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.
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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!