Saturday, 4 February 2017

Indian Airports Are The New Railway Stations

I was boarding a flight to Kolkata the other day from New Delhi and I had a eureka moment. I was about to join the check in line and I was almost there when this guy pushed me away and took the spot ahead of me. But… Instead of getting pissed off at this uncouth being, I was amused and started smiling. I realised… That we’ve made it. We’ve made airports one of our own. We don’t give a shit anymore. We’ve made the Indian airports the new Indian railway stations!

What I saw in that man was the sheer lack of any inhibition that he was at an airport. Not that one needs to be scared while at an airport but it’s just one of those places where we usually expect our fellow Indians to behave properly. You know, it’s a trait that defines us quite well. Let me give you some examples.

We don’t litter when we’re in a mall but we’ll throw an ice cream wrapper right out the window of our Audi or BMW as soon as we exit the mall. We’ll yell “Aye chhotu! Do chai laga badhiya wali” at a dhaba but say “Bhaaya, do expressos please” at a Starbucks. McDonald’s will always be “Can I have 2 McAloo Tikki burgers please?” but at a chaat wala it’ll be “Bhai tikki mei mirchi kam lekin masala zada rakhiyo aur dahi upar se thodi dalna lekin anaar bilkul nahi dalna aur saunth thodi extra.”

The list goes on… But the point is this – We behave differently at different places.

Till recently, flying was one of those fancy things where we behaved ourselves. With more and more purchasing power and flights becoming cheaper day-by-day, the entire experience is changing. There’s all kinds of pushing and shoving rampant at airports now. Much like our good old railway stations. Given that anyone and everyone is taking a flight these days, this is only a natural consequence.

On one side, I’m glad that flying has become cheaper. It’s a more convenient mode of travel that’s much safer than trains and also much quicker. People are more empowered today and they feel like peers of their western counterparts. On the other hand, I’m just amazed at how quickly we’ve trashed the whole experience of flying. Say what you may, flying on an aeroplane used to be quite fancy and still is, at least for me. But I’m feeling that feeling go away… One flight at a time!

On a flight to Bangkok last year, I saw multiple gangs of lecherous men in their t-shirts and shorts get on our flight ready to just pounce on the strippers at the plentiful go-go bars of Thailand. So much so that they started harassing the airhostess probably because they could not control their urges for even a couple of hours. Never in my life had I ever seen airhostesses yelling at the passengers so bad. I was transported back to primary school.

Look at the airports today. They’re crowded like mad. People are sleeping on floors because all seats are taken no matter what time of the day you’re there. It’s like someone has hired these people to just sit on the seats all day long. There’s always some food items missing from the supremely expensive outlets there. Every now and then you find a floater in the washroom that hasn’t been flushed down properly yet. Haldiram’s to khul hi gaya hai. All we need are a few cows chilling around in the terminal and we’ll have successfully replicated our railway stations.

But you know what would really make flying as good (or bad) as travelling in a train? When we have our poop falling down through a hole in the loo that we can see. That’d be killer!

But wait. I think this has already started to being tested. Read this link for more. Cheers!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Just A Conversation Between A DINK Couple

“It was a cold December night in Gurgaon. The party season was in full swing as Christmas was getting closer by the day. Old Monk was the choice of poison for many and that’s really where my story begins. It was a typical Friday night at the agency when we were wrapping up all pending tasks to ensure the weekend went without any calls from the servicing team. We ended up leaving office by 9:45 pm and headed straight to our favourite ahaata that was hardly 5 minutes away. We were settled in by 10 pm and had our first drink in our hands as we ordered some masala peanuts…

“Somehow winter makes you drink a little more than usual, and when you have good company, even more so. It was a special occasion for one of us as she’d just wrapped up the week by winning a prestigious advertising award for a project she’d led. The drinks were on her and we were more than happy to celebrate with her. After all, who minds free drinks?

“We were a couple of bottles of Old Monk down amongst the 6 of us when an old boss of ours decided to crash our party. In fact, he was leaving when we spotted him and convinced him to buy us a round. In came a bottle of tequila and in no time we were on the makeshift dance floor of this fairly swanky ahaata and dancing away to glory. We had forgotten all about the food and were happily inebriated to even care about what we ate. Shots were downed like there was no tomorrow and we managed to empty a full bottle of tequila in 30 minutes flat, which was a record time for even us, the so called seasoned drinkers.

“It was 12:30 am and the music had stopped and the lights had been switched on. The staff started to clear out the tables and we cleared the bill at the cashier’s counter itself. All the bags were picked and we continued the chatter right outside as we smoked in the foggy air of Gurgaon. It’s a good feeling when you can drink till the wee hours, party with friends in a not so expensive place, smoke in the open without any hesitance, and take a cab to go home. No matter what people say, if you’re careful enough, Gurgaon is a pretty safe place to be in. I mean, we’re all surrounded by the corporate kind of people who’re just like us. We’re all in the same boat…

“I stay in a place far, far away from Gurgaon. So I’m usually the last one to be dropped when I take the office cab. And because it was a weekend, I didn’t have my car on me. I’d rather not drink and drive. So we usually manage to get an office cab on nights like these but we got a tad too late this time round and none of the office cabs were available. We decided to Uber it and were on our way after saying our goodbyes to the others. One of us had to be dropped within Gurgaon and the other near SDA. And since I live in East of Kailash, I was going to be the last one to be dropped. I wasn’t too worried. From SDA to EOK was not a lot of distance…

“As soon as we got into the cab I started feeling a bit dizzy. I couldn’t see straight after that last cigarette I smoked outside and was slurring quite heavily. Within a span of a few minutes, I passed out completely. After that, all I have are fleeting glimpses of what happened during the cab ride. We first dropped off my friend in Gurgaon and they woke me up to say goodbye. So I remember seeing her off. The next memory I have is that I’m lying in the back of the cab and somebody is touching my arm…

“I didn’t wake up with a jolt as I was still heavily inebriated. I managed to open my eyes slowly and tried to make sense of what was happening. The back door was open and there was a guy leaning inside. I figured it was the driver and his right arm was locked on my left arm and he held me tight. It took me a few seconds more to understand the situation properly and then slowly I started to hear things right. Suddenly, fear gripped my whole body and I realised I was in big trouble.

“I got up with full force and slightly shoved the cab driver out of the car. I looked around and recognised the place a little. As I was standing and about to yell at my cab driver, he asked me, probably for the umpteenth time ‘Haanji aapke ghar ki gali kaunsi hai?’ I told him it was the previous one and he got back to the driver’s seat and I got back inside the cab again and we were off. In the next two minutes I recollected and realised the cab driver was simply trying to wake me up as he was lost. It probably took him some effort to wake me up as it can get quite tough to wake a person like me when I’m drunk.

“I was glad I wasn’t too far away from home. I was glad he didn’t take me to UP and loot me off my belongings. I checked my pockets and everything was in its place. I sat back and relaxed again and reached home within a couple of minutes. I got off, paid the man a tip, and that’s how I reached home that night!” He said.

“You’re lucky you’re not a girl.” She sighed…