Ladakh day 1: Nothing “Spicy” about it

30 June 2011

“The fuel leak has been confirmed. This flight cannot take off. Please deplane. ”were the words of the captain. This was not the way I expected the trip to start!! The Spice Jet aircraft to New Delhi was all set to take off when we heard this announcement. To our luck, the leak was not detected while flying.

With no inputs from anyone from the airline, the carefully planned trip of Ladakh seemed to be in jeopardy. The trip to Ladakh was planned four months before. We had been busy in planning various routes, taking to several travel agents, reducing the cost (Ladakh trips are expensive!!) and booking tickets.

The airline buses took us to the exit gate which leads to the arrival hall. After few minutes, we were standing at the airline counter to get a new boarding pass. That was quickly received but it had no information about the flight schedule!! The airline staff simply had no idea to handle such situation. “Pass the security and wait at gate 3” was their answer. And we went through the security check again!!

There was no staff at the gate. We just sat down and starting discussing various options that we could consider in case if we miss our evening bus to Manali. The bus was at 6:30PM and still we had lot of buffer time. But with uncertainty over the flights, things could go wrong.

Few people fed up with waiting started making noises. Finally, airline staff was in action. People with no check in bags were put into another flight. We did not fall into that category.

There was another flight scheduled at 11:20AM and it was decided to put the remaining people in that flight. It took quite some time to get the seat numbers for all people and to start boarding. At the tarmac, our checks in bags were kept for identification. All this led to further delay.

We congratulated ourselves for starting the trip on a weekday. On weekends, flights are normally full making it difficult to accommodate in other planes.

A new drama unfolded inside the plane. The airline had very limited stock of food. Airhostesses were clueless on what needs to be done. With some struggle, they found some cup noodles and offered the same to hungry passengers. I never imagined that I would be eating cup noodles in flight!!

T1 terminal at New Delhi is a mess. It took a long time to get the check in baggage.

The HPTDC bus to Manali was to depart from Connaught place. Taking a taxi was not a good idea considering the traffic jams in New Delhi. Hence, we opted for Metro train.

But Murphy was in full action on that day. The Metro train seemed to go extremely slow. I had been on several metros but none of them went so slow. Even a road engine goes faster!! An announcement is heard “Due to some problem, there will be delay in Metro service!!” What a day!!

After some time, the train starts to go at respectable speed. Our stop was at Rajeev chowk, a major junction. People outside were trying to get into the train unmindful that there will be people getting down. Police were deployed to control the mad crowd. What a shame!!

We get out of station and hire an auto to cover the last km. And in the middle of the journey auto stops and does not start!! After several tries, it makes a sound and then gets into action. That was the final hiccup!!

We were just in time for the Manali bus!! Ladakh dreams were about to start!!!!
Pangong Tso in Ladakh

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