The delayed flight

The flight is delayed by a few hours. I am almost starting to enjoy the forced pause in my life. Everything is slower now and mind lingers on each thought. Pearl Jam is streaming into my ears singing Alive from my iPod. The Genius in the iPod touch seems to have picked some gems from my music collection and I am wondering how many more such  great connections it has already found. I settle into the seat in the waiting area prepared for the long wait.

Soon there is an announcement of a further delay. Someone from the airline staff walks up to me to inform me about the complementary snack the airline is offering to make up for the delay. The guy has a heavy Malayalam accent and he tells me how it is the folltt of the ATF in Mummbai. This is a different story than the one I heard from the guy at the ticket counter – both are probably just polite lies, and I choose not to be offended. He moves on spreading the cheerful news of the sandwich and the packaged juice to others who are waiting. I am feeling slightly less contended now. I need to find more ways to kill time, the book I am carrying is becoming a heavy read this late in the day.


I look around wondering if I can spot a billboard with the same message that I had seen on arrival three days ago when I had landed in Cochin. I am trying to remember the exact words – it said something like ‘Sacred SPACES are the ones that help you rediscover yourself… use this SPACE to connect with your brand, advertise with us’ – it was an advertisement for the billboard space itself. Even for Gods own country this is stretching things too far. I am not sure if the guy selling the billboard space had a twisted sense of humor or did he consider himself to be a genuine creative hack. I spot one by LIC bidding people Bon Voyage. Given that most journeys from here are merely a few hours long, and are no more the many-months-long adventures through uncertain waters, it is pretty much a meaningless sentiment. Right below that slogan is a message selling a plan to take care of the future of your kids, and with that I lose all the nice feeling I was starting to get about LIC and their concerns about my travel travails.

Maybe there is a no gentle way to sell anything. Reminded me of a conversation from yesterday with my colleagues over breakfast, about how Google can create a doodle with the name Talash, and what a great promotion is will be for the upcoming Aamir’s movie too. While it was a great creative thought, I was appalled at the thought of anyone even suggesting that Google sell out its landing page in return for money, no matter how subtly they do it. For me that would lower the trust that Google has built with people somehow, but some of my colleagues saw it no more than a nice space to sell. Maybe I am being puritan about it and am classifying traditional advertising and marketing on the wrong side of Evil. Maybe I wish for some things to be authentic and free beyond the concerns of money. It felt like a sellout though I could not put my finger on the exact reason why, and felt mildly irritated at not having defending my point of view properly. Google afterall is a private concern with a revenue goal, and some of the leading newspapers do sellout even their mast-heads, with no apparent impact on their equity. But good for Google that lay-people have such passionate views on it, dont know if the same passion exists for the newspaper brands indulging in such practices. Will revisit this question another day in another blog.


I start noticing how people are spending their time waiting. Some seem to be connecting with their kids, spouse, friends, companions in deeper more meaningful ways than they would probably have done in normal circumstances. After the first hour of being with someone it is just not possible to keep up the polite social pretences. You need to open up a bit more and establish genuine connection. Amongst the lot, the kids seem to be the happiest and have found some game or the other to keep themselves happy. Those travelling alone are really uncomfortable sitting with themselves with nothing to do. Stress is building up in the room a bit now. With the cheap air tickets available so easily, airport is thronging with people from all social strata.

I see a girl in a skirt walk past. Three guys follow her legs as she walks past them. She isnt pretty and the skirt is a bit too short for the shape of her legs. She has nice red ear-rings, lots of cheap jewellery wrapped on her neck, and a sports bag slung on her back – she looks incongruently accessorised. I can imagine her self-image to be that of some sort of a gypsy-nomad. But she is also pretty brave to experiment with her looks so drastically  knowing that she will surely attract stares esp when we Indians consider staring our birthright – I catch myself committing the same crime and casually glide my eyes away. Another blond girl walks past dressed in ridiculously colourful and loose dress, but she seems to just carry it off so simply. Maybe my mind just creates a separate space that makes allowances for ‘foreigners’ and their quirks. Men are predictably and boringly dressed. Most are in their polyester pants, and the hipper ones are in denims – the cloth that is probably the most unsuited for India’s climate. Male of the human species actually let down the entire male sex across the animal kingdom since in most other species it is the males with the more colourful plumage.


Some people from my group have headed into town to a popular spices marketplace, but I have no enthusiasm for it. Where is the sense of discovery in any town today? Even though I have come here for the first time 1400 km away from home, but everything is familiar. The homogenisation of the cities (atleast within India) is a curse, and you need to look hard to spot something new. I cant think of anything in the marketplace that I wont get around my house in Mumbai. Maybe also because shopping isnt a stress-buster for me so I dont see the adventure in it. The better part of the trip was experiencing the resort where I was for the last 3 days. It was nice, though resorts are fairly homogenised space too and it really dosent matter where they are.

Queue has started forming in anticipation of the boarding time. The journey home will be a predictable routine – the seating, the announcements, the food, trying to catch some reading and them some sleep, and then the landing in the familiar city. Even though we will be flying at over 700Km/hr, above 35000 Ft and outside it will be 35 degrees Celsius below freezing point, it will all feel like I am sitting in my living room chair although with cramped leg space. Journeys are not about any sense of physical movement any-more  It is now merely about finding ways to use that travel time to catch up with rest, or entertainment, or your thoughts – mostly unrelated to the journey itself. That is progress I guess…

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+1Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone

Facebook comments:


  1. tirathmuchhala says:

    Daym. Your post reminds me of Seinfeld. It’s about nothing and still manages to be awesome! And yes, human males are a disgrace I say! Bring out the colours! 😛

Speak Your Mind