Tuesday 15 November 2011

The Low Cost Air Bus

I recently boarded a flight chennai -delhi . Low cost everything, done electronically. The site kept asking me if I wanted to order a meal . Well I cant really decide if I need a sandwich one month from now. So I thought I will think about it. Its been a while since I travelled . It was my big solo flight after Akhil. So in between spit ups , keeping an infant from pushing keys (he jammed my dot key anyway which means.com is a whole new meaning for me) I bought my ticket.
After guilt pangs and trying to make a 7 month understand how much mummy loves him , the infant raised his hand when I said bye and that was it. Teary eyed mama drove off into the chennai airport .

After a 6 months of ba ba black sheep the chennai airport is a rude shock at 6 am. people in red mufflers, fresh malli poo and e tickets fight at the entrance. I remembered all this and got in . went through the check in and security after fighting with three ladies who thought we stood in a line to pass time. They were apparently shy to do security alone . By now I realised I had not lost my chennai touch . All motherhood and maternal feelings are nice with a seven month old , thrown into the real world the chennai citizen in me still lives.

So I sit at the gate reading a paper. Everyone around me is eating. Mamis had fresh idlis and chilli powder. Bengalis fresh from their Apollo hospital visits have tea in the hand. Gujratis had kakra. I could have managed a bowl of cerelac maybe. Everyone looked so fresh and clean. I looked sleepy , laptop , papers and bundled in. I took out my fleece and covered myself. I was off to Moscow so a 27C should not really deter me. Babies were squealing all dressed in great finery. My poor Akhil doesnt have such luck. He never gets such fine clothes. Pure cotton onesies and a pant if mama is in the mood.No black dots and threads to ward off evil eyes. Only T minic cough drops .

So we got on the Bus. One heavy duty vaadhyar boards. with a big naamam he could stop a plane in mid air with that symbol Lord Balaji ´s naamam maybe a tad smaller. the man is bare chested , but all neatly shaved or waxed . He takes out 2 Apple I phone 4 and talks to his clients. I am going to Delhi , cant come. Then to his mami . Enna di airport vandachu.
Then comes THE FAMILY. father mother two kids. We reach the plane. Everyone wants to get in . Well if we have come so far , the plane will take all of us. But Indians like to be first so eevryone wants to get in first. So we go in. No place in overhead cabin already. The ladies have all taken out their tiffin boxes. One auntyji took out bread, spread amul butter and kissan jam and gave all the munna munnis on the flight. How did she manage to take a knife through security ? Well I guess between a blunt knife and a razor sharp tongue? The tongue won.

I realised someone was sitting on my seat. So I said Sir this is my seat. Three men got up. Shook three other men in the adjacent row. They discussed it for 5 minutes and the man sat in my seat again. I said Sir I have that seat. But madam this is also seat. Ok trading a middle seat for an aisle is a good trade off. So i sat with my hand bag and belonging under my leg. With smells of food wafting around I was now really hungry. As the flight took off , the meal service started. At 150 Rs for a sandwich I was dreaming of a fat enriched mayo dripping beautiful piece of cholestrol. When the cart came to our seat , I said could I get a sandwich. The steward a desi version of Zeus and his friend artemis says No maam we have no sandwiches. Ok cake? No ok what do u have. Cookies and cashews. Well why cant I have sandwiches? It got over. How can sandwiches get over? I dont mind non veg also. Maam today everyone decided to eat sandwiches. Ah so thats the official excuse. Everyone gets up and says today lets eat jet airways sandwich. So i take some bad cashewnuts and chew slowly. We have 2 hours of flight to kill.

The uncle adjacent to me has a Vivanta taj snack box. Which he keeps proudly on his tray table. in fact he even refused to fold it during take off lest the box goes through some stress. Out comes banana chips, one apple, one banana , one bottle water. after all this uncle reclines and decides to sleep. Uncle 2 behind him , who has a sri krishna sweets bag , lots of management books , one studious looking spectacle calls Artemis and says ask that man to push his seat. To which vivanta uncle says , i boarded this flight in kochi(explains banana chips) at 6 so i got up at 3 and drove to airport without morning tea , i reach delhi by 11 and reach home by only 12.30 so i am tired and need to sleep. but other uncle says go to hell and pushes from back. but vivanta uncle just snores through it.

While all this happens THE family comes into role. The baby is crying. Well she had been since we boarded. But by now she is howling . The mother just sits quiet and smiles benignly at us. the Uncle who lost the seat battle now wants to win the baby battle . He calls Artemis. Pls. ask baby to keep quiet. Artenmis says yes sir. Now I wanted to see how a child is going to take instructions from artemis and say oh sorry for crying I will just shut up . the crying reaches new heights. All the men in the near shake their heads . the women all mutter. the mother feeds her other child and husband with a wailing baby. This was a new skill for me. Everyone was looking at the lady . Me only a 7 month mom decided to plunge right in. Do you have a dummy? She looks at me strangely. Something to chew? Some milk or candy? Some cotton for the ears , a toy or board book? Having exhausted babycenter´s 10 tips for travelling with infants I sit back . Maybe I should hold the baby. But I think if only my husband was there to restrain me Well in a long time I dont smell of spit ups. Do I really want to chance a punjabi thali meal coming on my dress . I decide to shut up. After an hour , the father after eating his fill. slowly gets up and carries the toddler. the child looks really terrible. uncontrollable sobs , runny nose , cold feet . The father walks hesitantly and within seconds the child falls asleep. meanwhile two men in front pull out an ipad and place it in th tray table. I crane my neck , to see if any free movies are coming on. For my luck its his home video collection. Fat ladies dancing at home in front of a TV . Dadaji dadiji eating ladoo. Munna Munni dancing like movie stars . One munni singing . Oh god . first no food now no entertainment. I miss my akhil.

Atleast we land in 30 minutes . At this point jet airways gives out some scratch cards . Apparently they sell stuff no one needs on board and also have a scratch and win contest. In fine print it says pay only 699 for the pick up of the gift. Three auntyjis pull out their hairclips and start scratching. They all get same gifts. They call Artemis and complain. Stoic artemis explains in jet airways language we understand your disappoint but this is the contest. Anyway auntjis are happy. something free .

Soon we land at the posh delhi airport . The hostess says jet airways aapko delhi antarashtriya bla bla swaagath.... By now auntyjis cant wait for gift. they get up . Artemis says behto behto . Elderly auntyji says they will say that you go in front. But gravity takes care of evrything and small size aunty sits.

By now we can use mobiles . A hundred nokia tunes burst into the flight along with some chamak challo tunes and skanda shashti sthrotram( mr. vaadyar had logged in)
Some people had luggage all over the flight. they jump, signal and get in line. One man decides to jump in front. literally squeezing my hand. I wait patiently. My fellow passengers says madam please get up. I will but where do u want me to go. But they decide to plaster me to my seat and move. So I thought I better fight my way too . I stand and the man behind me mutters apparently he would get out one nano second after me. That is a long wait.

So we come out on to the luggage belt . the new airport looks excellent. Its full of people and food places. Screaming kids, tired mothers, angry mother in laws, cozy honeymooners with mehendi . Hundreds of people come to receive their guests . Its so nice to be in a posh indian airport !

I get into my car and drive to the hotel. Gurgaon looks impressive. At the hotel I am the only desi . Wow this is also India. Phoren kids in their sunday clothes quietly jumping on the bouncy castle while the parents eat oysters and sip champagne . The prices are steep , expat prices you see . Well I yearn for the airport samosa but now I will also be a posh desi , sip my virgin mojito and dig into my pak choy while watching pictures of akhil on my really cheap nokia ....