Monday, 1 October 2007

Trippy Trip

This is not the simple story of a straightforward journey from point A to b and B to C. this story is about how fate and a lot of other factors can conspire to make as many obstacles as possible between you and your relatively humble aim of getting back home for xmas. of course, im not totally above blame either. master of planning that i am, i had this all chalked out weeks ago. the grand finale of my plan had me reaching home right on xmas eve, and then a weeks rest at home, followed by new years celebrations in b'lore. but since im not exactly known for executing my master plans, this one was doomed from the start too i guess. of course, telling y'all how my own fuckups prevented me from reachin home is no fun, really. its more fun putting blame on the rest of the factors... like my ticket for instance. at first look, a harmless piece of paper. but with such great potential for hiding amongst my worldly possessions that it would put a leftist guerilla to shame. or that security guard manning the x-ray machine. now there's a story for ya. i have a hunting kinfe, a rather cool one at that, on which i spent a good portion of my first ever paycheque. i carry it with me wherever i can, more as a good luck charm than with intent to attack. anwyay, i know for sure i am allowed to carry knives in my check in baggage, so i kept it there. and i got stopped by security. he asked me 'are you carrying a knife?' and im like, 'duh, you're the one with the x-ray machine'. no wait, i didnt really say that, but i guess the expression on my face did. lookin at the image on his screen, he says, 'that looks like a rambo knife...' i give him a patient smile, the sort your dad gives you when you point out the new dent he made on his car or something.. and then he drops the bombshell 'take it out, i wanna take a look'. i give him my best 'are you off your rocker?' look, to no avail.

now there is a universal rule regarding travelling students. if the direction of travel is towards college, the bag is full of clean clothes, and if the journey is homeward bound, the bag is full of laundry. unfortunately, i was homeward bound. and my laundry is notorious. well, too bad, cant be helped. i was hoping that he'd be hit by the realisation that opening my bags is not in the best interests of the airport but then he seemed not to notice.. well the one who did notice was the cute girl(funny, how they turn up at the worst possible times) in line behind me, and she turned away in disgust when, in the futile search for the knife, my entire fleet of underwear came out on parade. and this was all unnecessary, since the knife finally turned up in the outer pocket of the bag. and the security chap looks at it, shows it to his colleague and exclaims 'this is just like rambo's knife!'. in a different context, i woulda taken that as a compliment, but with 50 people glaring behind me in line, and my laundry stinking up the whole place, and faced with the prospect of packing all over again, i nearly snapped. but i didnt, cos he was the guy with the gun, and even my super awesome knife stood no chance before an Automatic Kalashnikov No47.

was it to be the end of my woes? no sirree, no. i was cheered up for a bit when, just about to board the bus that took us to the aircraft, i noticed that it was one of those new livery Indian aircraft. i was kicked. wow, in flight entertainment and all, man! the first sign that something was wrong came when i noticed the double bogey landing gear. now every aircraft buff(ok im narrowing my target audience a bit here, sue me) knows that those are seen only on the older A320s of Indian. the next sign that something was wrong came when i reached the aircraft.. the white paint looked blotchy, like your teeth when u dont brush for five days. by then it was clear, it was old wine in new livery. and as luck would have it, i was seated right next to the emergency exit. good in case of an emergency, but bad otherwise, as in the older indian aircraft, this is the noisiest seat u could ask for.. so all hopes of sleeping till bombay were shot.

and bombay was a different sort of hell altogether. as soon as i reached the departure terminal (1A) i was greeted with a board that said that due to fog in delhi (funny these delhi-ites, always out to influence the rest) all flights originating there have been delayed. mine was one of them. of course i was kicked initially. being stranded at bombay airport is a planehead's dream come true. sit on one of those nice reclined seats and watch airplane after airplane take off.. wait did i say seats? i must have, but i sure dont remember seeing any. the place was full of people waiting for delayed flights, and every last seat was taken. and i couldnt see many aircraft since i could go nowhere in front of the windows, which were already crowded with people. and im not exactly 6 feet tall. of couse, something had to be done. i pestered the airline people who gave me free snacks, lunch, drinks... everything except entry to their lounge, which was apparently packed as well. so i put my bags on a trolley, and sat down on it. and grew into it. it was so comfortable that i actually fell asleep on it. of course, the nice five star lunch in my tummy added to my sleepiness, but i slept like a baby for two hours on my baggage trolley. and woke up when i sensed i was moving. some damn kid, all of four years or so, decided it would be amusing to push me on my trolley. i didnt fint it one bit amusing to be woken up from my slumber, but apparently his mom agreed with him cos she wasnt doing anything to stop him. anyway, i woke to a nice surprise since i saw a fleet of baggage trolleys with people sleeping in them.

i took my trolley and steered it as far away from all kids in range, and went to sleep again only to discover i had run out of sleep. i woke up four times in fifteen minutes, and decided it wasnt worth the effort any more. so i decided to pester the airline people once again to see if i could get another free meal. so i walked across to the duty manager's office only to find out that my flight was arriving in half an hour, and he seemed rather relieved and a tad happy to refuse me the meal. i turned around and marched towards my bags, and was promptly stopped by a security chap who said 'aap nahi jaa sakte'. in minutes it was known that the secutiry had located your friendly neighbourhood 'suspicious looking bag' and the bomb squad had been called in. i had reason to panic, i tell you. my bags were lying around, and considering my day's luck, there was a good chance some bomb squad guys were holding up my laundry in a press conference for all to see, alleging biochemical attacks by foreign powers. thankfully i could make out my bags lying untouched on the other side of the melee. the scene soon got interesting with one guy in one of those space suit type outfits for protection started defusing the 'bomb'. right from the start i was unimpressed with the guy. i mean, the suit and all were cool, but how can you trust your life in the hands of a guy who kept makin one helluva racket by bumping into his own equipment trolley, which ironically contained equipment that included wireless microphones that helps him defuse the bomb by avoiding any noise that might set it off? perhaps he had a fair idea that he was, yet again, gonna end up pickin out some hapless chap's laundry from the same ol' bag found under the same ol' suspicious circumstances. if on the other hand the picked this very day for a practise drill, then i must congratulate the indian secutiry forces. not for their timing or efficiency or vigilance, but for the sheer nerve to have chosen this very day when all flights were delayed, when every nerve in the terminal was frayed, and when there was a serious posibility of irateness of the average passenger turning into violence. it might make for ideal training condiions, but i'd rather NOT have the extra delay of someone learning his trade after i'd been sleeping on baggage trolleys all day.

either way, i had a suspected bomb between me and my flight, and i was losing patience. finally when they did figure out that unwashed clothes dont explode (mine excluded) we were all allowed to move towards the gates to board. on my way there, i passed the bomb squad chaps and there was a small crowd shaking the hand of the space suit guy. i decided i might as well do that since i've never met a bomb disposal technician ever, and since his dangerous job could use a bit of cheer. i approached the chap, shook his hand, spoke to him, looked at his name tag...... and he was A GODDAMN MALLU! i've heard the joke that when neil armstrong landed on the moon, there was a mallu there with a tea shop already, but this was the absolute. even the guy defusing bombs in bombay is a mallu. i didnt realy know how to feel about that, but in retrospect i dont think i was all that surprised. I suppose i wont resent those mallu jokes again. i'll happily werk in the gelf for meney.

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