I just love airports – the atmosphere they enclose, the lingering smell of air fresheners (airport smell!), flat screen T.Vs plugged in here and there, coffee machines, the lounges, book-stores, souvenir shops, sofa-chairs that one could sink into, periodic announcements, flights taking off and landing, and mostly, the multifarious populace pouring in and out, and the emotions writ on their faces.
Airports have always held good memories for me. An airport has undoubtedly been a part of every fabulous trip I have had so far. Come to face it, a tour to the States, Singapore, or Thailand, or any other exotic destination begins by entering an airport. A blast of cool conditioned air welcomes you, as the automatic doors slide out to usher you in.
All the luggage? Check.
We are geared and all set to go.
Airplanes form the climax. The destination is the ending. The planning and organizing bit of the trip is the plot, according to me. I love to recollect the whole process while I sit in an airport, eagerly awaiting our flight announcement. I haunt the bookstores. Occasional cappuccinos rejuvenate me. Earphones are seated comfortably in my ears. My fingers fiddle with my iPod buttons.
‘Course, this is what I experience once the holiday is about to begin.
In contrast, the feeling while coming back is mixed with a bit of sadness and longing. Holiday blues, they say. The airport is the sole, physical remainder of the wonderful trip, and I usually love to savour those final moments.
Once, our return flight to Pune from Goa got postponed to the next day owing to bad weather. I rejoiced, while my parents stood glaring at me.
It isn’t vacation time for everyone. Often, one gets to see upset faces; heartbroken, angry, impatient, and sometimes ridden with worry.
Indian airports are known for their cacophonies.
Large Gujarati families comprising trendily dressed housewives, who are thrilled at prospect of breaking away from their households, jovial husbands, and extra boisterous kids, are usually spotted at the international terminals. Newly weds occupy the cozy corners. The wife has an array of bright red bangles, covering almost half her arms. Intricate henna designs on her hands. The gold adorning her seems strangely mismatched with her casual denims.
Punjabi and Tamilian dads can be heard talking on their phones, even if they are miles away; booming voices that attract truckloads of attention, whilst their kids shirk away in sheer embarrassment (been there, done that).
And the infants! Fragile looking creatures that fool you when they bawl their lungs out. Stuffing milk bottles into their mouths may relieve their harrowed mothers (whom I really pity, no kidding!).
The corporate guy looks bored out of his skull. Another one is seen conversing heatedly with a voice on the other end of his smartphone.
You have the NRIs, who are usually bewildered by the bedlam around them. You could probably hear the sounds of those wonderful images built in their heads about India, shatter instantly.
And then amidst the horde of brown faces, you might spot a few white ones, looking slightly disoriented, as they try to locate the baggage counter. The smug expression on the Indian bystander’s face clearly says, “Don’t expect signs to direct you.”
The scenario outside the airport? Chaos and clamour in simple words. You can see ones’ family, escorts and drivers, falling over each other, holding name placards, as they valiantly crane their necks to look out for whomever they’re waiting for.
Indians usually forget that boarding a plane is quite different from boarding a train. Local trains narrate a different story altogether, and I really, really don’t feel like delving into that. Anyway, the thing is, there is absolutely no need to rush or shovel while climbing onto a plane, but, old habits don’t die fast, so…you can predict what’s going to happen next.
That’s more or less how it is done out here.
Yet, airports are good. I associate them with all things good.
Most movies end at an airport. There comes the romantic aspect. I mean, a guy deserting his flight for you just ’cause he has realized the inevitable, would be the best possible thing ever.
Well, all I’m trying to say is that most people tend to forget how important an airport is. It can bring about reunions. Or sometimes, separation.
A place that provides you with small luxuries.
Or it can just be the start to a great memory. Every airport has memories attached to it.