The travel agent assured me it would be easy. She booked my tickets, all I had to do was go to the Indian Airlines ticket counter in the Delhi airport, have my tickets printed, and pay for them. The reservation was there — what could be simpler?
Just about anything.
I left my luggage with a colleague. The driver who picked us up led me outside, up a flight of stairs, over some scaffolding, and down a narrow hallway. This was the ticket office? It was. I explained what I needed. The agent nodded and pointed for me to sit down. After sitting there for several minutes, the driver asked how long it would take. The agent explained he couldn’t issue tickets there, that he could only issue emergency tickets, of which mine was not. As we left the office, I wondered why he told me to sit down and wait.
After checking into the hotel and sleeping for a couple of hours, I booked a taxi to the Indian Airlines office in town. I entered and was handed a number. 80. I was ushered to a huge, dark room on the right. I noticed that number 64 was being helped. I settled in for a wait, determined not to get impatient. I listened to my iPod, took a nap, studied the men around me. Interesting, there were no women here. An hour and a half later, 80 was called. I walked up to the counter and smiled. I explained my needs, he shook his head and said, ‘Wrong room. International tickets are across the hall.” “But, but, but…” I stammered. “They told me to come here.” He looked at me and shrugged. “Sorry. You need to go across the hall.”
Lesson number one: India always wins.
I walked across the hall, where there was no number system. I worked my way up to one counter. The old, unengaged woman pointed to another counter. I went over there, trying to balance politeness and aggressiveness. The young woman pointed me to another counter. I went to that counter and simply stood there. When there was a vacant seat, I took it, expecting to be told to go somewhere else. But I wasn’t! The woman helped me for over 45 minutes, in between talking on the phone and chatting with co-workers. I couldn’t believe it took me over 3 hours to get three short segments of a flight issued that were already reserved.
However, I didn’t get upset. I simply remembered: India always wins.