Monday, July 25, 2011

Flights of Life

An airport is never a dull place. Though it may not be a great idea to reach an airport 3 hours early, it certainly is a great time for a study in human behaviour. If you are lucky to be in a good mood inspite of the long queues at the ticket or check-in counters, you may well be surprised at the sheer variety of human species around you. There are people of all kinds - seasoned travellers, novices, well-behaved gentlemen, snooty aunties - they all add their own shade to the canvas.

There may be times when a gentleman in front is filling in for his entire family of 8 with tonnes and tonnes of luggage. Strangely deceptive, one may feel, while one spends the next quarter of an hour waiting for the aunties to sort out which bag will be checked in and where the bottles of achar should go. While it is the perfect way to a foul temper, a detached soul can smile at the predicament of the hapless head-of-the-family as he tries to fend off the embarassment and bring some order to the setup. Straight from one of Wodehouse's pages!

Move ahead to the check-in counter and one may encounter a long queue. There always is someone who has a bottle of cough syrup neatly tucked in the bag for her kid; or the lady who forgets to take her boarding pass out of the handbag before she checks it in. Then comes the long wait for the flight. One may be seated next to a Chilean family, not understand a word of what they are saying and yet know that the mother is scolding her daughter for not sitting still while she braids the kid's hair. One may see an old couple waiting patiently for their flight, silently grateful that they have each other for company. There are professionals who scream into their cell phones while pacing near the doors; and parents who have a tough time ensuring their kids do not wander off.

Humans. This grand prologue to the travel makes the flight itself pale in comparison. Its best to catch up on some sleep.