Simply fly via India's many modern airports

Even on the way out, Delhi airport was lovely. No queues. Suddenly a place of chirping birds, rainbows ­- in my mind, that is.

By Nivriti Butalia (Meanderings)

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Published: Sun 27 Jan 2019, 8:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 27 Jan 2019, 10:12 PM

'Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.' You know the airline. Every time I take it, I curse myself (and them). But it's worth enduring the redundant speedy babble that those women, always women, enunciate shockingly poorly in order to save a couple of hundred dirhams.
Diction classes apart, has no one brought it up with the CEO or a decision-maker of that company to shorten the drivel? Spare our ears. Stop after 'gentlemen'. If the intention is to target the youth and make them feel acknowledged, it doesn't work. You're effectively saying boys and girls aren't ladies and gentlemen but uncouth, fresh-off-the-boat types. That's my reading of it, anyway.
Over the weekend, boys and girls, I boarded one of these flights from Dubai to Delhi. And while no credit to the airline, I've never had a smoother run at the airport. Dubai's e-gate is bliss, in any case. Especially now that I have drilled it into my head that just the Emirates ID will do, the passport lies in my bag.
Security check was a breeze. Not too crowded. Nothing lost. Watch, belt, laptop - all retrieved. And this was the terminal that, let's face it, no one prefers to the Emirates one.
Even on the way out, Delhi airport was lovely. No queues. Suddenly a place of chirping birds and rainbows ­- in my mind, that is. There was one person before me at the immigration. The officer must've wondered who this grinning nut-job was before his eyes. Even my suitcases showed up on time. What's more testing to your patience than staring at a conveyer belt, crabby that every other Tom, Dick and Harry has collected his/her luggage when yours is being coy?
At the Delhi airport, even the taxi line was a sight to behold. It's never been smoother. I kept thinking back to my worst post-flight experience on this route: hands down the three-hours it took to get out of the airport, demonetisation time.
The queues, the ATMs, the no-cab, the throbbing head.
This time, a cherry on the tart, as I wheeled my trolley out of the exit, was the fresh smell of rain; its presence so acute in that early morning hour that my mood didn't sour even when I saw one hat-wearing man, hardly a gentleman, yell at his wife as she struggled to swerve her suitcase-laden trolley. Nor when some panting boor cut the cab queue, totally ignoring the four people already lined up, and jammed himself at the counter. That was the Delhi I know. And it was fun to watch people in the queue straighten out the boor - like, 'Uh uh, not so fast pal, get in line'.
I asked Manoj Kumar, the cabbie (old guy, hawking cough; just to make conversation), how come the air in Delhi is so fine? Manoj Kumar told me the rain this past week had cleared up the air and turned the skies blue. He hadn't seen blue skies in Delhi for years. People were driving with windows down. It was good to be in Delhi breathing this only marginally unhealthy air.
In the half hour drive home, the cabbie showed himself to be a cricket aficionado who happily declared that he didn't work whenever India played. Then he corrected himself: he worked, but only a little bit.
He had full faith that the World Cup was ours (India's) this summer if only Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli stood their ground. He spoke of his hero, Sachin Tendulkar, and his favourite memory of the man: a match in Sharjah in 1998 when a dust storm descended to mark a legendary Tendulkar innings.
I had no idea what he was on about, but it amused me to hear so much enthusiasm from an elderly bhai sahib at a pre-dawn hour. He rapidly spat out one cricket name after another with corresponding trivia. Allan Border, Vivian Richards, Mark Greatbatch, Don Bradman.
I tried to get him to talk about something else; which party he thought would come into power in India this year.. He didn't bite the bait. All that didn't matter to him. His world was cabs and cricket. I was inclined to believe the man that he really does shed tears whenever Kohli gets out.

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