Monday, June 14, 2010

Four hours at the Airport

          After a one of its experience in Bhutan, we had a return journey via Kolkata and  had a brief halt there as the next flight was after almost four hours. ‘Something’s in life which are inevitable have to be experienced’ was the kind of expressions on our faces. We had fairly sad experience of Kolkata international airport while leaving for Paro, Bhutan, so we thought that a similar situation was about to welcome us again. Nevertheless, we decided to spend the time in the domestic airport than roaming around with baggage in the city. After the initial calls back home about our arrival in the country, we started wondering about how will we undergo a ‘rather herculean task’ of spending time on the Kolkata airport.

          A decision rather unanimous proved unique for the platter. We sat in the common lobby and we were silent spectators to the people around us. A lot of police    commanded the space around us and for no reason did I think that a mere presence of these khaki cladded people brought in a sense of security. Even if they have proven to be futile, their being around meant a lot to feel protected, considering the recent terrorist outburst at public places in India. Amongst the crowd of policemen, I witnessed some of the security personnel dragging several men and children along the side aisle of the lobby. These shantily dressed men were held by their collars and manhandled by these security staff of the airport. They were seen carried to the airport manager and by the look and feel of it seemed like they were held for various thefts.

           A 360 degree view of the entire lobby area and surrounds gave me an insight of the kind of behavioral patterns human beings adapt to when in public. I saw lot of families sitting together and having a nice time, few young couples were seen engrossed all within themselves – not aware of the surroundings, while few of the elderly couples were all eyes on the scheduled flights. A lot of young individuals engaged themselves into self indulging gadgets to entertain themselves. One can realize the importance of the value added services the mobile provides in such situation. Rather than being a means to communicate, it also acts as a mean to entertain and fills in the void of loneliness.

           While observing all sorts of people around, my stomach signaled me its presence by asking for some food. I looked around several stalls and like a window shopper walked along several of those only to be halted at a small kiosk called ‘Pepsico- Sip and Snack’ as it attracted the attention of my eyes. As it offered some juices, I picked up one. More pleasing than the fruit juice was the manner in which the stall owner greeted his customers. He smiled and asked what I would like to have and I was slightly taken aback with the hospitality this guy projected. More than my hunger, his smile and gestures made sure that I do not leave his stall empty handed. A marketing gimmick as it may seem gave a humane touch to the business. I observed this guy for long later and realized that he greeted almost all of his customers in that manner. I realized the importance of a smile while at work too, it surely did create a magic!

            The excitement and anticipation of the kids around too captivated me for some time. The baggage trolleys available at the airport excited them and almost all kids rode the baggage trolleys sitting over them. A rise in the speed of movement than a walk gave them a high. They smiling faces while their parents moved the trolley in several directions were noticeable.
The fashionable and elegant models walked all around the huge lobby space – they probably were thinking that whole lobby space is a ramp as their heavy makeup and gait stood out.

            First three hours of looking around went peacefully as the next one hour proved to be full of action. We scrutinized the luggage and proceeded for the security check where my friends bag was detected with a liquid – a alcohol bottle he carried for his friends. The security recruits did not allow us inside the plane until we either threw the liquid or send it in the check in luggage. I saw the watch and we had hardly twenty minutes to board the flight. I ran across the lobbies to the counter, secured this stupid alcohol bottle into the checked-in luggage, paid some extra charges for overweight baggage, ran back to the security check in. All of this took twenty minutes of the time and we ran to board the plane.
‘Just get the hell out of here and let us sit in the plane’ thought both of us.
After initial three hours of relaxation and people gazing and the last one hour of fun filled action, Kolkata airport provided us with sheer excitement in the last four hours at the airport.