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Doctor couple saved by daughter’s call

Shinjini Sanyal and her husband would have been on board the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur if their daughter had not called from Nepal to ask them to spend the weekend with her.

“We are currently in Dharan, Nepal, and feel so lucky that we were not on that flight,” Shinjini told Metro over phone from Nepal on Sunday.

Shinjini, a Siliguri-based gynaecologist, and her husband, an orthopaedic surgeon, were booked on flight MH370 to Beijing but cancelled their tickets a couple of weeks ago at daughter Sunetra’s behest.

Sunetra, who is studying medicine at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan, had called her parents to say that she would be free on the weekend they were to fly to Beijing and it would be great if they could come over.

The doctor couple had booked their tickets on the Malaysia Airlines flight around two months ago. They are to attend a medical conference at Hanoi, Vietnam, from March 13 to 15.

“Our cancelled visit to Beijing was to have been a short leisure trip ahead of the conference in Hanoi,” Shinjini said.

She and her husband had booked tickets on Malaysia Airlines flights from Delhi to Kuala Lumpur and from there to Beijing on Saturday. From Beijing, the Sanyals were to reach Hanoi closer to the date of the conference, a family member said.

The couple can’t thank their daughter enough for the call two weeks ago that made them alter their travel plans.

“She (Sunetra) wanted to spend the weekend with us. We decided that instead of going there (Beijing) early, we would spend time with our daughter,” Shinjini said.

On Sunday, they drove down from Siliguri to Dharan, a distance of nearly 170km that they covered in little more than three hours.

Shinjini’s parents in Calcutta did not know that their daughter and son-in-law had been booked on the flight that went missing when they saw the news on television.

“We only knew they were going to Kuala Lumpur and then to Hanoi for a conference,” said Shinjini’s 83-year-old father Uday Shankar Aurora, a general surgeon who retired from NRS Medical College and Hospital.

“We had asked them why they were going so early for the conference and my daughter told us they wanted to have a holiday,” said Aurora, a resident of Park Street.

On Saturday, around noon, Shinjini called her parents to inform them that she and her husband would have been on the Malaysia Airlines flight if it weren’t for their daughter.

“She told me that god has saved them,” said Joyoti, Shinjini’s mother.

After Shinjini and her husband cancelled the Malaysia Airlines tickets, they booked fresh tickets to Hanoi on Singapore Airlines. “They told us that Changi is a good airport and so they had re-booked themselves on Singapore Airline flights,” Joyoti said. “But we are still tense thinking about them taking a flight through that region.”