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Winging it “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” - Martin Buber, Philosopher

Final journey

INDIA | Monday, 10 March 2008 | Views [909] | Comments [2]

The foggy weather in Delhi caused many flight delays and when the plane from Varanasi finally arrives people rush to shed the confines of their belts, remove their overhead luggage and fill the aisles before the wheels even touch down . This always makes me laugh, as they still have so much waiting to do (like for the doors to open?). The lady in the row in front of me remains seated, holding her infant son asleep in her arms. I helped her with her bags as we boarded the plane and again I asked if she needed some help disembarking. I was pleasantly surprised to find that someone else had offered to help her - a bit of a novelty in India!

The plain spews its contents on to the tarmac and confused people mill around aimlessly, unable to see the terminal and unsure as to what to do next. A convoy of buses finally arrive and the press is on again to be the first on board. Those few of us who hang back are rewarded with the luxury and relative comfort of an almost empty bus which trails closely behind the first two overcrowded buses. A swallow flies in the open window, alighting on the overhead handrail and tells the most amazing story as it hitch-hikes towards the terminal.

Now I don't want to bag out the airports in Delhi (domestic or international) as I doubt I will be the first. I will, however question the planning behind unloading the cargo of three flights onto one luggage carousel when others are empty. The crowd was packed four deep, all vying for optimal position and trolley room while watching the empty carousel circulate. I decided that it would be prudent to hang back and found a supportive pillar to prop against to wait. A few moments later, a middle aged Indian woman emerges from the fray with a near-audible 'pop'. She was looking a bit tense, tendrils of dark hair working their way free from her loose plait. Scanning over the tops of heads for some breathing space, she noticed an area next to me by the pillar and made her way towards it.
 I commented at what a good move it was to get out of there and she agreed, adding that she left her husband in there to get their bags. 'Good luck to him', I said and we laughed, looking at the impossibility of the situation. She had been travelling for 36 hours already and still had some way to go. She was taking her daughters ashes on their final journey to scatter in the holy Ganga at Rishikesh, the place of her birth.

She and her husband had emigrated to England with their two daughters 30 years ago. The youngest one had recently moved to Spain for work but had returned to England due to illness. Whilst back home, the daughter developed jaundice and by the time she was diagnosed with an auto immune disease her organs had began to shut down. She died shortly after from massive organ failure. At 34 years old she was planning to get married to her long time fiance in India later in the year. Mother and daughter had also planned a return to Rishikesh for a holiday before the wedding. Her composure broke at this point, I reached over to touch her hand and her fingers wrapped tightly around mine as if to avoid being swept away. Searching in my bag for a tissue, I could only produce a mean little fragment of napkin which I had stolen from a cafe earlier. I offered it to her apologetically and she laughed with relief, producing a more respectable packet of travel tissues which we then shared. Dabbing at our eyes we continued to talk about her daughter and it was evident how much she loved and cherished the time she had spent with her.
After a while her husband emerged with their luggage. We pressed our hands together one final time and said good bye as her husband gently wrapped an arm around her shoulders and drew her towards the waiting evening.  

I hope that they find peace in their final journey.

Tags: people



Yeah! Surely one prays that they find peace in their final journey.

Good piece Tash. Could almost visualise the passengers getting up from their seats in a just landed aircraft and standing to disembark for next 17 minutes! :)

And all the chaos at the airport.

Keep 'em coming!

  Leo Mar 18, 2008 2:24 AM


Ha, thanks Leo. I certainly had an amazing journey whilst in India, especially in Delhi. You 'll have to wait for the next installment for a while till I can take another break

  tash Mar 18, 2008 11:41 AM

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