Leaving Mumbai could not have been more straight forward. Taxi, check in and off, arriving in Doha less than four hours later. Being aware that i had an eleven hour stop over in-between flights i took myself off to a darkened room, lay on a moon- lounger and slept. Now only nine hours to wait. I move from bed to chair. From chair to bed and back again. Six hours left. Another visit to the smoking room.
Meal tokens from Qatar airways were intended to provide some entertainment but didn’t. Duty free was expensive and the warm desert sun beating through the glass onto my frozen air con skin frustrating. ” There is no way i am eating that as my last meal of eight months travel “.
A small bottle of vodka sets me back the five euro’s i find deep in my money belt. I find a cup, some ice and soda. Half a bottle later and three hours left to wait. Another cigarette.
Arabs swishing around in their beautiful robes, head wear and shades…..for me, one accessory too many, but for them not. So many looking so cool, funky, stylish. Men in shades, beards, head scarfs and dresses….such a good look. 2:55 minutes left.
I settle back onto the moon- lounger for another hour, wander, smoke, check the signs and head to the gate. Only one hour and twenty-three minutes left to wait. Boarding London Heathrow.
Finally i am seated on the craft, prepared to land in London at 10 PM and check into a warm, cosy hotel with a bath tub. Before taking the train to Durham, a further four hours from London.
The craft revs up. The safety/security video finishes and cabin crew take seats for take off. Shokran.
The craft circles the runway three times, the pilot announces a small safety issue with a speaker and we are instructed to stay seated until the engineer has fixed the reason for our delay. Almost two hours later we are instructed to disembark. Without a bloody mary or a hot face towel.
Aeroplane broken and there is no way we would make it to Heathrow before their midnight landing curfew. Another visit to the smoking room.
The options are this. More meal vouchers and a flight in eight hours time OR more meal vouchers and a flight in eight hours time. I opt for the second option…..NOT.
By this time i was disappointed and exhausted. There was nothing to do in the airport but sit. I head off to find the manager of the Qatar Airways ground staff. I find her.
“Please madam can you help me; i was due to fly to London on the postponed craft and i have already been sitting in the airport for over eleven hours. I have a maggot infestation in my left knee and i really need to get home” I cry.
The kind and understanding lady leads me to the first class lounge where i am able to rest until the flight arrives. REST??!! How can one rest in a first class lounge?
I find a seat before being approached by a member of staff. ” Good evening sir, may i get you anything”? “Two glasses of your finest red wine please, and may i help myself to the buffet and free internet service” The answer is YES.
Hummus, olives, a heady herby salad of parsley, coriander and lemon. Pitta. All the delicious treats you would expect from the middle east away from an economy meal ticket transit voucher counter. It’s so surprising how a bottle of red wine and waiting in a luxurious environment can make the time fly faster. Another cigarette, but this time i use a crystal ash tray. All of a sudden i am called to the gate, board and fly. Later than expected, drunker than expected but finally i am out of stationary transit, the UK fast approaching, nine hours later than expected.