Saturday, 3 November 2007

And what a comedy of errors this has been! Wow, voila, whoops and darn! Lol!

So then this one would be much like a “Dear diary” post but then what the heck, after all that I have been through on this trip I seriously don’t give a damn!

Let us begin from the beginning then shall we? So here I am on the morning of 24th all packed and ready to roll and the cab shows up before time (surprise!) and my luggage is all under weight and I roll it down the stairs and open the door of the cab and slip in and almost faint.

No not with anything pleasant.

The cab was reeking of cigarette smoke and all forms of human (and possibly animal) abuse. Seats were as dirty as they could be and I had to really sit in a huddle to prevent any part of my body touching any extremity of the cab which was not essential to my commute. The driver was a very impolite gentleman who on my suggestion of turning down the blazing gale of volcanic steam issuing from the car’s ventilation system gave me such a freezing look in the rear view mirror that my soul got max chilled out instantly. Well I wasn’t hot anymore so let’s mark it as a “tick” i.e. done, fair enough!?

I manage to reach Heathrow, so far so good. Well yes I would admit that my stride had lost that leap which it had prior to my opening the door of the cab and I wasn’t really walking anymore like a bad impression of Will Smith (which I think is kinda good, eh?) but still I was looking forward to my 9.5 hour journey in the World Travel Plus (Premium Economy) class of BA to Bangalore. I had never flown BA before and so I literally had no idea what to expect. What’s more I had never even stepped foot on the terminal 4 of Heathrow (LHR this point onwards). I had my seat booked in as a prior arrangement (courtesy web check in) and I was delighted since I had managed to nab the window seat in the first row of premium economy! Yes that’s right, I was the king of the world and nothing could stand in my way.

Well other than the baggage drop of BA where there was a single line for economy and premium economy and where (with all due respect and possible tinge of very slight almost miniscule intimidation) was this extra large group of extra large and extra stout Jamaicans who made it a point to take as much time checking in their luggage as was probably allowed by the integral and differential equations of quantum mechanic factoring in Einstein’s theory of relativity. I had almost drifted through the quantum foam and reached the other dimensions of one of the many parallel other universe when suddenly a rough hand gushed me forward and the waiting gentleman ushered me to the next free counter.

Confident of the weight of my luggage I dropped it on the conveyor belt with the flourish of Houdini himself and beamed my most radiant smile at the lady sitting at the desk. She did me the courtesy of simply looking up, purse her lips and uttered the most magical words “Passport please.” I handed her my passport she looked through it, gave me the boarding pass and I was all set.

What? You were expecting something to go wrong here as well? How evil, how utterly vile.

But then of course it did happen.

When she told me to stuff my laptop bag in my handbag. I looked at her with all the dignity of a wounded monkey who fell from the branch in mid flight during one of his best possible Tarzan imitation ululating the feared cry that shakes the entire jungle and made my protests claiming that their site says that since I am in premium economy I am allowed two 23 Kgs checked in baggage and one handbag and a laptop case. Why should I then take my laptop out, deform this magnificent leather beauty of the carrying case into a crumpled heap and stuff it in my handbag? Ahh that loving beauty, her words still resonate with such a precision of Beethoven’s symphony, I could perhaps devote an Apocrypha to her. She parted her luscious lips and out flew the mellifluous elixir of literary verbiage – “Well sir we as airline do exactly allow what we claim, but BAA as an airport authority doesn’t. So once you are past security you can take your laptop case out”.

Duh! What do I say to this now. Well but of course I said “Thank you very much. But would you be kind enough to write this on your website as well please?” A just remark you would agree with me, yes? Well she didn’t and said that if I had any complaints she can refer me to the Customer Grievances Process (which sounded like another process to make their customers grieve) to which I gave another of my Houdini hand flourishes and moved on, partly because I was beginning to feel the waves of heat coming out of the nostrils of the other big Jamaican fellow who was behind me in the line. Not that I was afraid (I go to gym you see) but why invite trouble for someone else.

So then I took out my laptop crushed the beauty of its carrying case (little did I know I had my iPod, webcam and headphones in it, ouch!) and stuffed it in my handbag. I reached the line for security and with complete dignity of a guy in black pajamas, black sweatshirt and black shoes (hey I look good in black all right!) I took my place in the line. So here I am standing in the line ho humming during this eternal wait to reach the pearly gates when suddenly I feel that I have just been made a legend.

Sorry, a typo, I meant to write “leg end”.

I turned around promptly to see this approx 3 year old boy in his pram busy aiming another one of his kicks towards my posterior (that’s “butts” for you). Confused and utterly bewildered I looked at his mother who gave me a very apologetic smile, shrugged her shoulders and carried on her chitter chatter with her next line neighbor. I looked down at the kid again, he gave me one of his “bad boys bad boys whatcha gonna do whatcha gonna do when I come for you” smile and started aiming his kick again. I made a show of inspecting my shoe and made the boy realize that I wear a size ten shoe and if I were to innocently step back I would probably do a reasonable amount of harm to his little feet than what he could do to me even if he hurled his little body as fast as he could towards my ahem “sensitive areas”. As soon as the gesture was over the smile on the boy’s face faded and out came a resonating wail which started at his larynx and echoed in every possible hidden corner of the airport making my insides squirm and quiver. Yes he started crying in all possible frequencies on the human audio spectrum and drew the attention of all of the air port towards me by pointing one of his fingers straight at my innocent heart.

How I wished that Jamaican had taken me down while I was in the checking in line. Oh! Just how much did I wish.

So amidst a barrage of sobs, wails, accusatory finger pointing and looks of pure loathing, contempt and disgust by my fellow passengers I made my way to the security gate where thankfully no alarms sounded, buzzers screamed or security sensors flashed red lights. I was ushered through the terminal, collected my handbag, laptop and jacket and then and there opened my handbag to take the laptop case out. And at precisely this point I realized that I had opened someone else’s handbag and my hands were toying with something soft and squeezey and cuddly and white a.k.a diapers.

Oh how I wish that Jamaican had taken me down. How!

I apologized to no one in particular picked my bag again (correctly this time) and took out the carrying case for my laptop. I unfolded (resurrected should be the right word here) the case and tried to force my laptop in when I realized that my webcam is no more and my iPod was breathing its last breaths as well. Since there was nothing much I could do I simply took the remnants of my cam and stowed them in the nearest bin with a minute’s silence to pay my respect to the fallen warrior and carefully put the iPod in my jacket.

I would skip the tales of my wanderings at terminal 4 especially the incident at the World duty free shop simply to still give an impression that I am after all a learned, cultured, educated and decent human being.

So I managed to find the boarding gate, made my way there and boarded the flight. I had my good seat after all and to my great relief my neighbor didn’t show up. I had two seats to myself for the entire 9.5 hours. Yay!

The flight took of on time and when it did I had the strange feeling that the rumbling rattling plane would at any moment simply fall apart like in one of those C grade Hollywood movies and this would be the end of me. But of course that didn’t happen and with great expectations I pulled out the TV screen for the in flight programs.

You know the British are very cultured. Very rooted to their past and very proud of their history. They are fiercely protective of their heritage and dislike any change whatsoever. So protective are they of the “good old times” that the BA hadn’t bothered to change/upgrade their in flight program technology since probably the first time it was invented and installed in their air crafts. The screens were smeared with the finger prints of all occupants of the seat (what memoirs!) and I could count the squares on the electronic circuits of the touch screen (which is really saying something now). The programs start at the same time for everyone and you can not stop/pause/play as per your whims. I am all up for team building exercises usually but this one I think was a step too far to be honest.

The flight was uneventful for most part. The crew was very helpful when they showed up. The catch word in the earlier sentence was “when”. I remember lighting the signal on and then waiting for 20 minutes before a passing air hostess happened to see the light and asked me what earthly comfort I desired at 37000 meters above the sea level. But of course I only wanted some water and hey a 20 minute wait for a glass of water in a premium economy section which is only 10% occupied isn’t that bad on a BA flight now come on.

So the flight landed at the airport, I did the immigration bit and made my way to collect my luggage. There were a total of two conveyor belts in the airport which were positioned at right angles to each other with their trajectories diverting more than 180 degrees. The staff at Bangalore airport probably didn’t want us any longer here than what we did and decided it would really speed up the process if they off load the luggage simultaneously on both the belts. Obviously it would mean that we now have to shuttle between the belts trying to see which belt has our luggage rolling on it but then this is our problem, right? Right!

Took me one and a half hour to retrieve the one checked in baggage that I had. I stepped out of the airport boarded the waiting cab and made way to the guest house.

Things get really interesting from this point onwards, but that comes in the next post and possibly some pictures too! Don’t expect to see any cows or stray dogs for I have made a firm resolution that I am not going to click those kind of pictures!


  1. Scarlett said...
    Lol.. John, I'm so tickled in here. I'm seriously laughing outright. You make an airport seem like the ideal place for all sorts of adventures. Good luck with Blore. And good luck with the dogs there..
    John F said...
    lol! but Scarlett it indeed is! In fact had I written the details of my wandering on terminal 4, I am rather sure I would have been knigthed by Her Majesty and simultaneously awarded the "Comic of the year" award by the world comedian's guild!!
    annie said...
    Consider writing a novel. It would sell like hot cakes. Man ur writing abilities are fab, thatz the first thing. Second, i njoyed the post though i hate readin longish posts. Thirdly, cmon india isnt just about dogz & cows....kiddin, i know u dint mean seriously. Lookin fwd to read bang. killer stories.
    Shimmer said...
    LOL... im almost fallin off ma chair ryt nw... u managed to keep my attention thruout da loooooooooooong post... gud luk with bang.. i jus left da city... wil be bak next year tho *wails*.. hope u have a better experience... cheers!
    Vixious said...

    This was a really enjoyable post and one of my favorites to date. It was more conversational and I could picture you relaying the details to me over drinks and sharing the laugh. I love your more narrative pieces, too, but this one was warm and friendly and made me smile. Thank you.
    John F said...
    Annie! Thanks a lot for the encouragement. I would like to write something but then who would publish me :P. I know I know India is not about all that only and I did mean it as a joke!

    Shimmer, welcome to my pages. I am trying to like the city but probably am not doing a very good job of it :(. Actually I am staying away from the city which has really made things tough for me. Well no more complaints, am flying to Delhi today!

    Vixious thank you very much. Though if you would prefer, I have enough tales to keep you busy over drinks and share laughs with you *wink wink* :D I do plan to write my next posts in the same narrative tone!
    annie said...
    C'mon i hardly praised ur skills.U deserve more. So dont thank me so much yet:)
    Mirage said...
    Whew! What a post! I actually feel exhausted, imagining myself in ur place all this while! Airports can be SUCH a drag!

    The humour element was too good! The kid incident cracked me up the most! :D
    John F said...
    thanks Annie!

    Welcome to my insane world Mirage! yeah Airports can be a real drag but somehow I really love the whole flying thingy. I love the experience of being at airport, being in the queues, crunched on my seat on the flight etc. etc. :-D
    annie said...
    Hows ur Del trip been? Did u go ard Greater Kailash n Gurgaon malls?
    John F said...
    Hi Annie! Thanks for asking!

    Unforunately my Delhi trip was very rushed so I didnt get to do anything at all. But hey am back to Delhi this evening for 3 weeks!
    annie said...
    So wot all u plan to see ard in Del...any clues abt da place?

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