Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ah, the joys of an Indian airport

If you have had the good fortune to be in an Indian airport even once, you would appreciate the unmatchable joy of such an experience. This blogger is uniquely qualified to ruminate on this topic, since he has spent a substantial proportion of his life in the confines of the aforementioned entity. Unfortunately he continues to indulge in this hobby , despite numerous new year resolves to escape from this magical experience. Readers who have specialized in weaning diehards away from their addictions may please email this writer.

The enjoyable experience begins with approaching the airport. As you near your drop off point, you see a traffic jam a mile long. This is because everybody coming before you has parked his car right in the middle and has begun the process of unloading humans and baggage of gargantuan proportions. The famous Rajalakshmi (she of the gargantuan proportions herself) finds the act of getting off from the car a feat that might challenge Nadia Comaneci, and therefore takes a full 9 minutes to complete this test of human flexibility. Then comes the 13 pieces of baggage without which an Indian wouldn’t be caught dead traveling. Having done all this, its perfectly OK to leave the car in the middle and walk off – only 5 minutes saar, solpa adjust maadi. End result, mile long traffic jam.

Indian travelers love to have at least a dozen people to come and bid them farewell . Farewells have to be long and done many times to prove your undying affection to the departing. Hence the traffic jam of people , about 2000 of them, thronging and blocking the entrance. A few are waving wildly and gesticulating comically through the glass at those who have already gone in. The others are all in the various phases of the “send off”. One bawling baby is being passed hand to hand for an affectionate and rather wet cuddle. Other 90+ year olds are having their feet touched, or receiving an endless stream who are falling flat at their feet . Tears are flowing copiously. The departing are repeating this process for every inch they move, somewhat like an infinite loop that the coder spends his life creating (the probability being very high that the departing specimen is a coder; excuse me, IT professional) . Much jostling and pushing. Somebody has just stepped on my toe. Another massive lady has lost her balance and has caught me in a rugby tackle. Much waving is going on – on an average the much loved departing hominid has to wave 1467 times – I am not exaggerating; this has been the subject of 13 separate Phd theses at Harvard ; academicians’ research is usually on such weighty topics.

As the enjoyment of this experience is only extended to a chosen few, Indian airports try their best to exclude the masses. This is done by a laborious checking of a ticket with an identity card at the entrance. Since the guy who checks it is obviously illiterate and since airline tickets come in myriad shapes and sizes, he takes about 27 minutes on an average to accomplish the said task. And since the addiction of enjoying the airport experience is desired by many of the millions who throng India, this activity leads to a serpentine queue where you can explore your fitness by standing for 42 minutes on one leg.

After 74 minutes of an absolutely riveting experience, and one full blog post later, I have finally been able to come to the entrance of the airport. The even greater joys of being in, now await me. To be continued ……. !!