Friday, January 26, 2007

I don't really know what to title this one as..

It is yet another Thursday, this time the 25th of January. The time is 2:35pm I don't know why I am mentioning this as it is of no great consequence anyway. At grad school, they say that you are neck deep in work.. if you aren't, something is wrong.. big time! And as a matter of fact, I am presently jobless, so jobless that I have slipped into an introspective mode- the one thing I have always dreaded, for I am an introvert, whether I like it or not, and it isn't a very pleasant feeling to get back into what happened, when it happened, how it happened, why it happened and etc etc. Trust me, on this one atleast. So now, that I have ascertained that I am slipping, beyond my control, but all within conscience, into my weakness, I am compelled to write. To write about my fantastic experience of flying some 10000 miles, how I was looking forward to it and how it turned out to be cold and anti-climactic... Well, nobody needs words to complain.. the thought process works things out naturally for you, but somehow, I am lost for some 4-5 words.. I really don't know what to title this one..

But anyway, as the saying goes it is the stuff within that matters and others are merely supercillious. So here is how Jan 1. 2007 happened for me.

3:30 am IST - Chennai Intl Airport sounds the last boarding call for BA 36.. I am on it, settled comfortably into my seat. I am saying "comfortably" because I had to be comfortable at any cost.. an 11hour long non-stop haul is no joke and it is not a very fun-filled experience by any means, on any given Sunday; although in my case it happened to be a Monday! :-) The flight is very normal, BA serves good stuff, and the flight attendants occasionally mumble out instructions even in Tamil! We land at Heathrow some 10 minutes or so late, but thats not a big deal really by flying standards.. But we only land 10mins late. We get off some one-and-half hours later. Talk about one terminal of the world's busiest airport, with all of its 25gates not able to free one for an international carrier, and that too their own! So it was pretty much obvious that I had to miss BA295 which had a mere 100mins connecting time. But they accommodated me on the 297 so I didn't really mind. With some 2hours of connecting time, I had a good glimpse of Heathrow... in all its spledour during Christmas and New Years' time. I'm not surprised at all why people hail it as a marvel.

On the 297, I had been given an auto-upgrade to exec. class - what more could anybody ask for on an economy fare, during his first time? So it was 9hours of getting pampered all the way to Chicago. There was some 'good food for thought' and a whole lot of wine served on board. The gentleman seated next to me was an Indian as well and he had been flying since 87.. so he had loads to speak about... and some specific to Baltimore. But I didn't mind for BA took good care of me.

At Chicago, we landed on time approximately. I don't even know when we did. Sunset had occurred by 4:30pm itself and it was dark anyway, so it didn't matter. I got through all the formalities quickly and went on to receive my next big surprise by the luggage carousel. BA had lost my bags! What was I to do, whom to go and ask - the massive machines or the tall towers?! People around me were not surprised, as if it was a routine thing for them to lose bags and so they told me not to worry. I checked into AA and took the short, turboprop to CMI.. the thought of losing my bags had totally overshadowed this 26min experience and I was just waiting to get off and see if my bags made it this time atleast. But yeah, the only thing I vaguely remember of this journey is the airhostess very animatedly demonstrating the lousy safety instructions, besides the deafening noise emanating from the massive turbines from the back; it was perhaps predetermined that I had to be put on the last seat of an empty plane! :(

At CMI, let alone my bags not making it, I landed into an empty airport. I haven't ever been to any place so empty that I have all of some 2000 sq.ft to myself. I am not claustrophobic by nature, but I felt very ill at ease. There wasn't even an attendant readily available, for me to lodge a baggage claim. I didn't even have a nickel to call anybody. Somehow, after exploring just about everything there is in the terminal, I located a toll-free booth and called a taxi to come down and pick me up.

Cont'd. on another Saturday, the 27th of January at 9:00pm...

At some 7:30pm (of January 1, remember.... and that is my best surmise, for every piece of me, including my watch, ran on IST as always), I had a ride around a deserted, but not as bad as a ghost town, looking C-U.. and it wasn't anything out of the ordinary to be spoken of. I had gone through arguably the most elaborate preparations, spread out well over six months. But landing into an empty town, without my baggage was not the kind of honeymoon-like experience I had envisaged, even in the wildest of my dreams. And too add salt to my injury and rub it deeper still into the wounds, I didn't get to see my bags for another four days. Who would have ever thought that he'd come in to the brave new world and live his first few days in filth?! (From an alternate logic, it seems to be very synonymous with the funky, hip-hop and anti-foppish ways of the land) and added to all this, the bitter cold out here... aight, I think I've over-exaggerated :)

But since I came down there wasn't much activity for the first two weeks, and so I had the opportunity to plan my first act of escapade to Chicago. But the postmortem for that shall feature in my next post since this one is particularly outlined to be yet another embodiment of my wailing.. :)

So long.