Holidays – horror days....!

No—this isn’t a sequel to the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” This is about something more banal — air travel — something which, once upon a time, was generally associated with good memories.

By Vivek Ramaswamy (Life)

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Published: Wed 17 Nov 2010, 9:42 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:28 AM

There was a time when holidays were a pleasure trip, filled with expectations, fun and generally good times. Remember the days when you actually looked forward to a holiday, when you got all excited about your trip to faraway lands – chances are, the last such “pleasure trip ” you had was before the turn of the millennium. All good things must come to an end and so have the joys of air travel on holiday. This is all the more true when it comes to international travel.

First the visa—this is truly a four letter word these days. The “chosen” have to undergo a battery of ordeals-physical and psychological-before the “host” country deems you eligible for an entry permit. This, after you fill out several forms in triplicate, provide samples of your DNA, your grandmother’s hair and finger-and-toe prints. Not to forget the iris scan. Makes you wonder if you are actually going on a holiday or are undergoing a physical at the hospital! Of course, the embassy will charge you an arm and a leg as “processing fee”—no guarantees please, this fee is only for the trouble the embassy takes to put you through all the trouble.

Finally, the elusive visa is now yours, Tickets are in hand. Time to leave all your worries behind and take off, right? Think again …

Let’s start with the check-in counter. More often than not, you are greeted by a jail warden at the desk with whom you play several rounds of “20 questions”. Some sample questions.

Warden (aka check-in-agent) - ‘’ Did you pack the suitcase yourself? ‘’

Passenger – ‘’Yes, I did’’.

W – ‘’Where was the suitcase before being packed? ‘’

P- ‘’On the loft’’

W – ‘’Who picked it up from the loft since you don’t look tall enough to reach it? ‘’

P -’’My brother’’

W- ‘’Aha, so you did not pack the suitcase all by yourself, did you? Security, we have a problem here!’’

The result—every item in your carefully packed suitcase can and will be exhibited publicly—all in the name of security. Well, what about my privacy please? I don’t particularly relish having my undergarments flashed in public you know! ‘’Hurry up please, pack up all your things. You are holding up the queue!’’ And whose idea was it to rip open my suitcase and comb through every item?!

Eventually you make it through passport control and reach the departure gates. Boarding time is like the Pamplona Bull Run festival. Hand baggage in one-hand, boarding card in the other, you make a dash at a speed that would make an Olympics gold medal-winning sprinter envious. And thus you board the aircraft—coach class since you don’t want to blow the entire budget on tickets alone. You squeeze into your seat and realise that a straightjacket seems lavishly opulent when compared to this. ‘’In the event of a crash, you have a better chance of survival if you are in a coach class. Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight,’’ says the flight attendant very reassuringly.

Help! I want to get off Now!

Vivek Ramaswamy is a freelance writer based in Dubai

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