Please do not travel unless it is absolutely essential, this is the message I have been propagating along the line of the instructions from the authorities dealing with national emergency of the epidemic.
We knew my daughter is expecting her second child , end of August and she is in Kamand, Mandi in himachal pradesh. We were expecting things to improve and the locks to be open by July and we can travel by then.
Well that’s not the way it is happening and now we are not in a position to predict. One week when it looks things are easing, next week it starts rising.
With the domestic flights resuming its operation, though restricted, we started looking for a safe slot to travel rather waiting for August.
My daughter applied for an epass for us to enter himachal pradesh. In a weeks time the pass is issued and our tickets gets booked for June the 15th. The arrangement is I board from Kochi gets a connecting flight to Chandigarh and my spouse joins me from Bangalore.
Since my flight is at 5.40,am, I have to leave home at 2.30 a.m to report for check in 2 hours before schedule.
I am at Kochi airport, with one checkin baggage (only one allowed, maxm 20 kg) and a back pack (limited to 7 kg) at 3.30 am, with a mask on. Unlike our regular days, no crowd for see off, only travellers qued up maintaing a safe distance from the person in front.
There are 3 officials seated before the entry who asks you about general health and points a gun (I do not know its technical name) to your forehead and measures your temperature and issues a bored looking certificate that says no symptoms of Covid 19.
Just at the gate there is glass cubicle or separator where you show your ticket or boarding pass. They read it through a camera displayed on a screen. Your Id card ? Here. Pull down your mask, checked, go and you enter and walkthrough a wooden enclosure. Inside the enclosure, there is an instruction that says please stand here for 15 seconds. I dont know what was happening there, no sound or light signal. Everything is so silent people are talking in whispers some distance away. I am standing there wondering, waiting for someone to shout, enough standing, now move. Nothing of the sort, I guessed I have been here for more than 15 seconds and moved towards the checkin counter. There is a que, it seems the counter is far away, due to the distancing factor. Within 10 minutes, you are at the counter, lifting your luggage to place it on the conveyor belt, oops 0.6 kg excess. No problem, here’s your boarding pass from kochi to Bangalore to chandigarh.
Security check, put every thing on to this tray, along with your belt. What about shoes ? He looks at it, says not necessary, there should not be beeps while checking.
Everything looked tense all around, I joked with him what about my pant there is a zip, not sure whether it will beep, and pretended to open in case he says so. He smiled and says, koi bath nahin ( its ok).
Went through the security check without beeping and walked to the boarding gate.
At the boarding gate, lots of them seated and some standing. They had a mask on, face protection shield and some of them had a white plastic coat from the neck down to between the knee and feet.
There was a counter, he looked at my boarding pass, gave me a mask and a face shield. I asked him about the privileged ones who are wearing a white coat, why the discrimination. They have their seats in the middle row. Woakay.
Its boarding time, here we go. A bus to drop us at aeroplane.
Discipline maintained and we are on our seats, mine a window seat. I lean towards the left, my head almost out of the aircraft, the guy in the middle is not wearing the plastic cloth. I noticed the guy on the aisle seat is leaning towards his right, half into the walkway. Distancing at it’s best.
no time I was off to sleep. I wake up when I get the first thud of the touchdown in Bangalore.
One job less here, nothing to do at check in counter, only security check for the next leg of the journey. Security check over, a long walk to gate 1, for the Indigo flight to chandigarh.
My partner (spouse) joins me at round 8, after 3 months. We have a three hour wait for the next flight. It’s ok, nobody is in a hurry.
Well on time, we take off to chandigarh and lands around 1.45 pm. Our seats were a window and aisle separated by an empty middle.
There is a small anxiety, about the regulations, here also a gun on the forehead , checking for temperature, pass.
We walk out of the airport to a waiting cab with Mr Balbir, mask on, at the wheel and are off to Mandi. No plans to stop on the way unless stopped. Food from home to avoid outside food.
After two hours, we reach the Punjab-Himachal border. Stop. Where are you coming from ? Are you together? Yes, from Bangalore.
They were talking in hindi and gave us a form to be filled. The form was in hindi with a whole lot of blanks, I wrote Bangalore as city name and Kochi as the district by mistake. We had told them we came by Bangalore flight which was true and did not stress about Kochi. It can lead to a lengthy discussion explaining why husband from Kochi and wife from Bangalore, though I mentioned Kochi in the form and both these places were not red zone areas. With adhaar card as ID and our epass, we were through.
Another hour, one more stop, another district border. Here they wanted to know where are we going and staying,
Who has invited us.
We said we had the director’s permission. What is his number ? I simplified it by giving my son in laws number, associate professor. They called him, for them the director and asked him about us. He said we are coming to his place. After a few minutes, I took out the pass, he said no need, I have spoken to the director, you can go.
8.30 at night, we reach the campus and are straight off, driven to quarantine centre, a one bedroom flat on the ground floor. After some formalities, we moved into the room and started our happy quarantine days
There is a balcony with lovely view of the hills and sky.
Everyday there is someone from the health centre asking about our throat, nose, whether they are behaving well.
You may be wondering, why this talk of an uneventful travel. It was a travel full of suspense, through a silent cross fire and have to wait to know whether we were hit or missed by the enemy. This is to share the scenes of the travel under constraints.
Travel only if you must, while we are enjoying happy quarantine days
My Pranam to every individual from the cab drivers , to the airport services, to the border security, quarantine centre staff, doctors for making our journey a safe and successful one