|Snow wrecks havoc at London Heathrow|
Contrary to the countless predictions of the Met Office there was heavy snowfall. It not only crippled the transport system of the country, but also the day-to-day life of the people. Cars were stuck in traffic jams, trains were delayed and the biggest airport in the UK was shut. Royal Mail couldn’t deliver letters or packages and there were massive delays in the Christmas gifts being delivered. There were no fresh foods in the malls as the trucks carrying fresh food products were stuck on the motorways. I had never before seen long empty rows in the malls where fresh bread, milk and other products should have been.
Journeys that generally took about 2-3 hours by road, now took more than 10 hours. All the trains leading in and out of London were cancelled or delayed. As London is the epicentre, the whole country grinded to a halt. People were queuing outside St. Pancras railway station to get a Eurorail train. At one point the queue was almost a mile long and the staffs at the station had to work hard to give the people food and provide shelter against the freezing cold. But the real chaos was at London Heathrow, where around 3000-5000 people were stranded outside the airport as all the flights were cancelled. Even though the authorities were warning people not to come to the airport, there was no stopping the people from coming in the hope that their flight might take off. The airport authorities had to provide food, drinks and blankets to the people and security also had to intervene when some of them got drunk and started shouting and swearing at the staffs. But the worst was saved for the Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, as he had to face the wrath of the people. They complained about how such problems were happening every year and nothing was being done.
I was also one of those unlucky ones who got stuck at London because my flight was cancelled. But it was not my only problem. After the cancellation, I couldn’t get through to the airline as the phone lines were jammed. When I finally got through, all I could get out of them were apologies and sympathies, but no flight reservation. Now I have to wait for about 6-8 weeks to get a refund on my cancelled flight; so much for efficiency. I had like most Indians this idea of the West that everything is perfect there but I got to see the other side of the West we hardly know of and it isn’t pretty.