After travelling for 30+ hours I landed in India and had a 10 hour layover at Kolkata airport. I try to connect online at every airport, yet I needed an Indian phone number to connect, so I was offline trusting everything was going according to plan.
Little did I know...
It took me a couple of hours to sort my onward flight to Sydney and after numerous conversations and official interactions with guards packing heavy weapons finally I had a ticket to Australia.
Another 3 hours later and I could finally check in for my flight to Bogdagra in West Bengal. I made my way to the gate for boarding and was charging my laptop and phone when a gentleman sat beside me, tapped me on the shoulder, showed me a photo of myself and asked, "This you"?
Granted by this stage I had been travelling economy for 43 hours and looked like a tired washed out version of the happy golfer I was looking at. I nodded and smiled and had a chat to Mintu, the pro from Kolkata who was travelling with me to help teach the kids in Chalsa.
Mintu's English is very limited, so he phoned Danny Mamik, the producer of Tiger Woods of Bengal and my contact for the whole Indian program, and told me I had to speak to him. Danny was in a bit of a panic as the gentleman on the ground in Chalsa had told him that someone had died in a factory overnight and there was unrest in the village and it was unsafe to travel.
In fact they bluntly told me to not come here as they were not sure when the unrest would settle. Danny wanted me to cancel my flight but I looked at the board and it was 5 minutes from boarding. I spoke with Mintu not really sure what to do and he pointed to the board - the flight was now delayed by 45 mins. That settled it, I strode to the counter, told them what was happening and asked for our bags to be removed from the plane.
As this was happening another customer asked about the delay and the airline staff informed them the flight wasn't delayed, it was an error on the screen. My decision was already made and my bags were being pulled off the flight. While I want to help juniors golf all over the world, I don't plan travelling anywhere unsafe and Danny was very pleased to hear we were staying in Kolkata and not heading North.
He had me call the pro he was dealing with in Kolkata, called Indrijit. I got in touch with him and we will be running some clinics for disadvantaged juniors, right here in Kolkata, at Indrijit's own course, Tollygunge Club.
The golf club arranged for me to stay at a nearby guest house for a very good rate, and I arrived a hot stinking sweaty mess after a coordinated dance of crazy driving. If you've been to India, you'd understand. After showering, eating and napping, I cancelled flights, accommodation and am now looking forward to hitting the links here in Kolkata and having a golf chat about juniors in India with Indrijit tomorrow.