Monday, January 04, 2016

Horizontally up in the air

My stomach was beginning to grumble.  I hadn't anticipated such a long line at the immigration desk at the Chennai airport--to get out of the old country, that is.  My original plan was to eat the four idlis that mother had packed in a ziplock bag after I was done with immigration and security check.  But, now, here I was in a slow-moving line.

My stomach grumbled more.  I took out the ziplock bag.  Idlis with the mildest coating of milagai podi.  My stomach welcomed the idea.

One after another, all the four idlis were gone.   More than a few people around me were watching me eat; I am sure many of them were equally hungry as I was.

I was still a long way way from the front of the line.  At least my stomach was happy.  I cleaned up my fingers with Purell.  

"What a crazy line" said the older woman behind me.  Just a tad taller than five feet, she seemed as Indian as I am and as American as I am.

We engaged in small talk.  A retired radiologist from California, she was visiting the old country to spend a few days with her 93-year old mother who is not well.

"See you on the other side" I told her as I headed to the officer for my turn.

A few minutes before boarding time, I saw her at the gate.  "They gave me a free upgrade to business class.  I didn't even ask for it" she said.

"All the way?"

"No, only for the short one."

"It will be cattle class for 15 hours after, eh" I joked.  We laughed.

I passed the business class on the way to my seat in the cattle class.  These days, I don't even dream about a free upgrade.  I have lost my mojo :(

Two hours to kill at the transit airport before the 15 hour nonstop flight.  I sat down at a table at the cafe.  "Toast and a cappuccino, please" I told the Filipino-looking waiter.

The cappuccino barely wet my throat.  I struggled to get his attention.  When I did, I asked for another.

After walking around for a while, I was now ready for the long haul.

I reached the gate.  It was my turn.  I walked up and handed my passport and boarding pass.  He entered something into the computer and tore up my boarding pass.  He gave me back the passport.  With a mischievous smile and with his left index finger over his lips, he handed me a new boarding pass.

I looked at it and smiled back at him.

A free upgrade to business class, where I can lie down flat for hours!

I haven't lost my mojo, after all. ;)

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