I woke up wanting to strangle someone with my bare hands- err…don’t get too excited- the person I was looking for was my mobile phone. With her constant and untimely chirruping to wake me up from a deep and fantasy filled sleep it was turning into the biggest pest of my life- giving me a taste of what married life would look like. And if you wondered why I referred to my mobile phone as a person – its because it is so smart, that when I first bought it- the day I opened the box and took my first look at the little dear – I had to get it a birth certificate, an insurance policy and even named it (like all men do) after my first love…hence the present need to mute it silent and sleep a bit more. But duty calls or to be precise…my friend called and said “I am waiting at the station for you, where are you?” I didn’t hesitate a bit before saying “caught in a traffic jam..Be there in 5” before cutting his call and hurrying into the bathroom to brush.
By the time, I had reached the station my friend was giving me call after missed call, which I wisely avoided picking up till I was gone past the security at the entrance who tried to strip search me – but they couldn’t get past my unwashed socks- which were the first item I removed and laid on the counter-top..they took one sniff and deciding not to search my body cavities- for I don’t even have a remote resemblance to any known terrorist- they just satisfied themselves (those perverts) with asking me to pass through the x-ray machine and taking a good look at my hidden assets . Post the security check I hurried into the crowded central hall, glanced at the now arriving/departing board and listening to the taped (for ever the same) “yaathriyon krupiya dhyan dhejiye” being played endlessly on-loop and I finally answered my friends call- “where are you?”.
He let loose a string of obscenities which I will not repeat here (in respect to any family audiences) and ended by directing me to come up to platform no.3 where he was already aboard the reserved compartment. The women on the speaker was now screaming something like “thodi se der mein” and I couldn’t make out the rest but knew instinctively that it was time to turn on my superman act if I was going to make it aboard in time. I shook my hair, removed my aviators, folded them, tucked them into my shirt and with a burst of energy plunged recklessly into the milling crowds blocking my way. I moved so fast that the toes I stamped on and the midriffs I elbowed barely had time to turn and catch a glimpse before I was way past them. I pushed past the people crowding the doors just as the automatic doors hissed shut. There. I had made it. Now to find my friend.
As I moved on deeper inside, from the unreserved section near the tail, where I had boarded in my hurry, into the reserved seats at the front, I craned over the heads of all the seated people trying to figure out where my friend had parked himself. I had to carefully step past the people who were seated all over the floor, breaking boiled groundnut shells and throwing them all around after eating the nuts. Every time the vehicle lurched with turbulence I stamped on a few but went past quickly- dodging the groundnut husks which came flying at me. Finally I sighted my friend and went up to him “late as usual” he complained and I just grinned an apology at him silently.
He moved a bit and let me sit down beside him on the seats for three, which was somehow crammed with four people already beside me, people who even sat perched with half-a-butt resting on the side armrests. “How come?” I gestured to my friend, pointing to this crowd and he said “Un-reserved” with a small snort of disapproval. He was always a curt fellow and didn’t talk much. Meanwhile, a vendor was passing by shouting “tea, kaapi, lassi” and I bought two cups of chai. I also snagged a couple of hot samosas each from another vendor passing by. As we were having our on-board morning breakfast of oily samosas, a fortune teller, carrying a parrot was pestering a young couple seated just before us- trying to frighten them into hearing their fortune with dire predictions of the future. My friend shook his head at the audaciousness of the fellow and said “wait till the ticket checker comes”. He must have heard my friend for he suddenly turned towards him and predicted “Babu..You are going to face great challenges in your life in the near future”. I shook with laughter at this and said “yes he is, I have seen the girl he is betrothed to” and I passed on a ten rupee note to the parrot-astrologer for his spot-on prediction. My friend turned red and was mumbling something under his breath. And then there was a ripple through the entire compartment as the ticket examiner came through punching the tickets.
He caught sight of the fortune teller and hurrying up straight to him caught him by the front of his shirt and asked “where is your ticket?” The fortune teller merely smiled and scratched his head. The ticket puncher looked as if he would punch the fortune teller and asked “How dare you board then?” to which the fortune teller coolly replied “Why not? What will you do? Stop the flight in mid air? And throw me out of the plane?”
And that was the highlights of my first flying experience on a Low Cost Carrier Airline….
(P.s. this post was written as part of my entry for a competition conducted by Low cost carrier Air Asia)