed. I think that experience gave me an exaggerated impression of how likely it is to still catch a flight, even when you get to the airport late.
And so for some reason I usually don’t feel a serious sense of urgency about flight departure schedules. I’m usually just living my life and doing whatever it is I’m doing, until it’s like last minute and then I begin to fumble to the airport in a self-berating fluster.
Since the Lagos-Dubai flight, I’ve been late for two other flights- both international. And I missed the both of them.
Now I’m late for another.
Well I’m definitely learning now. I’m definitely learning. This whole missing-flights trend has to stop.
It has to freaking stop.
“Ah, remember we still have to find an ATM! I need to withdraw some money – a HDFC ATM!”
I’m talking to the driver of the commercial tricycle. I don’t have the cash to pay him right now, and so I need to withdraw it from an ATM.
My first few days walking around Udaipur taught me that my debit card only worked with the HDFC bank. I learnt this after a string of frustrated attempts to withdraw money at the terminals of other banks.
Now I know right from the get-go that we need to find a HDFC. There’s no time for any experiments and even more frustration right now.
Now we’re on the highway. There are very few vehicles on the road, and so the coast is clear. Now we’re no longer weaving through vehicles, we’re just moving in a straight line.
At this point I realise that although the tricycle was great at manoeuvring tightly-packed roads, it’s just horrible on the highway. The top is speed is like – I don’t know, but it’s slow – it is very slow.
The engine is revving very loudly and I’m certain the driver is pushing the vehicle to its limits, but looking out the window it’s obvious we’re not moving all that quickly.
Ah! Man! I think I’m going to miss this flight. I don’t know if there’ still any hope.
“How far are we from the airport?”, I yell at the driver over the laboured revving of the tuk-tuk‘s engine.
“Not far! Not far! We we, we going!”, He responds to me in his jerky accented English, and gestures with one hand that the airport is just around the corner.
We spend some more time on the highway, and then he turns and drives off into some sort of compound-looking place.
I recognise the lush topiary and nicely trimmed hedges from my arrival at the airport like a week ago. We’re here. Finally.
We stop at the car park. I quickly pay the tuk-tuk driver and run into the departure hall.
The hall seems ominously quiet. There are just a few people here, and most of them are airport staff.
I walk up to one of them and tell him I have a flight to Mumbai in — let’s see — right about now.
He’s laughing. I think he’s laughing at me.
He’s laughing that I think the plane is still boarding.
He says the flight left a long time ago.
I really have to be more serious with flight schedules man. This situation does not make any sense.
I ask him what other options exist.
There’s another man standing next to him. Tall and light-skinned. He seems more compassionate. He’s not mocking me with his facial expressions.
He says it’s possible to get a train to Mumbai.
Ohh! A train! Interesting, I didn’t know that!
He brings out his phone and looks through the train station schedule. He says there’s a train that leaves later today. In a couple hours.
I ask for the price. He says it’s like four hundred rupees or something. He says I can even get it for lower, depending on the train class I decide to book.
Oh wow. India is really doing some great stuff with low-priced cross-country transportation. Wow.
Okay, I feel a bit relieved. There is another option. I don’t have to start thinking about paying money to book another flight to Mumbai. Okay. Okay.
I say thank you very much, and I head out of the airport.
I’m not entirely sure what my next step is going to be. I think I need to get back to the Backpacker hostel where I was last night. When I settle down and get my head together, then I’ll decide on what to do next.
Okay. Okay. This doesn’t seem all that bad.
I sling on my backpack and head towards the exit.
Image: Somewhere in Udaipur.