20 June 2006

Oh Calcutta!

,Phew! so after a hectic couple of months now I can look forward to an even hectier (if there is such a word) "vacation" of five days - I am going to good old Bhubaneswar. The gigantic problem is going to BBSR takes 40 hours by train, a time whch I can scarce spend it in "commuting" if I have only 5 days and flying costs a packet, so after much research I found out this: Take the late night (oh not that late : 2040) Deccan air flight to Calcutta (ok ok Kolkata) and then take the morning flight to BBSR ... so thats how I am right now sitting in Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport and found what ... a 24 hour lightening fast cyber cafe (but expensive: Rs50). The flight was full of weirdos or may be my slight pyrexia was making me feel it this way. Firstly a Bong auntyji conveniently ran her trolley over my foot and then got her three children with obnoxious luggage to jump the line as well. I was looking for an opportunity to get back at them it came in avery strange way: The son was playing with his mobile when the serpentile line had progressed much further so I told him "Chalo Dada"! Somehow it gave me a perverse pleasure to see the way the boy reacted with a startle!
If the recent privatization of the Mumbai has brought any changes it is not very visible. There are long lines, poor announcement system (infact very partial to Jet Airways) few monitors and none of them is conveniently located - all looking at your back when you are facing a marble pillar.
Ok that was a digression. The boarding line was a great mystery to me, even though the flight had not been announced people had crowded the boarding gate into a situation worse than railway reservation counters. Agreed there was free seating but the rush at the gate made me wonder if the last passenger would be given standing space only! Anyways I was the last in the line when the flight was finally announced and then lo miracle! they opened another counter and I was first!!! I had been warned that boarding a Air Deccan flight can turn into a stampede worse than any at the Haj pilgrimage but there was no such thing. The seats were packed, and vey limited reclining and of course astronomically priced food but I had come prepared with my dabba packed with sandwiches. Somehow I slept very soundly and woke up to the announce ment of approaching Calcutta. The lights over calcutta looked dimmer than over bombay, may be it was later in the night. Bombay really looks like a bejewelled city from air. I get down at Cal and smell the city: wet, smoke, stink and a humid warmth just like it has always been.
The next part is the toughest: finding a place or rather a space to sleep in the airport without being shoved out by some CISF boot. The chairs are comfortable for sittinf but not for sleeping. There are central pillars surrounded by some cushions but every inch of it is already occupied by people. To make matters worse, no tea! Just then I found this cyber cafe!
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