Towards the end of my sojourn in Italy (refer to my post Viva Italia), I was working all kinds of hours and finally on a Friday, had the entire thing wrapped up. But by then, I was crazed for sleep and ready to nod off at a moment’s notice.

My flight to Trivandrum via Rome via Dubai via Bangalore ( makes me tired even to think of that flight itinerary now) from Naples was scheduled for 6:30 am the next day. And I was back in my hotel room from work by around 6 that Friday. I decided to take a nice leisurely bath, have dinner and then go to sleep, as I was supposed to be up at least by 3:30 in the morning to get ready and make it to the airport in time for 6:30 am flight to Rome.

I set my alarm clock for 3:30 and decided to nod off by reading one of the books I had brought along. I read…and I read….and I read…and I read till I was almost at the end of the book. That is when I ventured a look at my watch. It was 12 am. So much for getting a good night’s sleep.

Since I was very tired, and confident of my ability to wake up when the alarm rang, I thought I’d get some shut-eye and make up for the rest during the next day’s endless flights. And I conked out as soon as turned off the lights.

The next thing I remembered when I woke up was the time. IT WAS 5:00 AM !!!!!!!!! What happened to the alarm? Didn’t it ring? Did I turn it off? Alas! It will forever remain a mystery. But right then I had better things to do – like getting ready, checking out of the hotel, finding a cab, loading my trunks in the cab and then getting to the airport and embarking the flight (if the flight was still waiting around for me). I knew I was doomed!

Jumping out of bed, I hurried to brush my teeth, get dressed and get down to the lobby. Good thing I had packed my stuff last night. Else, I am certain I would have left half my things there in the hotel. Luckily, the receptionist found me a cab, completed the check-out very quickly and had me out of the hotel by 5:30am. Great! Exactly an hour for my flight to leave without me.

The cabbie was a nice guy and I think he understood my predicament. Since it was early morning, he was able to zip through the streets and get me to the airport in a mere 20 minutes.

And what greeted me at the airport was a looooooooong queue of people extending right outside the airport doors, all waiting to handover their luggage and receive their boarding pass from the Alitalia flight counter (which, incidentally, was the very flight I too needed to board).

On seeing this, I heaved a sigh of relief. Wow! With so many people waiting to board the flight, I was sure I wouldn’t be stranded by Alitalia. And I took my place at the back of the queue.

As I stood there, I happened to glance at the flight ticket of the guy in front of me. His flight was scheduled for 8 am! YIKES!! What on earth was he doing in my queue?? Then I hazarded a glance at the couple in front of him. They too were scheduled for the 8 am flight! Lord! Were there no ends to my trials just because I woke up a teeny bit late?

I hurried to the front of the queue. And I saw that even the passengers there supposed to be boarding flights at 7, 7:15 and so on. So that meant……………..That meant all my co-passengers had already boarded the flight!

I had the feeling that this was going to be a very very long day.

Now the time was 6:00 am and I was still on the wrong side of the airplane. However, though my flight was supposed to take off at 6:30am, the TVs at the airport still did not show the flight status as ‘Boarding’. That gave me a little hope. Maybe I would make out of this fiasco and reach Rome on my designated flight.

I changed my tactics. Though I didnt know any Italian beyond Ciao! Buongiorno and Buonasera, I tried asking the people in front whether I could stand at the head of the queue as my flight was supposed to leave at 6:30. Guess they didn’t understand, because they didn’t pay the least attention to my mumblings. And to top it off, a lady who looked like an Alitalia official barked out some commands at me in Italian and pointed to the back of the queue. Hmppph. I will hate Dragon Lady for the rest of my life.

I was done with the niceties. It was do-or-die now. Either I get on that plane…….or I get on that plane. I did not have any other alternative. That was when I received a miracle. They were opening up a new Alitalia counter and calling out something in Italian. Who cares what they were saying. That counter was meant exclusively to get me on that flight. I rushed to it, after making sure the Dragon Lady was out of the picture.

They verified my Passport, took my luggage, handed me my Boarding pass and I was on my way to Rome.

Of course, the flight took off only by 7:30 am. Only after getting back home did I realise that this was a perfectly normal occurrence with Alitalia flights and that they never took off on time. I needn’t have worried so much and almost burst an artery in the process.

The rest of my itinerary went off pretty much on schedule, I had plenty of time at the Rome airport and relaxed there. Dubai also went off without a hitch. However, Bangalore was a different story.Which is a post for another time. Till then,