It was the morning of a festival that Indians variously celebrate as Makar Sankranti/ Lohri/ Pongal/ Bihu, a thanksgiving for the solar radiance that makes life on our planet possible. Driving through dense fog in the wee hours to Bengaluru International Airport did not however signal this warming presence. The young traveller’s father hoped it would dissipate before take-off time. But the sun continued to elude on the morning that hailed his return to our hemisphere. Aircrafts scheduled to land were diverted elsewhere. Our daughter’s flight for London which should have taken off at 7am departed at noon, ruling out her catching the onward flight to Los Angeles. She could only be accommodated on the next day’s schedule. Since it was a weather related delay, the airline’s call centre declined to confirm transit accommodation. The young lady practically howled at the prospect of an entire day holed up at Heathrow airport. Her parents could only counsel patience and the wisdom that hardship strengthens one’s spirit. We voiced the possibility from accumulated past experience of things “working out”, though we hadn’t a clue about how precisely this might happen.
The airline fortunately assumed its due obligations. Passengers who missed the day’s connections were granted a Visa on Arrival for the day (minus the rigorous screening of the usual process) and given hotel accommodation.
It could only get better for the weary traveller from there. Earlier she found it absurd that a mere airport touchdown in London would leave her without meeting up with her brother. The strange turn of events that gifted her a temporary visa and a day’s time in the city would indeed make it possible for the siblings to meet. Luckily, it was a weekend and the busy young man had a spot of time for his younger sister. They dined together with a shared zest for food. Time permitted the visitor a peek into his home and a stroll by the river Thames in the picturesque neighbourhood.
Back on her college campus after an untroubled onward journey, a previously peevish young lady seemed delighted with how inconvenience yielded to the unexpectedly pleasant. Things hadn’t just worked out; the surprise element in the situation was a blissful bonanza. Equally, her parents were vindicated in their wisdom, not just in that instance but as a larger lesson on going forward with patience and hope through life’s tricky situations. All personal journeys undertaken with courage and confidence enjoy their own illuminations.
And I think to myself …the sun smiles behind the fog…
– GISELLE MEHTA