We gawk at a strange looking object, widely known as airplane, awaiting us at the apron. Legend has it that, apart from its primary task of creating noise pollution, this, what appears to be a poorly designed metal…..ummmm…..thing, can also defy gravitational pull; today, we are going to verify that. ‘Darr ke aage jeet hai’ has always been our motto and more often than not, we come out victorious in any situation (although, some of our detractors might slightly differ with this statement). And hence, with a tinge of apprehension, a dash of curiosity, and some unwarranted excitement, we climb the stairs.
When budget airlines introduced 1 rupee ticket, we looked at each other with an ear to ear grin. However, the story takes a complete twist as we visit our friend’s travel agency and keep a one rupee coin on his table. Going by his argument, fuel charges didn’t constitute the ticket price which they announced and it needs to be paid separately.
“That’s nice!” we affirm, “quite a picnic kind of a scenario where everyone chips in for the petrol charges, right? So how much I need to contribute for fuel?” we lean back and inquire “I can get it at a discounted price and give it to the pilot before the flight takes off. Would they require a pilot as well? I mean, I can find out.”
Apparently, they have already arranged for a pilot and the fuel; we only need to pay for it now.
After a series of discussions and subsequent reviews, we decide to go down South; yup, Hyderabad it’s going to be!! Including fuel charges, the ticker price now stands at 4900 rupees. Anyway, there is no looking back now.
“Give me window seat,” we look at the left hand side wall where a calendar is hanging with a picture of Charminar on it.
“I don’t see that option here,” he rummages through the site, “may be you can specify your preference when you collect your boarding pass at the airport.”
“But why cannot you give me that boarding pass? What am I paying you for?” we frown.
Another round of discussion follows and we come home little dejected with only the ticket and no boarding pass.
We reach airport a little early to ensure there is no hiccup. But now, as we stand in front of coffee day and scrutinize all the activities, we realize that we have probably left home a little too early; killing six hours, which is still there for the security check, is going to be a grueling task. Anyway, we don’t want to stand here and look like a fool, ergo, we ask for a cup of tea.
“No, no, I am talking about the tea which I have asked for.”
“Yes sir, that’s 70 rupees.”
“Can you give me the bill?” we look at him with profound skepticism.
“That white paper is the bill sir.”
We give him the money while we continue to stare at the bill in disbelief, and then keep it with other contents in our shirt pocket, e.g. money, phone number of the person who has already bidden adieu to this vain transitory world, and that ‘good day’ biscuit wrapper which we forgot to throw (please note, we don’t keep money inside innerwear anymore because we have had difficulties in the past carrying out transactions in public places.).
While being surrounded by security personnel during luggage scanning, we explain that the thing which resembles a gun on the monitor is actually a benign umbrella, and those round-shaped articles are laddoos which don’t have the features of a hand grenade. After creating another set of spectacles during security check, we finally find ourself standing in front of a gate waiting with other passengers for something which we are not fully aware of. A bus arrives and we are asked to board the bus.
“CHEATER COCKS!!! A BUS?” we fume in disgust and look at other passengers hoping to ignite a protest. But to our consternation, everyone nonchalantly walks towards the bus. Perplexed, flabbergasted, outraged, we follow them.
Once we enter the bus, we show our skills. With deft footwork and unprecedented swiftness, we maneuver through the crowd, push everyone around and secure a seat. As we keep our handbag safely on one side and try to open the window, the bus stops and we notice a plane waiting for us. That’s it, a ten-second ride!! But we are glad that they arranged for this bus; running around in the parking area and on the runway screaming “which one is going to Hyderabad?” wouldn’t have been a great sight.
Air hostess welcomes us with a smile; first time in our entire life a lady smiled at us. An involuntary smile creeps across our face which lasts for a prolonged period of time as we proceed towards our seat.
We espy a black t-shirt guy talking to that airhostess. ‘Cheapos’ we grunt, ‘All Tom, Dick and Harry started traveling by plane now.’
Air hostess continues to smile at us as she demonstrates the safety drills. We get up and try to open the door for a better understanding of the mechanism, but we are ushered back to our seat. We were expecting them to shed some light on the usefulness of these doors in case of an emergency situation mid-air, in vain. With a sudden rush of urgency, everyone starts fastening their seatbelts. We fumble and realize that there is no seatbelt. Crew members come to our rescue and the seat belt comes out of ….ummm…. I mean, we stand up and the seat belt is retrieved. From the corner of our eyes, we study the procedure to wear the seatbelt.
Engines rev up and we clutch the seat handle – this is it. As the flight takes off, we chant Hanuman Chalisa and wonder whether it was a wise decision to rely on the works of two gentlemen, with questionable sanity, called Wright brothers. However, after sometime everything looks normal apart from the beads of sweat formed on our forehead.
Flight lands and we heave a sigh of relief. A feeling of achievement rushes through our veins; this was a near impossible mission. Like an NRI hero returning to India from Hindi movies, we close our eyes and smell the air; but did they show where that NRI hero collected his luggage from? We open our eyes but cannot see any familiar face around barring that despicable black t-shirt guy. ‘In times of crisis, your enemy can become your best friend,’ and hence we discreetly follow him and find ourself inside the toilet. ‘Well, not a bad idea, it’s been a long time.’ We stand next to him and give him a bizarre smile, which doesn’t look that great under the circumstances. In an act of betrayal, he walks out when we are in the middle of the task leaving us in a precarious situation; we run after him.
Once we come out, we see cab drivers approaching us. But we know how to deal with this; we have handled similar situations in railway stations. The thumb rule is, never take a rickshaw or a cab from inside the railway station; come outside, it will always be a cheaper deal. We start walking towards the road unaware of the fact that the airport is 20 km away from the locality.