nearly two weeks ago i wrote my last blog. i was in Kolkata then trying out fuming coffee at the college street coffeehouse. the next few days after that entry were hectic. i had to run around the city, meet some friends and relations, and work out deals with my business partners. finally the last day dropped on me like a broken egg on sauce pan. my father woke me up early morning and i had to slumber heavily to the airport for my flight back to hyderabad.
the airport looked emptier probably for the less amount of traffic in the monsoon months. the security did not let my father in. they were blocking "outsiders" from entering airport this freedom ( read August) month. i had to rush in, waving an untimely good bye and a shake of hands, father melting away in the haze of the morning.
i remembered the older avatar of Dum Dum airport as i went through a series of security checks.
i was a little child of six or seven when i boarded a plane first. those were really elite days in the airport. no one spoke words more than what were necessary and flying was a luxury you could afford if your father's office paid the air fare. aeroplanes fascinated me then. watching these things flying would fill me with an awesome dread.
In those days the Dum Dum airport was cleaner. people spoke in english, wore suits and costly saris. there was a small canteen where sandwiches cost eighteen rupees. the air hostesses were cool pretty women who gave you heart breaks. and yes it was only indian airlines then. the hostesses i remember would pamper me because i was a fluffy koala kid.
deep down i have always associated the Dum Dum airport with my forbidden introversion. its cleanliness, its elitism as spaces of high hygiene, superior aesthetics, something that is incompatible with the Kolkata i have grown up with.
but that Dum Dum for better or for worse is no more. Dum Dum is now like any other over crowded unclean shopping malls in the city. only the air condition helps. the wonder is suddenly gone.
i board a kingfisher air craft where over worked air hostesses wear garish make ups. the worst part is their smile. i can't stand the mechanical good byes and "welcome aboard"s. they look like cheer leaders to me. i guess the old classy feeling of flying on plane is gone with the large down cut in the plane fares. However, even though i enjoy the benefits of flying because of this reduced fare, i still cherish the Indian Airlines classiness.
in Kingfisher flights the air hostesses do not show you the security drill. supermodel Yana Gupta appears on a small screen attached to the seat in front showing you the drill. i switch off the screen. i can't stand heartless show of concern. i remember Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation.The
fast food industry teaches emotional drills to its employees: you can never be pissed off with your customer, always smile etc. i think the air hostesses in these new airlines are like that, drilled to smile, drilled to hide their inner anger.
i spend the flight sleeping. when i was a kid i would always feel like looking out the window for possible movement. now i generally take the aisle seat just to avoid that inner rush of kiddishness, of peering out and looking for wonder where there isn't any.
given my introversion i long for those quiet "leave me alone" days of flying experience when i would have to read out for my mother the basic instructions on " how to ask for a glass of water on an aeroplane". my mother would later boast how smart i have become.
a smart kid who somehow grew to choose a bad aisle seat to get bumped by air hostesses every time they passed by.