Our group of eight is flying from Nairobi to Oman, with a changeover at Abu Dhabi.
We have a two-hour gap for the changeover. Our flight from Nairobi takes off after a one-hour-fifteen-minute delay. We are not overly worried, we can still make it, we reassure ourselves. Pilots do make up for lost time, at least some part of it, we discuss.
The post-holiday weariness is evident in all our eyes. The energy we traveled with, the endless photographs we took, the curios we picked up, the local flavours that we experienced and wondered at, all these seem so far away now, though we’ve just wrapped up a wonderful holiday.
We board, and sleep on the long flight, a dreamless sleep of fatigue, punctuated by in-flight meals that our tired bodies require.
We land, and anxiety hits us as we have only about 40 minutes left to disembark, and board the next flight . But, we are going to take on this challenge, yes, we are.
There are a few passengers sharing our plight as we make a beeline for the exit. We charge out and run, our sleepy legs jolted awake with cruelty. Our razor sharp eyes blindly follow the transit boards.
Eight people racing, up escalators, down others, running on travellators, with duty free shops and boarding gates whizzing past. We are close, ten more minutes left. There is a long corridor stretching ahead and we run, run, run.
We are sure that when the ground staff see us, they will hold the flight.
Just as we turn a bend, a member of the ground staff from the airline waits for us, waving.
Relief pours out in rivulets of sweat as we run with a sense of purpose now.
When we reach him, he says, “Are you taking Flight so and so to Oman?”
Eight heads nod vigorously.
“Relax! The boarding gate is closed, and the flight is taxiing on the runway readying for take off. We are putting you on the earliest available flight, which is at 2.45 a.m tomorrow. Just another five hours”, he says.
We just broke some Olympic records in sprinting there! Eight indignant faces stare back at him, gasping for air.
We resign ourselves and settle down for the long wait. The laughter comes much later, as we recollect our sprint through the airport.