Sunday, November 19, 2006

Air Travel in the U.S

I have been flying a lot in the recent past. Flying so much that sometimes, I land and check my boarding pass to find out where the hell I just landed. The whole security check before the flight is so funny. It is so painful to get up in the morning, pack, dress up ( i hope this is different from wearing a 'dress') and then go to the airport. The moment you go there they ask you to unpack, undress (shoes, belts and stuff) and then quickly put it all back again in less than 1 minute.

The whole thing seems so artificial. You are standing there in a line like a dead log for 15 minutes and then once you get close to those x-ray machines, your activity level drastically goes up. You take your laptop out in a hurry, remove shoes, remove belt, coat take your cell phone, wallet keys out. Walk through that detector gate and quickly put all these back on and leave in a minute. Some of us feel the time pressure that we have to do all this in record time, some of us (read as old people) do it so slowly that you need a shave by the time they are done.

Then there are these people who feel they have accomplished something if they cross that metal detector without a whistle from that machine. They have this smug look on their face when they walk. The self-rightous, "Look at me - I am such a nice person - I am so safe" look as they tip-toe through the small gate. They walk slowly and carefully as if - speeding - would tick off some sort of an alarm. When you reach the other side of the gate you hope for a trophy or an award for being the safest man on earth. But all you get is a signature and an unspoken mandate to dress up and leave quickly.

Some times you get good company in the aircraft, sometimes you dont wanna talk to people at all. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to meet a very diffent co-passenger (yes! my "single serving friend"). He was so excited from the moment he got on the flight. He must have been around 22-23 years old. We were approaching Detroit, and he kept peering closer into the window (I was in window and he was in aisle) and said "Detroit so beautiful. Its the best place in the world". I was surprised. I mean we just flew out of Chicago, which according to me was just awesome. And this was Detroit we were talking about. The fungus of America. And he was pointing to the small lights far far away and said "see christmas lights. its so beautiful". I couldn't resist but ask him "is this where you are from?" and he said "yes". We landed and I could visually see his excitement level increasing. It was unmistakable. He was behaving exactly the same way I would behave every time I landed in Madras. After the permission was given to switch on the cell phone, I called up my wife and told her I had landed. The guy apparently heard my foriegn tongue and asked me "Do you speak Urdu?". I told him I didn't speak Urdu. He then asked "where are you from". I told him - India. "But dont Indians speak Urdu?" he said confused. I said "well.. some, not all, Muslims in India speak Urdu". So I asked him where he was flying in from. He said " from Iraq".

Wow!
Okay. So he explained that he had spent 2 years with the US military in the Iraq War Zone and is now coming back to the U.S for good. And we started talking abaout staying away from family etc ( although my case wasn't even remotely similar to his). He actually got to talk to his parents over the phone - from Iraq. He also said he worked with the Indian military a lot (in iraq??). Well! its hard to even imagine how his emotions would be like and what kind of excitement he was going through that moment? Sweating it out 2 years in a war zone and making it back to see his parents. It is probably one of the happiest moments he would ever experience in his life. I suddenly felt all emotional and happy for him. I told him that also.

8 comments:

rads said...

those last few lines were totally 'aww' :-)

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

A gem of a post, sire! And that part about the smug look and trophy bit was simply howlarious! :)) :))

logic said...

Is the indian army really in iraq??.. you should have questioned him more on tht... hmm you shd have secretly recorded it and given to NDTV ;)

Juggernought said...

That was a beautiful post:) You're lucky to be able to travel so much and meet so many people-so don't complain about flying so much and cherish all those frequent flier points!:):)

Oh,and I've blogrolled you !:)

hamsini here,btw.

jameshkoler said...

Your BLOGS are very nice and all the stapes also well.
But i also give a segation-
http://www.fun-reisen.de

Santosh said...

That comment on people actions in between th security gates was very hillarious. Will remember to notice it the next time i travel.

Babs said...

Have u heard that dance number "Put your hands up for Detroit"....just got reminded of that......

BTW awesome post machi.....

Ahh on a diff note saw Presitge yesterday...man it was mind blowing.....these Nolan bros know how to narrate aiyee....fan-bloodi-tastic...and also heard Royale is cool...being a bond fan u shd have seen it by now....:-)

Sachita(india) said...

Did you come up with post standing in those security lines. How did you manage not to chuckle in the security lane with such hilarious thoughs runnng in your head?

Indian army in Iraq? I thought we decided no on it. Are they trying to hide it from us and secretly sending the army to Iraq?