When panda eyes are worth it!


The arms of the clock in our living room are inching towards 6 p.m. And that’s our deadline to leave home for the airport.

I am a spinning top, as I check and double check the gas, lights, fans, aircons, windows, doors and the hundred other things that one needs to do. I also know that the moment I board the taxi, paranoia will hijack my rational thinking process, and will force me to keep asking myself if I had switched off the lights in the bathroom before locking the door, and many such things!

It takes a while for the paranoia to be replaced by a sense of calm. We soon reach the airport, unload our suitcases, check-in and head towards our boarding gate.

We go through baggage screening and security checks. Finally, we can all sit and relax. Each of us is busy, sucked into our smartphone screens or the pages of a book.

People are walking up and down, babies are crying and it is business as usual, the scene similar to the one at every boarding gate.

Suddenly, a voice on the intercom announces that our flight has been delayed by an hour and a half; and that we have to board the flight from another gate.

Many many groans and whines and grimaces later, all of us move at a snail’s pace to the new boarding gate. We repeat baggage screening and security, and wait.

Image courtesy – iStockphotos.com

The flight is uneventful. I drift in and out of sleep, aching to stretch my body.

Soon the pilot announces that there is air traffic congestion, and that our landing would be delayed. Sigh!!!!

When we finally land, we realize that three other flights have also landed at the same time. The queue for immigration snakes beyond the dividers used to guide the queue.

We walk, bleary eyed, in an S-shape, right and left. The line is moving, albeit slowly. I watch people. Some are glued to their phones, some are staring ahead at some point directly in front of them, some are having animated conversations about the merits and demerits of a particular model of smartphone. A small boy drags a small suitcase with a cartoon character on it.

As we move left, we meet the same people again, as they move right. We do this so many times that these people start looking familiar. At some point, the little boy with the suitcase lets out a rebellious wail. He sits on his suitcase and refuses to move. He has had enough of this late night adventure!!! His dad lifts him up and places him on his shoulder. The boy smiles, his old irritation forgotten, so quickly replaced by another new adventure.

And, finally we are at the carousel, where our bags are already on the belt, moving lazily at this unearthly hour. We haul them on to our trolleys, and walk out to the taxi stand.

Our eyes close involuntarily as the taxi leaves the airport, taking us to meet our loved ones.

As we drink cups of hot filter coffee, and catch up with family, we concur that all the pain and panda eyes were totally worth it!

Late night flight


Our flight is at 11.50 p.m. We leave home at 9 p.m. to avoid the heavy Friday evening traffic.

After check-in and immigration we walk around in the duty free area, looking at beautiful displays of cosmetics. There are chocolates, perfumes, books, bags and all kinds of stuff. Branded, every single item, branded.

Beautiful models stare at us from the posters, looking at our red and bleary eyes.

I look around me, am I the only sleepy one here? Lots of people seem to be walking energetically, laughing and talking.

We plod towards the departure gate for security checking and finally to board.

The flight is cold, I snuggle into the blanket. People are watching movies all around me, there is the ‘standard baby who cries’ through the night, probably with ear block.

Can’t rest my hand. Both my kids are sprawled on my lap, deep in nod land, as I struggle to move. Periodically I set them upright. I let my guard down and the two are back, jostling for the most comfortable position.

I nod off unbeknowst to myself. I wake up and realize that a mere 20 minutes have passed.

I am green with envy as I see the man across the aisle, fast asleep;  the woman in front of me is in splits as she watches a romcom, another man is working away on his laptop.

The stewardesses walk up and down the aisle, attending to passenger requests. I perk up a little bit when I look at the duty free magazine, lost in my mental shopping for a few minutes.

I need to stand up and stretch. No such luck.

Finally after what seems like eternity, we land…but it’s not over. Disembark and walk, hundreds of weary people plodding-on at this unearthly hour. Immigration done, and now at the luggage carousel.

The bags look tired too, as they slowly snake down. Brown bags, black suitcases, purple, whites, greens…no sign of our bags.

Finally, they arrive. We load them on the trolley and head to the taxi stand; another long wait before we reach our destination.

Bliss, the ability to stretch and bend. The joy of having a hot cup of aromatic coffee.

Back on land…till the next flight.