I love weirdos. No, Jay, I do not know them in the Biblical sense, I just love looking at them. Even talking to them. (The latter for short periods, say about 53 seconds at a time with long gaps in between. Like seven years.) Given a choice, I’d rather check out a Weirdo than a Hot Chick.
Delhi airport at five o’clock on a sweltering April evening when the air-conditioning is barely holding its own ...
Item: a Dude who thinks he’s So Khoo. From the bottom up – dirty sneakers that were probably brown when he bought them. Cargoes that would be khaki if he washed them. So far so good. Then – a nice white cotton shirt. With purple batik down the button seams. Ohhh, Khoo! And a full-sleeved jersey of some dark colour, the sleeves protrude beyond the short sleeves of the shirt. Is he frickin’ insane? This is Delhi, it’s almost 40 Celsius outside, it must be above 30 even inside the airport, wtf is he dressed like he’s in Leicester Square handing out menus from a Chinese take-away?! And Bono shades, you know what I mean? The kind that belong on a hairy biker riding something fat and snarly with a tear-drop tank and swept-back handlebars, only this guy looks even more ridiculous in them than Bono does. To top it all off, a cap of the kind that was last seen on Dev Anand singing “Ruk jaana o jaana mujhse do baatein” in “Bullet” (or was it “Warrant”?) If he weren’t already in line for boarding the Bombay flight I’d seriously try to strike up a conversation with him. Could be such fun. (Just a tip, dude – lose the polythene shopping bag from some "Saree Emporium" in Lucknow)
Item: the Surd in front of Khoo Dude. Now every Sikh gent doesn’t have to be like N.S. “Stop-my-mouth-I-want-get-off” Sidhu, with matching tie and turban and pocket square, but this guy is wearing pants the colour of turds that have dried in the sun (don’t ask, when we lived in Chit Park back in the Year One, Alaknanda didn’t exist and the rocky waste was a Public Convenience), with black shoes, blue socks, a tan belt and a turban that is (a) the most hideous shade of maroon possible, rather like those ice-lollies Saleem used to sell at our school gate (b) so large it looks as if he’s carrying a head-load of watermelons to market. His gut balances it, pushing his (thankfully white) shirt-front out so far he looks at least seven months gone with a nice healthy puttar. Awright, I’m judgemental and he has a heart of gold, but unfortunately what I can see is his turban.
Item: a group of three Bongs sitting behind me. Older Boss-type takes fifteen minutes to tell his Younger Acolytes how he gave somebody a dressing-down. That’s his prerogative, they’re his acolytes and they’re making all the right awed noises, but wtf, they’re sitting one on either side of him and not half-way across the lounge! And I take the ribbing from my friends about how all Bongs talk loudly.
Item: overweight young lady dressed in a pant-suit of peach-coloured corduroy (pants fashionably pixie-flared) and matching shoes. Shades so dark they're meant for the beach, how can she see with those things on? Rings on all her fingers, even the thumbs. People really dress like that?! And ma’m, you should either go on a diet or get that waistline let out, muffin rolls are not sexy. In fact they're even less sexy than ruck-lines.
Item: a head of long curly streaked hair above a nice flowered shirt in the row ahead of us. My companion is inching around to take a peek at what looks like Hot Chick material. I encourage him to go for a walk around so he can lech a bit, knowing fully well that said streaked hair is on a person who is (a) at least 50 kilos overweight (b) male. Ninety seconds later, the expression on Companion’s face is priceless. At this point Streaked Hair gets up and waddles over to join the line boarding the flight to Aurangabad. Not only is his ass as big as an elephant’s, his jeans are so tight round his humongous derriere that he has ruck-lines! Ladies, all is forgiven, I am betrayed by my own sex! Oh wait. He also has a vapid expression (like Adnan Sami trying to remember what it was he was supposed to do with Ameesha Patel) and .. Such .. Twee .. RED .. sneakers. Strewth!
Item: Khoo Dude #2, this one in tight black trousers, flowered red shirt, shiny patent-leather shoes (slightly scuffed), fake designer watch (with those shoes, it must be a fake) and long curly mane. Would have been excusable if he had been 35 years younger, now he looks like a pimp and a lousy one at that. Excuse me, sir? The only species that can dress like that at age 55 doesn’t fly Economy, you know what I mean? You should have your private island before you dare to look so gross in public, then you have somewhere to run when I try to step on you. 
Item: Tough babe opposite me. Nice eyes, but a jaw that belongs on a Soviet ice-breaker sailing from Odessa in November. She was on the same flight out in the morning too. Through some inexplicable subconscious process, I’m sure she works for a market research agency. But lady, you’re not exactly going door-to-door, why are you wearing sneakers with your FabIndia type salwar-kameez? That’s just fine on dumpy aunties (as in ladies whom even I address as "Auntie") doing the rounds of Victoria Memorial at six in the morning, why must you inflict it on us in a public place at 5 in the evening? AND she’s reading a Robin Cook. Gah.
Delhi airport is good in one respect. In the check-in hall, there are kiosks where you can get decent grub. Even a Café Coffee Day outlet, so while I’m fuming in the check-in queue behind some moron who thinks the airline is dying to carry, free of charge, his 27 cartons bound with rope, I have some succour and consolation. Cal airport only has a couple of tired Lipton tea booths. Masala chai is good, but not in the same league as a large Ethiopian, extra strong, with double shots of chocolate and cream.
In just about any major Indian airport, there’s precious little food or drink that you can buy once you’re through security. Delhi is an exception. There's this (supposedly) swank outlet (right next to the drinking water and the loos) where you can buy fossilised samosas, petrified sandwiches and kathi rolls personally prepared by the bawarchis of Bahadur Shah Zafar. In 1854. They might break your teeth and poison you but by God, they have antique value! While I appreciate the Airports’ Authority’s attempt to provide “heritage cuisine”, I still haven’t figured out the pricing.
Sandwiches are uniformly priced at 50 rupees each, but why 37 bucks for a samosa? Forget the fact that I could get better – sorry, more edible though with less historical value – samosas for 3 bucks outside, why that particular figure? Why price “Veg. Kathi rolls” (what an abomination!) at Rs. 62? And “Non-veg. Kathi rolls” (the only kind, actually. AAAI, wake up) at Rs. 73? Do they want to make it so difficult to get the right change that they drive customers away? What stops them from rounding off the prices? And if they must pretend to price by exact value, why not go the whole hog and charge Rs. 37 and 64 paise for their prehistoric samosas?
Morons. They are everywhere.
Why does everybody rush to stand in line as soon as boarding is announced? It’s not as if Indian (no longer “Indian Airlines”, now wait for them to learn from “British” who went back to being “British Airways”) has free seating and they’ll get better seats if they board first. Stupid herd mentality. On the other hand, if everybody were like me and waited for the others to queue out before they even stood up, the flight would never take off. Or there would be a melee at the boarding gate. It does take all kinds.
Why does the lady behind me ask, of no-one in particular, “IC 264?” No ma'm, they just put that sign on the boarding gate to fool you, this is actually the flight to Azerbaijan.
I’m just so full of the milk of human kindness because it’s hot and I have a headache and I had a bad meeting. Venting helps.
Oh all right, I’m a shallow petulant trivial person. (But I don’t wear Bono shades or peach-coloured shoes, HA!)
 – I landed up next to him on the flight and he’s actually quite a nice guy. Apart from the character traits that go with pimp pants and fake gold Patek Philippes.