In our family, air travel is a rare commodity. The argument is, if we could travel overnight by train why spend money on flights. I wish to narrate an incident that occurred five years ago. My wife and I had to travel to Madurai from Chennai to attend a two-day program. My wife suggested that we fly. Her reasoning was that we could reduce our travel time and our children would not miss us much. Within me, I found her suggestion a bit uncomfortable, as I feared that these suggestions would over time progress into regular demands.

I somehow agreed that it would be a good idea to fly once in a while. So we booked a flight which cost us Rs.2000 each. The day of travel arrived. Our flight was at 6:30AM and we’d woken up in the early hours of the morning to finish some last minute packing. I had booked a taxi by then which was on its way to pick us up. My wife made frequent trips to the kitchen and back to our children’s room tying up many loose ends. Soon, the taxi driver called us to say he was waiting for us at the gate. We assured him that we would be there at the gate in two minutes. Just as we stepped out of our home, my wife abruptly turned and ran inside the house to check on the children and to say good-bye. This, she had to do by waking them up. From there she went into the kitchen to ensure that the stove was switched off. As we came towards the waiting car, the driver told us that he had to cancel the trip as our delay had exceeded his prescribed waiting time and suggested to us that we rebook. By now, we didn’t have any other option but to rebook. The next cab was seven minutes away. I looked at my watch to estimate and quickly added seven minutes plus the travel time and the walking time to the check-in counter. The cab finally arrived as we bundled in and reached the airport. We made a dash to the counter only to hear that the gate was closed. 

We looked at each other in terrible disappointment and did not know what to do. We were supposed to speak at the program in Madurai at 10am that very day. When we checked for the next flight, it was at 9.30 am and would cost Rs.11000 per ticket. Now our disappointment turned to anger. I was burning with anger at my wife’s dilly-dallying while getting ready in the morning. To my surprise, she too was angry with me for not helping her in putting the house in order before we left. We went ahead and booked tickets for the 9.30 am flight. While searching for a seat to sit with coffee cups in our hands, we were strategizing of how to fight over this coffee. The sequence of the entire morning now ran through our minds. It was then, that our thoughts arrived at a rather different conclusion. The fight we start now would continue for the next two days or more. This would ruin our whole trip including an expensive flight. This loss of money would mean nothing to us after a year or even a few months. This incident would turn into a joke in few years! With all this in mind, we decided we were not going fight over a matter as trivial as this. We smiled at each other and this time, it was genuine. It was then that we finally enjoyed a good coffee and spoke to the organizers at the event in Madurai. They understood our predicament and assured us that they were willing to reschedule our attendance to accommodate for the travel delay. In the end, the two days at Madurai turned out to be so pleasant, and to our surprise, with no trace of bitterness.

It is now five years past that travel incident. Looking back, it is all but a misadventure well enjoyed. Of course, the trip taught us some key lessons on keeping time. But the most important of all the lessons learned from that experience is … To fight or not to fight – is a mutual and conscious decision.


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