It was a summer afternoon in 1992. I was on an Indian Airlines flight in the western part of the country, when I felt that I was no more. The agonizing 5-7 minutes still terrifies me whenever I look back.
Marketing as a profession needs quite a bit of traveling. I was based in Calcutta, the Eastern part of the country. I was asked by my senior officer to accompany him while he was to visit a manufacturing facility in Baroda, situated at the extreme western part of the country.
We took a morning flight from Calcutta at 6 A.M. in the morning and touched Bombay (Mumbai, western India) at around 9.30 A.M. We were booked to a connecting flight to Baroda (Vadodara) to leave at 3.30 P.M. the same day. We finished our lunch at the airport and passed a tension free time during the free time.
We passed the security check in time and boarded the flight, which was a 30- 40 minutes flight.I took the window seat and my senior took the aisle seat. The plane took off nicely and smoothly. I watched out of my window as we were going over the Arabian Sea and would continue to do so before we took a right turn to Baroda.
Suddenly I found that the droning sound of the engine was unusually low and thought that the pilot must have found technical reasons to use only one engine. Then there was the announcement from the pilot in the public address system. His words were,” Ladies and gentlemen, I am your captain of this fight. We have been informed by the control that there is a bomb on board. We are returning to Bombay for a regular check, please don’t get panicky. I can assure you that there is no such thing on board and it is a hoax call only. Thank you.”
The moment, the announcement was complete, a terrifying fear gripped my senses. It could have been at any time- oh! What a situation! You could not do a thing but pray to God that it did not happen at all. I thought about my little children and tried to distract myself from the imagination of oncoming eventuality and of course, I prayed to my God for saving us from this situation. I looked out from the window and found that the airplane was moving at the slowest speed! Looking inside, I saw my senior colleague sitting in his seat with eyes closed. Most of my co-passengers had their eyes shut. The fair looking air hostess was in her seat in front of us with a blotted out face as if the entire blood has been withdrawn from her body. There was real pin drop silence except the low droning sound of the aircraft engine.
I could see the runway approaching but very slowly once again. The inner feeling was that it could happen at anytime, no? How could it be possible? The questions and answers crossed my mind many times and I was helpless and resorted to praying to my GOD.
Amidst this kind of mixed feeling, we touched the runway and a few minutes later disembarked from the plane and the first thing I did was to thank my God profoundly with full reverence.
A few hours later we were sitting at the departure lounge of the airport for a special flight to Baroda in the same evening.