Friday, May 16, 2008


The flight from the New Delhi International Airport was at the early hour of 0445 hrs. The recent spate of construction in the airport had sent the passengers into a great tizzy with a lot of them missing their trolleys of baggage, loved and unloved ones, big whole airplanes which can’t be missed so easily in the blink of an eye or for that matter not just being able to reach the construction site or the airport in time due to traffic. (Hereon, christened as the ELITE GROUP). The modernization programme had also sent the Airport Authorities into a greater tizzy with many of them temporarily shifting homes to the airport and the rest choosing to stay away weeks on end due to traffic and the fear that they might be trampled by the irate passengers. Not wanting to join the elite group, we reached the airport at about an hour or so before midnight. The wait was long……us waiting for the plane like a hungry lion who had been on Mr. Atkins’ hit-list for more than a month. The pride of ten lions who waited dwindled down to two, one armed with an i-pod and the other sporting aviators in the dead of the night. The rest had drifted off sitting atop their luggage trolleys. The two were discussing matters of great importance which covered world peace, cigarettes, Iraq, whisky, the climate in Israel, vodka, beer, Led Zeppelin, Joe Satriani and in- flight food, leg-room, beings and the probability of an ET invasion in the airport that night.

Two hours before the H- hour the two and some more realized that some formalities were still pending, which posed a great possibility of being permanent members of the elite group without any recommendation or backing from an existing member of it’s security council. The hunter’s intuition took over admirably as we ran from gate 4 to gate 1 stealthily and in record time without the aid of GPS to reach the check-in counter without any casualties or serious injuries to self or precious baggage. The counter had already been sighted by a reconnoitering party working on information from Int. sources.

A word on international travel booking is deemed essential at this critical juncture. The flight was of Turkish Air as the Air Indians (AI’s- not to be confused with Artificial Intelligence) didn’t operate a direct, indirect or any flights to the city of Tel Aviv. The Turks did, with their magic flying carpets along with a twelve to fifteen hour stopover at Istanbul. So the AI’s booked us with the Turks and AI 6071 and offered a nice big Hotel at Istanbul for the duration of the stopover. Now that the ground realities have been established, let’s get ahead.

The fundamental truth that the AI’s were just the booking agency was discovered when the recce party swung into action and a major goof-up in the mission avoided. Lightning is never supposed to strike the same place twice, but it chose to electrocute this unsuspecting bunch as the Hotel reservations, PNR numbers and some more vital info was also gleaned from the super-secret AI computers which weren’t AI at the least. Then we waited in the line. It was the line that seemed to have stemmed right out of the Wing Commander Murphy’s (Retd) grave. There were a bunch of survivors, (the reality series people) moving their equipment ‘serially’ from one end of the counter to its other and thereby from one corner of the earth to its centre or thereabouts and paying a princely sum of Rupees One Lakh Only (A/C Payee) as excess baggage. I later on heard that theirs was the only fragile equipment that was handled with great finesse and delicate care. A lot of world weary wanderers who traveled about in groups of one or two swooshed past the adjacent counters as we just stood there posing very seriously in a 1970’s bollywood movie slo-mo video shot in bullet time videography. We moved through more lines that snaked through the airport making every inch of movement, a moment of celebration.

The final steps before we fastened our seat belts were momentously sleep deprived moments mixed with a lot of elation and more importantly relief as I plonked down in an effort to get some sleep.

What will happen next? Will the writer get any sleep? Will the weary travelers reach Istanbul? Or Tel Aviv for that matter...Please see and read the next article in the same font size and page settings in MS Word.

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