Moo away, cows on airport runway

The airport analysis made me think of this movie recently I saw on Netflix.



By Nivriti Butalia

Published: Sun 7 Jan 2018, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 7 Jan 2018, 11:41 PM

"At Jomsom Airport in Nepal they had to clear the airstrip for buffalos before we landed." This is a comment under the most entertaining piece called Departure Gates of Hell in the latest issue of The Economist. It's about the world's worst airports. Reading it, I felt lacking in nightmarish airport tales. All I had were some mundane lost luggage tales, and a petulant crib about how the one time I went to Kashmir, at the Srinagar airport, they "confiscated" my nice shampoo. Bah, stupidity doesn't qualify as trauma.
But I, too, wanted to tick off having landed at some of these unsanitised ports to get a feel of the real thing, away from all the luxury and sanitised floors and loos of Dubai. Dubai, of course, constantly ranks amongst the best airports of the world, along with Helsinki and Singapore and Tokyo, even Mumbai now.
The piece talks about places most of which I have never visited. I am now in two minds about visiting South Sudan - except for that above mentioned (only 20 per cent) urge of getting a feel of the real thing.
Two anecdotes that will stay with me whenever these airports are mentioned:
"At Pyongyang, the plane played rousing music when we flew over the border into North Korea, and we were handed copies of the national newspaper and asked not to fold it, since it had a photo of Kim Jong 2 on the front page. The only consolation is that the airport has a chocolate-fondue fountain."
And this one: "At Santiago, Chile, a correspondent was detained for two hours for failing to declare an unopened, sealed bag of almonds."
In the glorious comments section - such richness! -  one reader has written disparagingly about a country I won't mention. He delves into passengers' hygiene habits. Says nasty things about the one collective part of their anatomies that "have never met water in their entire existence".
Other lists rank a bunch of predictable third world places as the worst of the worst.
An article on terrible airports on cheatsheet.com has called Venezuela's Caracas Simón Bolívar International Airport, "chaotic, uncomfortable, and dull". Dull?! That has to be the worst attribute. Whenever I go home to India, it's the one redeeming quality of any airport. Okay, maybe not the Coimbatore one; that's quite dull. So is Dehradun's Jolly Grant, but I love that place. Quaintness will trump dullness, anytime. Although, I think these articles were referring to international airports.
The airport analysis made me think of this movie recently I saw on Netflix, an Italian comedy - deal with the subtitles - called The Five Star Life or Viaggio Sola. It's about a jet-setting hotel inspector who spends 90 per cent of her time visiting plush hotels across the world, staying for two-three days, ranking their service, evaluating whether they deserve their five stars. She assesses whether the concierge made eye contact and used her name as she checked-in. She carries an inspection kit and slips on white gloves before she runs her fingers over framed prints that hang on room walls to check for dust. She inspects linens, people. Is the staff friendly without being familiar? She subtracts points on her laptop if waiters condescend to guests who don't know what eggs benedict are. She times the room service with a stop watch: how quickly is the trolley wheeled in? I enjoyed the movie, wishfully vied for that job. And I was thinking, inspecting five star hotels in Morocco and Shanghai and Berlin is one thing, but who on earth would want the job of airport inspector? And how many points would he or she deduct for cattle on the runway?
nivriti@khaleejtimes.com


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