Thursday, November 27, 2008

At the Changi Airport – Part II

Stranger and his attempts were not the only thing that happened at the Changi airport. There is more to it. I was traveling light, with just my laptop bag and a small suitcase. I happily took the boarding pass and went off without getting any luggage checked in. Cleared the emigration and went shopping at the duty free for the customary stuff.
I walked towards the boarding gate when there were some 45 minutes for my flight. As luck had it mine was the farthermost one.
At the security clearance the guard asked me to open my suitcase. This has never happened with me before and I did quick recall of what all I had stuffed in. There is a limit of carrying only 100 ml of liquid content and that is when it struck me that my suitcase contained my brand new perfume bottle. An Elizabeth Arden, 125 ml.

The security guard told me I had to dispose it off. No. How could I do that?? I had paid a fortune for it. No no no. I am a sucker for perfumes. Let alone a full bottle I don’t even throw empty ones. I couldn’t believe what was happening. And in a la Indian style I started pleading and getting all emotional. But that lady was made of steel. My innocent requests had no impact on her. She said I could either throw the perfume or miss my flight. I was completely heart broken and then I conceded. There didn’t seem any other option.

That’s when the guard picked my perfume and moved towards the bin in slow motion. She pushed the lid but it didn’t open, she tried again and it still didn’t open and then once again and it still didn’t open. That was it. That was the signal of the divine forces. Even God didn’t want my perfume to be wasted. Instantly I screamed asking her to stop. I realized that there were some 50 more people staring at me at this point of time.

I told her I wanted my perfume back. I was going to go back and get my luggage checked in. She gave an incredulous laugh and said that I couldn’t go out as I had already cleared the immigration. I insisted that I wanted to try. With a shrug of the shoulder she handed my perfume back to me. I stuffed it in my suitcase and ran towards the immigration. There was some 40 minutes before my flight’s departure and the immigration was at quite a distance.

At the immigration counter I had to come up with a heart wrenching story of how important this perfume bottle was for me. A story of how this was the last gift from my now non existent dead Aunt. Finally the immigration officer gave in to my requests and let me out. I ran to the ticket counter and got my baggage checked in.
But the ordeal was not yet over. There was quite a distance that I had to run to get back to my departure gate. There were some 20 minutes left. With all the energy I sprinted towards the gate. The same security guard was there and she almost fainted when she saw me without my baggage.

Ah, and did I mention that this perfume smells even better now??

There is more to what happen when I landed, but that’s another post.

Monday, November 24, 2008

At the Changi Airport

A rather strange incident happened with me on my way back to Bangalore from Singapore.
I was standing at the counter to get my boarding pass. Suddenly out of no where this tall well built guy comes to me and says “I have extra baggage and I see that you are traveling light, please take some of it on your name” and with that he placed a huge suitcase on the conveyor belt and immediately stepped back. No introduction, no identity proof, just a statement and there he goes. I called out to him asking what his suitcase had to which he gave some gibberish reply which I couldn’t decipher and with that he retreated a bit more.
I am not a suspicious person by nature but this person sure made me uncomfortable.
The entire act was mistrustful. And he wasn’t looking me in the eye either. There was no time to think so I quickly turned to the lady processing my ticket and asked her if I was allowed to help a passenger, knowing very well that I wasn’t.
This time both of us called out to this guy who was now standing a good 15 feet away and was giving me stealing glances. He finally came up and spoke to me in Hindi saying that I could tell the ticket lady that I was his friend. I refused point blank. I was sure I wasn’t getting into any such mess especially in a foreign country. At this point the ticket lady very sternly told him to remove his bag from the conveyor belt otherwise she will summon the security.
Having done that I took my boarding pass and walked away briskly.

I am not sure what happened to that guy. Was he able to convince some other passenger to help him? Or did he pay extra money for extra baggage or did he throw away stuff?

I don’t know what I did was right or not. Was I over skeptical and behaved like a paranoid? Should I have helped a fellow Indian in that foreign land? Maybe this was a harmless situation and I over reacted.

Maybe yes maybe no. This is what omnipresent violence and terrorism was done to our psyche. Being careful can save a lot of trouble but did I go a little overboard?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Of Forgiveness

Z and I have been friends for almost a decade. And not just any friends but really good ones.
I know Z well enough. She isn’t bad at all and neither does she mean any disrespect. She is plain lazy. She promises and forgets about it. She doesn’t mean to but she simply does. But as I said I have known her for a long time and I understand her. I actually have been stood up by her a million times. But she apologizes and I forgive. That’s how our friendship has been. I am otherwise quite unforgiving but with Z I am a little enduring. I hate waiting but with Z I do wait. Like I said that’s how our friendship has been.

Now about 3 months back she made plans of going out for dinner with me and this time we included Aman too. It was all set, she was to come to my place and then we were to leave for the restaurant.
But last moment she got busy with some stuff and didn’t turn up. I called her once but her phone was busy. Although I wasn’t shocked at her behavior but this time I was truly angry. Breaking promises with me who is her long time friend is one thing but how could she do so with Aman?

It’s been 3 months and I haven’t spoken to her. I can’t bring myself to forgiving her.

Why is it so difficult for me to forgive her this time around when similar stuff has happened in the past as well?
Why is my anger not receding?
Why am I stuck on this?
Is it because this time Aman is there in the picture. Is it because I can take things on myself but I couldn’t handle her breaking the commitment when Aman was involved too?
Am I right? Or am I over reacting?

Monday, November 10, 2008

On the Highway

This weekend Aman and me packed our bags and drove down to Yelagiri. Just like that. Without a plan and without any resort reservations. We did some basic googling, downloaded the route map, picked up loads of food, music, some clothes, sunglasses and off we went.
2.5 hours of driving on a fantastic road brought us to the foot of the hills. And then the drive uphill through some 14 hair pin turns.

We needed this break and the enjoyment was enhanced since it was impromptu.

There isn’t much to see or do in Yelagiri. It’s a quite place. It has a trekking track, a lake, a few temples and some sunset points. That’s about it. And we didn’t do any of those.

We just drove around aimlessly through the narrow roads of the villages. We covered the length and the breath of the hilly town. We had chai at the small road side tapirs, we went for walks, we ran, we talked, we played, we sang. We had fun.

We slept till late and we had long leisurely breakfast and lunch and dinner.

We kept the camera aside, we didn’t open the laptop and we switched off our cell phones.

Excellent weekend.
Energized us
To the world - Bring it on!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Should kids be allowed in movie theaters?

Why, oh why, parents - why do you do this? Why do you get your oh so sweet kids to the movie halls? When you know the kind of energy your child has, when you are aware that your child is incapable of sitting quietly for 2.5 to 3 hours?

I am mighty agitated. Yesterday Aman and I went to watch a movie at the neighborhood multiplex. Fashion to be precise. If you have seen the movie, you would know that it has its share of serious moments.

In the same row as mine there was this family seated and with them they had a small boy not more than 3 years old. This kid was oblivious the fact that one needs to sit quietly in a theater. He was continuously loud and screechy.

My anger is certainly not on the kid. He was obviously unaware of how one behaves in a movie theater. But what were his parents doing? I mean why do parents get small kids to movie halls and if they do why cant they teach them to sit quietly. I mean we all will understand a couple of disturbances here and there but if the kid is on a joy ride through out the duration of the movie then isn’t it the onus of the parents to keep a check?

Let alone keeping a check, the parents yesterday seemed too happy to let the kid have his own share of fun while they watched the movie.

When I couldn’t take it any longer I decided to go talk to the boy’s mom during the interval. With utmost politeness I told her that it would be great if she could ask her son to be a little quieter as it was spoiling the movie for others. And I swear I was polite. She measured me up and down and with a frown said she’ll try. I could sense how much she despised my touching on this topic.

Anyways my request didn’t have much impact. The kid continued his jabber till we exited.

Is it right on part of these parents to spoil the entire movie watching experience for so many people? Shouldn’t parents be more conscious of the surroundings?

Is putting a ban the only way out? Or can parents behave in a more matured manner and keep a check on their little angels?