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. ;)