An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Nightmare start to an Interesting journey back from India

Finally, reached Houston after a long flight which almost never happened!

I lived a nightmare that I have had for so many years of taking an international flight. On Dec 27 night, I reach the IGIA gate and show my ticket and itinerary and the guy points out that my flight was at 1.20 AM on Dec 27, so I am about a day late!! I was like WTF! How could I have made such a basic and fundamental mistake!??

Well, he was standing there – a smart tall Tamil guy – smiling at me. With an understanding tone, he suggested I go to the Air France office across the gates and talk it over with them.. “hopefully the office is still open”.. he said with a lingering doubt.

I immediately rushed with all the bags in the trolley to the office. Somehow made it and announced my stupidity and the guy also smiled at my plight.. adding that it was a common mistake.. even frequent flyers out of India make that mistake. Phew! I aint alone on this “planet of the morons” I thought!

He started to look for an alternative arrangement and found ONLY ONE ticket on my airline – Air France – out of Delhi that night! “It was waiting just for you, Sir” he smiled. A smile that I will remember for a long time!

$200 change fee later I had the only ticket available that night and ready to board my plane again. One thing I should have done but didnt was to make changes in my meal as well. I wanted the Asian Vegetarian and I sure missed it all along the way.. specially on the second leg.

On Delhi airport I was surprised – pleasantly – by the changes. Although IGIA isn’t the jazziest of airports but its very functional and easy to navigate and use now. The immigration checks and other areas have been done up well and enough information signs are around to guide you to the right place and in the waiting area you have better Duty Free and also eating options.

Btw, Subway in India, I discovered, now offers Veggie patties, Paneer Tikkas and Chicken tikka subs. They have changed over the years in India. When they first came hardly anyone went in – the one in Karol bagh actually closed down a few years back.

Anyways, reached Charles De Gaulle airport without much ado. Its an airport I dread and hate! Thankfully we got a jetway to come out of the plane in the cold. . although it was as cold as outside (cant make better jetways?). And as I was thinking that I will be again sent in umpteen buses just to get to the right gate, I found a train that took us.. hmm even Paris has changed!!

Once at the right gate I looked around. Found a small place to eat and got a new lesson. Like any starbucks in US, I asked for a Hot latte. Well, in French, Latte means Milk. And they are serious about how we say things. So, in the morning I got to treat myself with a glass of hot milk – not creamy coffee!

The chaos at the gate when the flight was being loaded was very reminiscent of the chaos at the Delhi airport. Orderly processes are best witnessed (yeah despite all the ills of the system) in US alone! The rest of the world lives a more exciting disorderly life! 🙂

After nearly a month of enjoying myself travelling by Metro trains in Delhi and walking my way over to my destination – its interesting to be in a city where you can walk to your place.. because it make you seem “Human” all over again, I was back in Houston.. where you simply use car for all kinds of travel. See, thats the main difference – when people walk.. then PEOPLE interact with each other.

When people drive.. then VEHICLES interact with each other. The language and the noise is different. I am not talking of the honking.. but the ongoing language and noise in the air.. despite the lack of sound! When Humans interact there is this unpredictability but there is a warmth. When Machines interact there is predictability and there is a steeliness!

Anyways, back to “normal” grind.

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