14 Jul 2008

The airport list

The rains are here and I get that feeling again.... so here goes another list.

Have been documenting a series of remarkable projects throughout the country for the last three months which involved a lot of different kinds of transport and being treated to many stoppages at airports. Which meant delays. Which led me to thinking. And this post.

1. The smallest airport in India has to be Dibrugarh. Among the the ones where large planes land. The arrival and waiting lounge were twice the size of my drawing room and the entire structure was still covered with the age old tin roof. As we waited for our furniture...no luggage... another plane landed and a 100 more passengers walked in. Soon the place was looking like the men's loo during a film interval.

2. Rajahmundry threw up a surprise. Our flight had a high proportion of big built foreigners who did not look like tourists. When our plane landed we saw another group walking towards a helicopter. The two groups stopped and conferred in the middle of the tarmac. No officials rushed in to separate them. It seemed like they were discussing a golf putt on a summer afternoon.

3. The messiest one has to be Delhi. A new passenger would simply give up after a point with so many twists, turns and surprises. When will the "up gradation" end and we get "world class" facilities? Of course with Delhi becoming the busiest airport in the country life will only get interesting.

4. The golf cart award goes to Hyderabad. With these cute looking things transporting you around, I temporarily forgot the long drive to the city.

5. The longest line was at Kolkata. It actually went down a floor along an escalator. Thankfully it was not moving. The escalator. Not the line.

6. The silliest staff award went to Kingfisher. I know they have taken over Deccan but what is the point of having the same airline staff as Kingfisher? You get into the plane imagining that maybe you have been upgraded to Kingfisher although your ticket says Deccan. Half way through the flight you realise that they were only there to smile. There is no other service. Everytime they pass you they smile. They looked lost flying a low end airline.

7. Experience a Banana Republic. Go to Srinagar. Here the staff does not guarantee that you will get to the car parking alive. Most people run with their luggage to the cars and drive out of the complex as if it can explode any time. The security staff checks you millions of times and still they are suspicious. So they ask you to identify your luggage one last time. First I took it seriously but then when they asked us to put the luggage in the cart that would take it to the plane, I realised this was their way of saving money on extra staff.

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