Saturday, May 23, 2015

Varanasi travelogue 1 - Landing in New Delhi

Age and makeup

Unfortunately I hadn't done an online check-in and had to wait in a long queue at the check-in counter. Indigo had an interesting add-on; one of their staff walks by the queue, gets passenger details and prints the boarding pass - he had a wireless device with a wireless printer around his neck (a small handy one). There was a huge family of around 12 people travelling on the same route as me - Chennai to Delhi to Varanasi. From that group, two male adults and one little boy were at the counter to collect all their boarding passes; the boy was repeating excitedly, "I want the window seat." The middle aged man casually assured the boy that he would get it. At that age we have worries about wanting a window seat; small worries that at that age seem really big. To the adult it was a petty issue in the grand scheme of things - he was worried about whether all 24 passes were right. And the guy at the counter probably had his own set of worries about the job. How silly our worries when we look back on them!

As usual I was among the last people to board the flight. Though I had an aisle seat, a small boy and his dad asked me to switch with a seat in front; uh... I ended up in a window seat; the seat I hate the most because you are boxed inside and can't get out at will. An old lady on my right was worried about not being able to make her connecting flight to Lucknow; she was worried if she would know how to get to the connecting flight and she took assurance from me twice or thrice on whether I would guide her to her next flight. We made some small conversation about her family, son, grandson etc. as I spoke in broken Hindi and some English. It's easy to make conversation while traveling with most people. The 2nd lady further away from me was middle aged but had a thick layer of makeup that kind of lifted her cheeks and covered any signs of wrinkles or scars. They say makeup hides age but I guess it actually gives away age! There was another young lady I saw who had shades of yellow and brown hair - artificial of course; must have taken a while to dye like that. Though it was a 2.5 hour flight, there was no meal included in the price; not even a sandwich. The sight of instant upma and noodle boxes in which the air hostess poured hot water didn't tempt me to buy anything in the flight even though I was hungry.


We arrived in Delhi on time; the bus from the flight to the terminal took a fair bit of time; it went winding down a long route similar to how I felt in Frankfurt. But Delhi airport didn't seem impressive. We got down in terminal 1C and our departure was from 1D; there were no signs to 1D. You have to step outside the building, walk across a small street and then take a lift in the next building to reach 1D. As we walked, the aunty was constantly worried, “Is this the right way?” It’s strange that our fears grow as we age; more on that later. 

There were no signs to the boarding gates either. All of them were on a lower level; continuous one after the other. There were very few seats in this level and naturally there was plenty of crowding. The sign on top read 'Please proceed to your boarding gate after checking your flight status.' But people don't really do that; they are worried of missing the flight and they all immediately go down leading to a pile up.

There are a few food outlets like Pizza Hut, KFC on the upper level; again it's a small area that gets crowded easily. You'd get the feeling that they didn't plan for volumes when designing this terminal; the idea of gates being grouped together also didn't work out well. And to add to the problem, even though boarding had started the display boards on top didn’t show the status and some announcements could barely be heard.

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