It was raining when I awoke today and it continued to drizzle throughout the rest of the morning. There was also a chill in the air in Thamel so I did not feel motivated to venture out too far. I had some tea at a cafe with good WiFi, where I reviewed my photos and caught up on my writing.
Periodically I heard gigantic booms of thunder that shook the windows and rattled tourists. All day the sky was a solid canopy of steel grey clouds sending down a steady light rain that ceased for a short time in the afternoon, then began again.
I arrived at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan airport about two hours early for my 4:30 p.m. flight to Bangalore, India, via Delhi. The airport was much more crowded than the day I arrived about four weeks ago, and it took about a half hour for me to make my way through the initial security screening and join the check-in line.
I was second in line when the Jet Airways check-in clerk suddenly looked up from his computer at the young American couple in front of me, wobbled his head in that uniquely Subcontinental way and said, “Please wait for some time.” With no further explanation he left his post and disappeared into the ether.
A few minutes later it seemed the other check-in staff and baggage handlers had stopped attending to their respective tasks and had begun chatting and sharing out biscuits with each other.
After about twenty minutes the American couple asked another airline staff member if he knew what had become of their check-in agent who had mysteriously disappeared. After being called back and asked by the couple why they had not been checked in, he explained by again doing the Subcontinental head wobble and saying, “Please wait for some time.” They politely pressed for more information, and he responded with, “Bad weather.” With a bit more courteous interrogation they were finally able to elicit from him that air traffic control was not allowing any flights to take off, and arriving flights were being diverted to other airports, due to the weather.
Only a handful of nearby passengers heard this explanation and several hundred others in the terminal apparently had no inkling of the status of their flights since there were no overhead announcements and the video monitors with information on arrivals and departures were equally tight-lipped if you will pardon the expression.
After “some time” (who can say how long we continued our trajectory on this particular warp in the space-time continuum?) a very dapper and smooth-talking Jet Airways employee told us there would be no flights leaving for the rest of the day, gave us a telephone number to call to re-book our flights, and sent us all packing — at least those of us who were close enough to hear him. The rest of the passengers in the terminal may have continued to be in the dark about the airport shutdown, and I do not know whether they are still waiting or whether they finally gave up and went back to wherever in Kathmandu they had come from, prior to arriving at the airport.