Travelling Alone – A Short Story

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Misha grumbled to herself as she boarded the Air India flight. “Why must we go to London again? We’ve already been there three times in the last five years. Why can’t we see a different part of Europe? Or, better yet- America?! Papa’s precious cricket is more important than anyone else’s wishes. He’ll enjoy watching the match at Lord’s Cricket ground, but what about me?! Hmmmph.”

It may have been easier if she didn’t have to travel alone. Papa, ever the smart businessman, saw the prices of tickets skyrocket around the dates of the Cricket World Cup 2019, and booked himself and mumma on an earlier, cheaper flight, while she stayed back in Delhi’s heat to finish her college exams. Her parents would enjoy living in her tauji’s London home, while she only had her grandfather for company. “Hmmmmmmph!”

Making her way through the crowded aisle, she groaned when she saw that she had been assigned the middle seat. A fat uncleji had spread himself across the aisle seat and was snoring away, while a dumpy lady was busy reapplying her lipstick at the window seat. On the other side, a young couple loudly attempted to force-feed ghee-laden parathas to their fussy toddler. Misha rolled her eyes, it was going to be a lonnnnng flight.

Stowing her carry-on in the luggage rack above, she artistically manoeuvred to her seat, plugged in her headphones, and began snacking on the cookies she had bought at the airport.

Ten minutes later, a smart air hostess tried to catch Misha’s attention. Reluctantly taking her headphones off, she asked, “Are you talking to me?”

“Yes ma’am, would you please come with me?”

Alarmed, Misha started, “What’s wrong? Is there a problem with my luggage?”

The air hostess refused to disclose details. “Please come with me ma’am. I will explain everything to you. Oh, and please bring all your belongings with you.”

People were beginning to look at Misha. If there was one thing she hated, it was being the center of attention. Dusting off cookie crumbs from her lap, she wondered what the problem could be. She had never travelled alone and was terrified that something would go wrong. Taking her mother’s advice, she had dressed in a simple white t-shirt with black slacks, but threw her sleeveless waistcoat on for a dash of personal style. Now the t-shirt was crumpled, had a visible brown coffee stain, and the waistcoat looked out of place. “Messy Misha getting in trouble as always”, she thought to herself.

Trying not to make a scene, she grabbed her stuff, and quietly followed the sari-clad stewardess.

“Ma’am…”, began the air hostess once they were alone, but was immediately interrupted by the crackling noise of the microphone.

Welcome on board, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I’m sorry to announce that our departure has been delayed due to unexpected rainfall.”

“Rainfall, what rainfall?”, Misha peered at the nearest window. The skies had been clear when she arrived at the airport, but a sudden squall was making the rain pelt down hard. How strange, it doesn’t usually rain in May!

“Ma’am, as I was saying…”, the air hostess beckoned to Misha.

“Listen, I’m travelling alone and I’m really worried. What did I do wrong?”. Misha hoped that playing the ‘kid-travelling-alone’ card would help her.

“Ma’am, you have done nothing wrong! Since you are travelling on your own, and Economy Class is full to capacity, you are being upgraded to Business Class.”

“What? Really? That happens?” Misha couldn’t believe her luck!

Smiling, the air hostess replied, “Yes of course it does. Come this way please.”

Across the curtain, the air smelt different. There was ample space to walk between seats, comfortable chairs that reclined fully, passengers sipping on little glasses of orange juice or champagne, and everyone, including the stewards, looked happier! It was Misha’s first time flying Business Class and she found it the epitome of luxury.

She was taken to the front of the cabin and assigned the aisle seat to the left. There was a passenger next to her, but he was busy looking at the frantic raindrops slashing the window.

Settling herself in, Misha pulled out the sizeable TV screen and was delighted to see the large selection of movies and shows.

“Excuse me miss, when will the flight take off?”, the passenger next to her addressed his question to the air hostess walking past. With half her attention on the list of films, Misha attempted to hear the answer. She wanted the plane to take off before they changed their mind and sent her back to Economy!

“I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience, sir. The captain believes we should be in the air in the next 10 minutes, as the shower has reduced in intensity. Is there anything I can do for you till then, Mr. Dhoni?”

Misha did a double take! Seated next to her, looking calm as can be, was the cricketing legend and ex-Captain of the Indian Cricket Team- Mahendra Singh Dhoni, himself!

“Oh my god, ohmygod, ohmigoddd.. you’re Dhoni!!”, she managed to squeak.

Quite amused, he extended his hand and said, “Hi! Yes, I’m Mahendra Dhoni. And you are?”

Horrified at how childish and star-struck she seemed, Misha swallowed hard and timidly took his proffered hand.

“But… didn’t you fly from Bombay yesterday with the team? I saw it in the newspaper today morning!… Oh, and I’m Misha… Misha Kaur”, she smiled sheepishly.

“I’m impressed, a young person that actually reads the newspaper! You must be quite smart. I was supposed to be on that plane, but my daughter requested I stay to watch her performance at school. All the boys were very understanding and helped to hide my absence. I’m flying a day late but I will be there for the team’s first public appearance in London tomorrow.”

“Wow that is so nice of you!! You just gained extra brownie points… not that you needed them,” smiled Misha.

“When you reach my age, you’ll realise the importance of family. The boys have become my family too, but my responsibility to my daughter comes first. Of course, this situation was easily manageable. It might have been different if her performance had been later.”

“Aren’t your wife and daughter accompanying you? Sorry if I’m asking too many questions… I don’t mean to intrude!”, said Misha.

“Hahaha, it’s ok. As a sports person in the public eye, I’m used to people being very familiar with me. And I don’t mind. It’s nice of you to ask…. They will join me next week, as we get closer to the matches. They are my lucky charms, you know. I would feel lost without them!”

“That’s so sweet. God bless you!”, Misha couldn’t help sounding like an old aunty, while she mulled on how affable and humble this icon of cricket was.

Just then the crackling reappeared. “Ladies and gentlemen, please accept my apologies for the delay. We will begin our departure shortly”.

As the stewards began the safety demonstrations, Misha settled in to her large leather seat for the most memorable plane journey of her life. She thought of her darling papa and his precious love for cricket. He would be met with a huge hug for choosing London as their holiday destination and letting Misha travel alone.

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This story was inspired by the picture prompt at the start of this post, and the cricket mania currently ruling Indians! The situation in this story is completely imagined, though I have used a real-life cricketing icon as a character. Any resemblance to any person, situation or incident (or movie scene as I have been told!) is purely coincidental.

Here’s to INDIAAAA, INDIAAAA! Let’s get that cup, ek aur baar!

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This blog is a part of the #BirthdayBlogTrain hosted by Gunjan Upadhyay http://tuggunmommy.com/ and Neha Sharma http://growingwithnemit.com/. I would like to thank Judy from www.theotherbraininc.com for introducing me to this blog train and would further like to introduce Shipra Trivedi from www.vibhuandme.com to share her take on the prompts.

*This is not a sponsored post.

**Featured image courtesy- www.metro.co.uk. Copyright in all content belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.

***If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my ebook “Tales From My Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthology” which can be downloaded for FREE for a limited time here.

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96 Thoughts

  1. Wow what a lovely surprise!! I don’t mind being in her place!! 😜 it’s so cute when kids are unhappy with what parents do and suddenly when things turn out in their favour, they love them so much!! Innocence at its best! Looking forward to getting the cup, ek aur baar!!!

    1. Yes yes yes

      These stories cheers me up

      Noor mam as you know you are my inspiration and i love to read you

      That is very very nicely crafted story

      Liked it

  2. Lovely take on the prompt. Loved reading it and had a smile on my face the minute she was upgraded to business class.

    1. Noor, you just made my morning start with a smile. I was smiling throughout the post. When the hostess asked Misha to come with her, I somehow guessed that she must have been upgraded as it has happened to me but the second part came to me as a surprise. That never happened. 🙂 I have expressed all the actions, emotions so beautifully. Loved it. Enjoyed it.

  3. Wow wow!!! This is so awesome story! Till the end, i was like you actually met him maybe. But it was imaginary! Though I totally enjoyed it. Parents rarely give permission to travel alone but this was so so good!

  4. Inspired by the picture prompt or the movie Dhoni?;)
    Hahaha…
    Beautiful capture of little Misha’s emotions, loved it❤️

      1. Yes, there’s a scene where heroine meets Dhoni for the first time in an airplane and doesn’t recognize him.

  5. Lovely take on the nice prompt and I was just imagining my kid there in that girl’s place. I promise, Dhoni would have got tired about the positives and negatives of his every move and heard enough about 3B that he could write a book.

  6. Wow noor what a story, I loved each and every moment of it. Your post recalled me my teen days when I had a craziness for cricket and always had a dream to meet my favorite cricketers. Indeed a great response to prompt. #birthdayblogtrain

  7. Wow, I really loved this story and I too was kinda nervous when the flight attendant asked her to follow her and come ahead.. But the surprise in the end was all worth it for sure.😉😊

  8. Brilliant write up, as always, Noor! Misha is one lucky girl, I wish if I could ever get that kind of upgrade 😀 I’m not much of a cricket fan but totally loved how you made your fiction connect with the present day affairs. Loved it!!!

  9. Travelling alone is a fun adventure.The unexpected surprise of meeting a sports icon made Misha even happier

  10. You are a great writer. Loved the way you have narrated the story. Misha was indeed lucky. Often we tend to think that its bad coz certain things didn’t go our way but little do we know that maybe a cool surprise is instored for us. So if things don’t go our way. We should stay positive and believe that its for better.Amazing storyline. 😊

  11. Life is better with these lovely little surprises, isn’t it? Such a fan-girl moment for Misha and a moment of silent gratitude for her father too. 🙂

  12. I can totally understand how she would have felt. Great to know that she was upgraded to business class. She must have enjoyed a lot

  13. If this is completely then it is really good…but i feel it has been inspired by some real events. Anyway…as always a smart crisp write up. Love your work. Keep flying on such flights 😀

  14. Aww this is a great read.. The use of real life cricketer makes one think if it is a non-fiction story and relatable too.. I know travelling in business class is like just wowww… 😀

  15. Sometimes the most unexpected people and circumstances make us realize the value of the most important things in life. Beautiful story. Love how you have kept in mind the picture prompts as well as the current cricket frenzy that has taken over the nation

  16. I am becoming fan of your posts. This is such a lovely story. As if I was there in place of the girl. I could feel the excitement of the girl when she met with Dhoni. I too had a similar experience. Although the celebrity was travelling in economy and is not much active these days. I was happy just to see him in real as all the time it was through TV only.

  17. Wow.. this is really wonderful.. I read the whole write up and girl , you have a really great imagination power.. Misha is the luckiest.. Awesome write up Noor .

    1. Hi dear, I have personally been upgraded once when I was traveling alone as a young girl but the Dhoni portion is completely imagined 🙂
      Also Misha’s family is completely imagined. I was traveling alone when I was studying abroad- so the situation was not the same!
      I’m glad you liked it and thank you for appreciating:)

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