Winged India

Dateline Delhi. Or rather, Gurgoan. In a guest house somewhere. Travel on work is interesting. You get to see whats happening with another part of the country on corporate India’s money !

The lazy Sunday is a misnomer for Bangalore’s airport ! It seems perennially busy. Serpentine queues greeted me. There were uncles, aunts, children, grandparents. The first time flier all complete with the traditional yellow bag ( manja pai). The suited booted corporate clad. The semi clad. VVIPS. Ordinary blokes. Students. You name a genre. And you can find it any of India’s airports.

In a way, India is consuming air travel with a vengeance, for all the time lost between the time planes started flying till about a few years ago. When flying was a luxury and formed part of long term goals. Something like “I will buy a house. I will marry my daughter. I will fly to Chennai” !

With flying in some cases costing, as much as bird feed, everybody seems to have developed wings ! And the airports are becoming a cultural melting point of sorts. With infrastructure struggling to keep pace with the wings that the nation has suddenly got, we see strange scenes.

Passengers curled up on the ground ( scenes that instantly took me back to Chennai Central). Overflowing bins. Crowded coaches. Funny announcements.

Sample this. “ ladees & Jhentelmenn Air xyz ees proud to hannounce depharture of its flight …… to Treeeh-Van-Drum. Hall pahsengerrs….”. I didn’t catch it the first time. Not even the second time. When I did catch it, I smiled. Good luck Trivandrum. So what if the Kerela government changed the name to Thiruvananthapuram !

Well, the only absent element is the ‘my-kerchief-drop-seat-mine’ reservation system that one sees in bus stands and unreserved coaches of the railways. On second thoughts, NO. I remember, on a trip by Air Deccan to Hubli a couple of years back, a colleague sprinted to the aircraft, across the tarmac as soon as he alighted from the transit coach.

I was puzzled. But I sprinted too. Because everybody was sprinting. I didn’t quite know why. Only when I got into the aircraft did I realise that my colleague had got in first, to get himself a good seat and reserve one for me. Air Deccan has no seat numbers. So the good old kerchief can come in handy for a reservation!

This time around I travelled Jet. The food was surprisingly bad. But the inflight entertainment was well done. Who cares if it was Kingfisher got them to change or they changed on their own! As we approached Delhi, I listened to some sufi music and thought, we have come a long way.

It was music to the ears !