The adventure began from here!
Well let me take back to that day again when my Boss called and asked me to fly to Kolkat. I was dead broke, my bank account showed meager 1500/- cash! I had no time to ponder about by finances. I had to travel. The tickets were no issue as they were booked on credit; I did a wise thing by calling the hotel where I was to stay and confirmed the fact that the hotel accepted credit card. So this made the 1500/- cash quite a big amount.
As I handed the credit card, the bellboy said that they would not accept credit card and I need to pay cash. My irritation, which otherwise remains passive amplified! I took the credit card and hurried towards the elevator. I wanted to speak to the manager. The elevator was out of order. I walked down three floors and as I reached the last ten stairs I was horrified to see the entire reception counter submerged! The water went knee deep and the people on the ground floor rooms had been shifted elsewhere. There was no electricity either. I had to report at the airport by 9.00 a.m and it was past seven thirty now. The nearest ATM was in Minto Park but there the water reached up till the waist. I was advised not to go. Time was running out and I decided to cancel my flight. That was the only thing I could do lest I miss my flight and burn some cash for not canceling the tickets too. But then how do I call! My mobile was not working; there was no electricity; the telephones went dead and I could not move out either. The bellboy I guess could feel the dilemma I was in and he handed me his cell phone. He said he would charge five bucks per call – outgoing or incoming and I agreed blindly to this deal! Besides the rickety cell phone with the most astounding ring tones I ever heard there was no other way I could communicate. I called home; boss (well in this order only) and airlines office to cancel my flight. And in the mean time the corridor on the first floor was turned into a reception counter. The printer was not squealing; rather every work was being done manually. Many got stranded. Some acted smart and checked out but they could never make it to the station or the airport and when they came back even the rooms were occupied! The plight of everyone was dismal. Good that I had not checked out. I knew I had the room to spend the night; yet I was tensed, as I didn’t know how to make my payments in cash! The dilemma still persisted. I went back to my room and I actually I had done a good thing by saving a bucket of water! I don’t know why I did! But I knew this is the only bucket of water I had to use for the next twenty-four hours! Someone knocked my door and it was just another bellboy who came to take order for lunch. Well! Since the kitchen was almost under water the lunch was the basic rice, dal and veggies. I tried to get some sleep but nothing could make my eyes or my mind rest. I went back to the first floor; peeped through the window. The level of water had not gone down nor the rains stopped. The Manager did not seem busy and we started chatting. In the due course I told the manger that in no way I could make cash payment until and unless I swam to the ATM counter at Minto Park! The manager devised one option and since there was nothing else I could do I agreed to his suggestion. He said that if I trusted him with my credit card he could swipe it elsewhere on his way back home and return it to me the next morning. Well! I know it’s not healthy to trust strangers you started speaking just ten minutes ago with your credit card but then what the heck!
I went back to my room, got my card and handed it to the Manager. It was late evening and almost everyone had gathered in the corridor and it seemed like we were one excursion team! Candles were lit everywhere. Every room was sanctioned two candles but I smuggled four. I cannot sleep when the room is pitch dark; I hoped the four would last me as long as I didn’t fell fast asleep. Dinner was no better. And I made it early to bed for I expected the worse for the next morning.
The next morning the knock on my door was my wake up call. I opened the door and saw one of the bellboys (who had given me his cell phone) with tea and my credit card and the settled bills. Suddenly everything seemed to fall in places. The rains hadn’t stopped, but the level of water had subsided. I knew I had to walk on the mud-spattered and grimy water hence taking a shower was out of question. Still in my shorts and tee and slippers I swaggered towards the main road and I negotiated with a cab driver to go to the airport. The driver asked me what time the flight was and I replied I didn’t have a ticket! I picked my bags and hopped in the cab. It took me around forty-five minutes to reach the airport. I checked the entire airline counters and booked the earliest flight back to Guwahati. As I handed my credit card I prayed and hope in the back of my mind nothing would go wrong and boy! It didn’t! I walked in though the security, checked in and as I looked at my watch I still had an hour at my disposal. I ordered for a cup of coffee and as I was waiting I for the coffee to arrive I realized that I was still tee/shorts & sandals clad! My baggage had already been checked; marked and sealed and there was nothing I could do but board the flight without trying to look too conscious!
As I took my seat and looked up The Telegraph it read that Kolkata witnessed heaviest downpour since 1971! I didn’t really want to read that news. I was trapped for twenty-four hours in hotel with my life thrown out of gear.
As the airplane ascended I reclined and closed my eyes and got calculating about my next training session scheduled to be in Nagaland within the next two days….