i am trying very hard here in this post to see the humor in the entire episode, so help me along by laughing with me :-D
in my attempt to surprise myself, i reach the airport about 4 hours before my scheduled flight (jet lite S2109 from delhi, etd 2020). (my wife will shake her head in exasperation and say something like, 'why does it always have be either extreme'?) the lady at the check-in counter serves me with a smile and refuses to accommodate me in the earlier flight. i smile back at her, but i think the sub-text is lost on her. she instead chooses to smile at the next passenger in the queue.
over the next few hours i have managed to look at all the shops in the concourse, eat and drink as much as i could, finish reading the book i am carrying (the calcutta chromosome by amitav ghosh), read all the possible complimentary newspapers including the delhi times (and if you thought the mumbai times is pathetic, think again!).
and then i notice that all the flights are running about an hour late. only one of the airlines believes it necessary to make regular announcements that the flights are delayed because of congestion at the airport. (no prizes for guessing which airline it is). after some time i think the announcer was too exhausted to make any more announcements. and the person operating the controls for the display board also has lost interest in updating the revised times.
i sat and watched life pass me by. no actually, i watched passengers of all other flights stream by and depart for their respective destinations. and then finally i board my flight about 2.5 hours after the scheduled time.
and if you thought with that my travails ended, keep thinking again. it took another 15 minutes before we got clearance from the atc (air traffic control). that was after the initial 10 minutes lost in trying to trace one passenger who seemed to have disappeared. (my bet was that he was blissfully sleeping in some corner of the airport.)
and then finally we got airborne with the shrill engines reminding us of how well they have served humanity for a very long time! and then well into the flight the captain suddenly remembered that he had to apologise to us for 'all events beyond the airline's control'. and he ended his monologue by saying that he hoped to reach us to mumbai as planned unless 'the atc and events beyond his control' had other plans in mind for us!
after munching through some insipid fare being passed off as veg burgers and a cup-cake which had been pulled out of the oven before it was fully baked, we all decided to lean back and await our collective destiny which awaited us in mumbai.
and wonder of wonders! we landed in mumbai without any 'traffic congestion' or 'atc clearance' holding us up. but before we could start feeling amiable towards the airline, disaster struck. the plane taxied into its holding bay and then we had to wait for almost 15 minutes in the aircraft waiting for the ground staff to find the ladder for the aircraft! one of the passengers could be heard explaining very patiently to his wife that the ground staff seem to have lost their ladder and they are asking the passengers to either jump off the aircraft or sleep in in the aircraft until they found a ladder!
i finally reach home, at 2 am, three hours later than my scheduled time, tired and battle-worn, but glad to be back in one piece!