My Stopover in Chicago
Arrived Chicago after a long flight from Bombay via London. Was looking forward to meeting my daughter and her family in Nashville. I just had another hour of flying to do and I knew that, that time would fly! But providence had willed it otherwise.
When we landed in Chicago we were informed that the flight to Nashville along with so many more had been cancelled because of the storm in Chicago. We stood in line to get a fresh booking and hotels for accommodation. When my turn came I was shocked to learn that the airline was not willing to grant us accommodation because ‘they were not responsible for the storm!’
In the same breath the attendant said that I should ask British Airways to put me up because I was flying with them up to that point, and I was also booked with them on my flight back to India! I refused to do so as I felt that the BA responsibility was over the minute that we had landed safely in Chicago, besides I was too exhausted to carry myself and my 2 suitcases over to the British airways counter! The attendant handed me a list of hotels and asked me to call them and ask them if they would take me in for the night. I had made friends on the flight with an American girl who was married to an Indian. Her flight was taking off. Before leaving, she told me not allow the airline to get away with what they were doing to me!
I did not know what to do so I went forward and asked to see the manager! The attendant firmly informed me that all that they could do had been done for me and that I would have to wait for the manager to arrive. I knew that she was implying that the wait would be indefinite. The stress took its toll.
I just sobbed that what they were doing to me was not fair! Here I was tired from a grueling flight being told to fend for myself in the midst of a storm in a strange city in the dark of the night. My outburst did not go unnoticed by the other passengers. The scenario changed! A lady appeared from nowhere and told me that I would be looked after. She promised me a free stay in a leading hotel and escorted me to the bus of the hotel that would take me. How to describe the scene outside?
It was snowing and it was ‘winding’ (from the word wind). We stood in a shelter as passengers around us were slipping and falling in the ice that had formed from the snow. But the bus was nowhere in sight!
Was I glad that I had insisted that the only ‘kind’ assistant remain with me until I had safely boarded the bus! And she actually complied with my wish! Was it because her human tendencies came to the fore? Or had she been afraid of what reaction my outburst would have on the other nerve-wracked passengers? I will never know and frankly at that point of time I did not care!
She finally gave me a voucher for a taxi. Made me sit in it with another kind couple who was sharing the taxi with me. After she left me the driver claimed that he did not know which ‘Holiday Inn’ to take me to, as there were 3! I told him, that I had been told that the hotel was close to the airport.
Then the driver argued that he had been cheated as he had asked for an extra customer who wanted to go down town! Somehow he consented and drove me to the Holiday Inn.
I did not trust my luck that day, so I requested the kind couple to escort me to the hotel and drive off, only when I was convinced that I was assured a roof over my head for the night!
The above was the first part of my story!
Now comes the 2nd part!
Before leaving for Nashville I was toying with the idea of stopping over in Chicago, as I wanted to visit a temple. I had even asked my daughter if she would later accompany me for a day, during my visit in the States. Now that Providence had made me halt in Chicago, I wondered whether I would be able to visit the Temple.
I called the people who are in charge of the Temple who informed me that it was very unlikely that I would be able to do so as even if the storm cleared it would be almost impossible for the roads to be clear after such a heavy storm! My charming friend said "I will pray to the Lord for His perfect plan"!
My daughter called a friend of hers to look after me in Chicago (My daughter told me, when I called her after I had arrived in the hotel, the previous night, that she was anxiously waiting for my call to tell me that I would be taken care of!)
My daughter’s friend offered to drive me the next morning as far as she would be able to! The road was clear all the way to the Temple and we made it back to the airport in time for my flight! However the saga does not end here.
My flight was cancelled! For the next flight I did not have a confirmed booking. I trudged this time to the British Airways counter! I told the attendant that I had a long story to tell! I emphasized on the fact that I had not come to them the previous day for help, even though the local airline had told me to do so. May be that did it! They somehow booked me on the next flight.
The terminal was a long walk, and the time to the flight was short, so I missed that flight! Back again to a charming lady who, Thanks be to the Lord Almighty, gave me an OK for the next flight! Did not want to take any chances, so sat on the lounge way in advance. The flight was delayed!
Called my daughter!
10 minutes later, they announced that the flight was on time! Moved towards the plane in a daze! Made it to Nashville straight into my children’s relieved arms!
Moral of the story: There is always a silver lining to a Horror story.
Silver lining: Got to see the Temple against all odds!
Lesson: Just have faith. Don’t lose heart and persevere.
Am in Heaven now having a great time with my family!
Dal Sabzi for the Aatman
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