India Uncut

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Monday, April 17, 2006

See the clouds!

After waiting 20 minutes in an Air Deccan queue early this morning, I had just reached the check-in counter and was about to ask for my usual emergency row seat -- more legroom and suchlike -- when a lady jumped the queue and slammed her reservation printout on the counter.

"Um, excuse me," I said, "there is a queue."

"There are two queues," she remarked forcefully.

"Er, what?" I said.

"Yes, there are two queues. You are in one queue and I am in the other."

I asked the girl behind the counter if there were two queues. "No," she replied, befuddled. "There's only one queue."

"No," insisted the lady. "There are two queues. There are always two queues!"

I looked her with profound pathos. "I regret to announce, Madam," I said, "that this is not Churchgate station."

Then I added, "And although it is not relevant, let me add that you have the build of an exceedingly unattractive hippo."

Ok, ok, I didn't say that last line. But I could have!

* * *

On the flight I didn't have either window or aisle, but a middle seat. An elderly gentleman came and sat next to me on the aisle seat. I realised that he was a first-time flier when he asked me how to fasten the seatbelt, which I duly showed him. Then, as the plane began motoring down the runaway, I heard something that sounded like a chant. He was sitting upright, completely stiff, and his hands were folded. "Jai Shree Ram," he said, not with fear but in awe.

As the plane took off and the ground left us, he stared past me out the window and chanted, "Jai Shree Ram. Jai Shree Raam. Jai Shree Raaaam."

I narrate this not to make fun of him: I was immensely excited the first time I got on a plane, as a kid, and I'm sure you were too. But as we travel and travel and travel, we get jaded and bored and used to it all. But now, thanks to this gentleman besides me, I felt that shiver, and a bit of that excitement. How fast this plane was going! How small all the houses looked! See the clouds!

And then at one point over the sea the plane dipped slightly and changed direction, and Mumbai's skyline was visible in the distance, beyond an expanse of water which glistened with sunlight. It was a wow! moment.

Then back to jadedness and inflight magazines.

* * *

At Delhi airport, as we queued up for prepaid cabs, I saw a Lufthansa sign which said, "Fly twice daily from Delhi to Frankfurt and Munich." And I thought, cool, I'll fly once, but how will I get back in time to fly the second time?
amit varma, 12:34 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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