Sunday, October 14, 2007

Flying. Also, not.


It’s a little like being inside Google Earth. From 30,000 feet the earth is richly detailed, a luxe version of the ‘physical’ (as distinct from ‘political’) maps in a school atlas. Only, as the plane rises farther, there is no guide to scale. There are no names printed on this map, no margin with answers to the questions that rise.

What is this river, flowing north and then east, its course dry with sand, traced only by little veins of water even in October? Why are some of those fields so richly red while the others are green-brown? Why are all the lakes straight-edged with dams on their northern sides? Parallel ridges run (presumably) west to east beneath the belly of the plane. Do they have names, are they full-fledged ranges or just taken for granted by the people who live in their shadow, nameless parts of their lives? Old water-courses are betrayed by their dark earth, the silt of centuries rich below the stark upper reaches of the plateau.

Off near the horizon, a sweep of tumulo-cirrus looks like a fish in motion, right down to the scales and flexed tail. Shadows. On the ground far below, shadows of the fluffball clouds that float beneath us. Layers of perception? Perhaps only layers of sight, but still, texture, dimension, even revelations. Suddenly, I want to be down there among the reeds on the shore of a lake, shading my eyes as I look up to see a cloud crossing the sun, the shadow cool, almost thirst-quenching in the October breeze and the respite from the day’s heat.

Or perhaps I’m better up here, sailing in a vessel of the sky, savouring a hot buttered croissant slathered with honey while I pontificate on the landscape below. No question. Given a choice, comfort over adventure any day.

****

Comfort.

NOT a term to associate with that airport. If the queue had been any longer, I could just have walked into it from the hotel door. IF one can find the end of the line, which snakes around on itself like a politician’s explanation. This, mind you, was just to get into the terminal. There was another line after check-in. A super-line. It stretched, it looped, it doubled, it split. It was one line trying to encompass the entire universe of queues. About 57,328 people, several thousand bawling kids, half a million large lumpy bags, trolleys that rode into my ankles. We moved a couple of feet every alternate year, I felt like I was putting down roots and wondered about the legal status of my retirement if it came around while I was still in line. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the occasional Galapagos tortoise or stegosaur lumbering along. THEN they asked us to trot over to another gate instead. That man has no idea how close he came to being disembowelled.

What is wrong with these people anyway? They can take over the IT world, get all the chavs and yobs and rednecks frothing, generate a billion dollars of revenue in a quarter, but they can’t see they need more security gates and personnel at the airport? The other airport has been in process for 6 YEARS now. What are the specs, are they planning for a space-shuttle landing? A LAUNCH, even? Morons!

More fun and games once ON the flight. Three of us had boarding passes for the same seat. The emergency row was full. Were we supposed to strap-hang all the way back to Cal?

Then I got an upgrade. And cold towels and orange juice and pillows and stuff. And, of course, buttered croissants and loads of honey. Which led to transformation from Stegosaurus-in-bad-mood to Bear-in-hunny-tree.

****

And ruminations. On things nice and not-so-nice.

Traffic, NOT nice. Definitely not nice. More like a bleeding nightmare, even past ten at night.

Jumbo prawns at Karavalli, very nice. Also the fish in the cascade pool outside, all yellow and orange and flashing, like those lines in Tartary and the illustration on the glossy page of an old old Radiant Reader …”and in my pools great fishes slant / their fins athwart the sun”. (Appams not-so-nice, though. Still have not found any place that matches Konkan Café and Chef Solomon)

Nice – the very polite signs that request ‘road-users’ to try an alternative route because there’s a Metro being built along MG Road. Not nice – a hoarding opposite the airport that shows a distinctly cross-eyed Jack Nicklaus. Faintly irritating – a HAL hoarding that says they are now ‘soaring and spreading their wings’. Surely they got that in the wrong order? (I loathe lazy copy anyway)

Nice – a suite looking out on a park and trees, with yellow flowers nodding outside the window. Very nice – mellow evening sunshine on the opposite wall and a cup of cream coffee with Frank SimoesGoa for company. Even nicer – some time up on the 13th floor at Barton Centre, they served green apple vodka and played Sultans of Swing.

Very very nice – two visits to Blossom, coming away with two Camilleris, a Dibdin, Mark Shand’s River Dog, Bryson, Barry, the complete Woody Allen and – oh crackers and cream cheese! – Patrick Leigh-Fermor’s A time of gifts. Blossom, what a treasure, what a delight. Enough reason in itself to move to this city.

Though there are some others ...

****

9 comments:

eve's lungs said...

A rich haul before the Pujas I see .

satanbug21 said...

So U have been traumatised by the " Techie-in-Company tee-and-Name tag" running arnd aerodrome of the City touted to be the NEXT Singapore...
( SH)it Happens...
now u know why i couldnt take the place for more than 6 months...

udayan said...

Errr ... isn't it cumulo-cirrus (a combo of cumulus & cirrus, now that the nimbus ones are gone)?

And the city of Pecos, Faanoos & Lazeez .... oh !!

Won't shift there in a million years, though.

Ron said...

From the first line of your airport description I just knew you had to be talking about Bangalore. Did you notice the craters they try to pass off as potholes on the road? How silly of me..how could you NOT notice them!? This city gets more and more un liveable with every passing day.

Daneel Olivaw said...

Are you shifting base to Bangalore? If so, with the kind of frequent travel you seem to do, there won't be any dearth of blog-worthy material about Bangalore airport. Heh, just try reaching the terminal in a car some evening when it rains.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

E Lungs, quite so. Now if only I can get a few hours at home each day.

SB, not too many of those, but a bad experience nevertheless.

Udayan, was working on tumulus. Mail me about these three joints you mention?

Ron, Daneel, there are nice things about Bangalore too. But I have no intention of moving there. Yet.

J.A.P.

Tabula Rasa said...

what - you make a hundred trips south of the vindhyas and still have no knowledge of pecos or fanoos? the chattering classes, i tell you.

Sue said...

But Blossoms in itself will do. Ok, and the draught beer will help matters along, of course.

Revealed said...

Everyone knows pecos! And some people have their names carved there. Or so I hear.