August 25, 2008,
Somewhere above the Arabian Sea.
I was watching 'Luck by Chance' (Farhaan Akthar is one helluva talented person!) on the in flight entertainment system, when all of a sudden the air hostess announced in a highly put on accent,
'Ladies and Gentlemen, we have begun our descent. We will arrive in Mumbai in about 20 minutes. Fasten your seat belts, fold your tray table and keep your seats upright'
She continued to bark out some more instructions. 20 minutes! Damn! I still had 35 minutes of the movie left. Seeing my frustrated look, the techie on the other side of the aisle told me that the Jet guys allow you to sit in the aircraft for an additional 5-10 minutes in case you wanted to complete watching the movie. I told him that I was not going to give him company. I was in a hurry and wanted to catch a full nights sleep. And considering that I normally sleep at 9 30, I had already lost out on valuable time. So even if it meant sacrificing the climax of a movie on which I had wasted the best part of the last two hours, I was game.
I scrambled ahead and was among the first few to alight. Before immigration they had the swine flu screening. It was a total farce. We were given a simple form to fill which asked us how many times we had sneezed in the last week and whether we were in contact with anyone affected by the virus. That form was then stamped by a group of sleepy officials who every five minutes removed their masks, to squeeze in a long yawn. The female operating the thermal sensor had dozed off and switched it on after a dozen or so passengers had already passed her.
After immigration, I proceeded to get my luggage. The baggage belt is the greatest leveler. For 20 minutes, all of us, economy class, club class, first class and crew members were waiting for our luggage. Then the initial set of bags came. I spotted my techie friend arriving. He picked up the first 2 bags he could lay his hands on and left. Some times life just isn't fair.
After I finally got my luggage, I completed the customs formalities. With the free allowance substantially increased in the last few years, the custom officers are a pale shadow of their former blood sucking selves. The half an hour night ride home took me 45 minutes thanks to the Ganesh Chaturti festivities. I finally reached home at one in the night and as dragged my bags to the elevator I did something I hadn't done even once in the last 24 days. I took out my kerchief and wiped the sweat off my brow.
10 months ago