Airports

The word ‘airport’ brings up a lot of images in my mind. While most of them are happy, some of them are sad. Sad, when I have had to say goodbye to people close to my heart. Sometimes, saying goodbye to people I don’t know when I’ll meet.

Over the last week, I had to go to the airport and say goodbye to two people very close to my heart. Both of them were leaving the country and for both of them, I can say that I honestly do not know when I am going to see them again. You don’t really feel a lot until that person is stepping away towards the departure gate with his/her trolley and suitcase, with a ticket in the hand and some tears in his eyes that threaten to flow.

Of stuttering moms who say goodbye to their sons and daughters and want to say to them, “Don’t go.” but cannot. Of friends who enjoyed those many many days of beautiful company and don’t know when they will have so much fun again. Of stoically silent fathers who want to cry but cannot. Airports make you sad. Airports actually tell you that it’s alright to cry, because so many people around you are doing so! And yes, it IS alright to cry. And it’s important to hug people when they leave, just to tell them how much you’re going to miss them and how much you love them. Airports bring out the emotive best out of you. Airports make you want to wait till the person disappears around the corner in the baggage screening queue.

 

But Airports tell you something more important. Airports tell you to move on. Move on, literally. Just a few more steps and you reach the Arrivals terminal. You reach wide grins, bouquets of flowers, welcome balloons, flower garlands and name-boards waiting for that special person. You see disproportionately large welcome parties, reminding you to always celebrate and make a big deal out of your happiness. Why? Because I believe you must. MUST.

Airports mean this to me –

Airports remind you life is happy and sad. But you must move on. Travel that distance. Hug that special person before you let go. Be there as a part of the welcome party. Shout out in happiness and sheer glee. Hug that person again. Happiness is an arrivals terminal! 🙂

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The Mango Carrier.

It was a very different day today. I had my last MBA interview of the season in Mumbai and had a flight back in the afternoon. But before the flight, we stopped at a shop on the narrow dug up lane near the airport for the first batch of heavenly Alphonso mangoes to take home.

Now this box of mangoes, called a peti is no ordinary box. It has the choicest Alphonso mangoes stuffed between dry straw that helps the mangoes ripen. You are supposed to carry the box as it is. And it does not weigh less. Holding the box by the attached strings is essentially a painful process and you end up with sore fingers if you don’t hurry up or carry it for too long.

 

So there I was, with a box of mangoes in my hand, wincing in pain because of the strain. When we landed, luckily, Dad took the other bag that I was carrying and I held the box properly between both my hands and walked proudly. Before I knew it, almost everyone waiting for their checked-in baggage near the carousel was staring at me. I could not understand why.

 

 

Well, to be honest, it really must have been the first box of mangoes that any of them saw this season. And to think of it again, I walked on with nothing but a big box of delicious Alphonso mangoes in my hand and it appeared that I had no other baggage as Dad was at quite a distance with the other two bags.

 

The looks continued : The security guard at the gate could not believe his eyes. The policeman who was supposed to direct traffic looked at me like I had a box of gold in my hands. An old man who passed by, smiled coyly, maybe the thought of the mangoes made  him happy as well. In a mango-crazy nation, where the mango is known as the king of all fruits, it was quite an experience to carry in what was perhaps the first case of mangoes to the city.

 

And now I realize, dressed in my interview formals, I looked like a delivery-person assigned with super important mangoes intended for a VIP (Very Important Person). Aaah, mangoes! YOU ARE MINE!

First ‘flight’.

There are somethings that instantly put a smile on your face. One such thing happened with me over this weekend. On the flight from Ahmedabad to Nagpur that stopped at Pune, a man and his uncle were on the seats in front of me. And it was their first time on a flight. They settled down nice and quiet but grew visibly excited when the departure of the flight was announced by the captain and the plane started it’s taxi route towards the runway.

Pune being a defense airport, has a lot of fighter planes. There were two fighter planes on the runway scheduled to take off before us. The man and the uncle looked in awe at the fighter planes and the immense sound that followed. The planes distracted them for a while but soon it was our plane next for take-off. The engine roared and the passengers were pushed back because of the sudden increase in speed.. the man looked outside, his lips moving in prayer. The uncle,on the other hand, put his fingers in his ears, expecting the plane to blow up into smithereens any second.

The plane took off and the man looked triumphantly at his uncle and declared – We are flying. Aaah, that look of joy on the old man’s face when he smiled back and took those fingers out of his ears. Things we take for granted once we’ve done them time and over again, things like the joy that you are in a flying object. The feeling that by association, you are now flying! It is rare to see that innocence I saw in the eyes of these two people that day. It is rare to see grown-ups having such delightful first experiences due to technology. It is heartening to see adults behave like kids for a change.

 

It’s a pleasure to see emotions take flight.