Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday night and Thursday morning

Some things are as inevitable as death and taxes. Like the announcement from the cockpit once the lights of Bombay are in sight. Traffic congestion, holding pattern, “40 minutes to land”. Get on with it already. We KNOW we can’t land on time in Bombay, the odds are like hitting six sixes and getting a double hat-trick. In the same match. Why don’t you just shut up and let us sleep?

Sleep PAST the landing, if possible. Because it takes them a quarter of an hour to open the doors. While fat men stand in the aisle, like they have to be the first ones out that door, like it’s the start of a triathlon and not a disembarkation. And no matter whether it’s the morning flight or the late-night one, they’ll stink. This flight, they’ve boarded after a long day. Without showering. It’s only marginally better than the morning flight, when you can make out that some of them have left home without pooping and the prospect of the airport loos has stirred their stomachs.

Haven’t they heard of aerobridges? The bus to the terminal takes forever. They must have parked the plane a LONG way away. Like not just a different postal zone, a different TIME zone. While yet another fat man, oozing over the waistband of his jeans, reaches up to steady himself with the straps. Thus bringing his fragrant underarm to the same level as my face. All the perfumes of Araby etc. The situation is further spiced by the driver taking evasive action. To avoid an AIRLINER. I knew Bombay traffic is weird, but this is taking it a little too far.

This city never sleeps. Traffic – only cars this time – still snarls up the turn-off from the flyover. Which has a pocked surface, the kind caused by water retention. Excuse me? On a sloping surface? What did they use for topping, bread crumbs? And the piety. Prabha Devi, Mahim Church, Haji Ali – all crowded at a quarter past ten. Finally, the turn on to the road by the sea. And hel-looo, what have they DONE on this new building? A huge glass prism that changes colour? If I were in the next building and that monster blinked in my bedroom window, I’d get some RDX!

Fortunately, the buffet is still open when I check in. Who cares about good tenderloin turning into beef jerky, I’m starving. And the café Viennoise (YOU tell ‘em, Amit) afterwards is good. Sleep is slow to come, but I can look out of the window at the winking lights across the water.

The morning smoothes away all the little mind-wrinkles of the journey in. I wake up on the 28th floor, looking out on the bay. Tiny boats, wave patterns, cloud shadows, lines of surf, and the new towering Bombay skyline. And for the cream swirl and cherry to top off the morning, my first meeting is cancelled. Carpe diem!


Anonymous said...

"And the café Viennoise (YOU tell ‘em, Amit) afterwards is good."

Good? Merely good? A pox on you, dadamoni, for maligning the best coffee in Bombay with your acrid understatement.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

ah, well, welcome to manic mumbai. don't run down the fat men too much, though, they're the ones who hold the purse-strings of the country in their hands (when they are not scratching their armpits, that is).

Unknown said...

Helloo you're scaring me - I have a trip to Bombay coming up next week. BTW - a front aisle seat , I find,solves a lot of issues .

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Great One, I thought you preferred the coffee at the Marine Plaza?

Sucharita, the purse-string men these days run marathons. Look around you.

E Lungs, you're right about the first row, but that's better on Indian. I fly Jet.


Anonymous said...

i've wondered at length on the absurdity of standing up and crowding the aisles as soon as the planes come to a halt ... when one knows that it'll take a good 15 mins before you can actually move !!!

Its actually a combo of habit and herd mentality ... like folks rush in to grab a seat and jump out of Mumbai local trains .... a few actually do this and everyone else follows ... even when the bogeys are half empty there is no real need to do so ...

My theory is that the pot bellied middle aged men are the true culprits ... they acquired the habit years ago while returning from international flights .... and were in this mad rush to cut the time spent on the long immigration queues ... that habit spilled over on domestic flights as well without any need ... and others started following their cue blindly.