Escapade no.5. This time to the southern delight of the capital of India.
As usual, with a bunch of lies and deceit, I rushed out of home and headed towards the domestic airport. It was gloomy and then the skies cried their heart out. By time I reached the airport, I said to myself, “buffer time just found some leisure”. With 25 mins for the boarding to close, I was well within time. This was the first time I was going to fly by Air India, reason being it was the cheapest, so, I didn’t think twice. And with its cheap rates, the infamous reputation of Air India followed me there. As I presented my identification and the e-ticket, the security guard casually said, “Yeh toh international airport se udegi”. I was shocked and panicky then. To my series of questions, he simply said; go ask the information desk at the corner. As I briskly walked towards the never-before seen information desk, I got this hunch to ask one more policeman, and as luck had it, he was concerned and asked me to run towards a girl who was rushing to the international airport. And then we both took an auto and asked him to speed along. As the driver wasn’t in uniform, we had to switch autos. The new auto guy asked for additional fare, without thinking twice, I agreed. After giving Jenson Button a handsome 50 bucks for his talent, we entered the gates of Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Thankfully, we were escorted ahead towards check in. For the first time, my Copy of Pan Card was questioned. I was baffled, but then resisted an argument and promised to carry the original next time. It was here, I discovered that the flight is off to Shanghai with a stopover at Delhi.
The crowd present there reminded me of a railway station back in the harbour line of Bombay, unkempt, unorganized and filthy. So much for buying the cheapest ticket!
But, I was looking forward to Delhi and another experience from the same. As I stepped inside the plane, I was pleasantly surprised to be in my first Boeing with a three row seating system. I thought to myself, not bad for the cheapest ticket.
To add to that, there was free breakfast and in-flight entertainment!
The in-flight entertainment was some movie starring John Abraham’s acting mentor – Bobby Deol and Miss I can’t enunciate bastard – Kangana Ranaut. It’s a real shame to showcase such movies to the flying foreigners and ruin our reputation along the way. But have to admit, beyond the shame, when you see the songs with English Subtitles, you cannot help laugh at the sorry state of Bollywood. One such song is where Bobby is going on every hill-top, spreading his arms and singing, “The sun seems so bright, The sky seems so blue”, and repeating the same 3 times. Sometimes it can get so funny, that it ain’t funny. Anyhue, after the somewhat decent flight, I landed at the recently opened Delhi International Airport, Terminal 3 A or something like that. And it was spectacular. The sight and experience of walking on a travelator was pretty neat. The cherry on the cake was that I got to see the Duty Free Shop, Usque Baugh – The Single Malts store; I had been working on back in office. Once stepped out, a shuttle dropped me to the domestic airport, where I met up with my girl. But yeah, the morning had been rather eventful.
After exchanging ‘greetings’, we sped towards a certain popular place called ‘Dilli Haat’. A kaleidoscope of cultures and cuisines, I’d finally come to a place I only heard in conversations before. A hangout place for the young blood of Delhiites, the crowd was a fair mix of all age groups. This was the first time I indulged in the phamous MOMOS. Nagaland greeted me with its speciality of momos and the succulent meat wrapped around the steamed dumpling was a treat to your taste buds. Delhi offered Bhalla Paapri, while Rajasthan rounded it off with a lip smacking pot kulfi. To add to this, there was a Rajasthani celebration of dance and songs at the heart of Dilli haat.
And then we were off to the posher side of Delhi. While we checked in, the biggest blunder of my absent-mindedness had taken place. I had forgotten my netbook at the security check at the Bombay Airport. It was here when I really understood the phrase, balls in one’s mouth. And such behaviour was simply intolerable. And now, with me in another city, another state; was not one bit comforting. The drive to undo this blunder got my brains working. I spoke to the airlines and then the Airport Manager. He asked me to wait till evening. And time had beaten my ability to outrun him again. I gave in and was being patient.
Evening came sweet. After the reassurance of the netbook being safe, we ate our heart out at a kathi roll stall. The food in Delhi makes me want to stay there. Actually so do the roads and the infrastructure. The Bombay spirit is missing, but then I’m being unfair. But yes, for a short time in my life, I will make Delhi home for sure. Coming back to the rolls, juicy meat wrapped in rumali and normal roti accompanied by the best bottled Ice Tea I’ve ever had, brought a smile to my paunch and my senses.
What followed hereafter was one of the funniest incidents I’d ever witnessed in a wine shop. They call it a “theka” there. My idea of a wine shop has been very simple so far. People know what they want, they ask for it, pay for it, and leave the shop with hope to celebrate/immerse their sorrows in the alcohol just bought. When I entered the store, I saw a huge cardboard box filled with quarters of whisky. And people were buying it by the price and not the brand. The price ranged from 35 to 55 bucks. Within this chaos, I asked for a bottle of wine. The surprise of the owner was a true ‘Kodak Moment’. As baffled he was, he clarified it would cost me 500 bucks. As I handed him a crunching 500 Rupee note, his amazement grew further. Looking at the strange expressions of fellow buyers, I walked past them and back into the auto.
The wine was good, so was the food, but what I’m savouring from this entire trip is the adventure.
P.s: The next day I landed in Bombay at the domestic airport. Ran home. Picked up my passport. Ran to the International Airport. And reclaimed my netbook. Phew.