Of comings and goings

This week (okay this is an old post, so it’s no longer this week!) has been crazy. Tambi arrives at 2 am, Chhota Nana arrives at 5 am, Tambi leaves at 5 pm, Dad arrives at 1 am, Chhota Nana leaves at 5 am, Mum arrives… . And so on and so forth. Cousins K & J are in the midst of exams and rushing here to meet the family.

And in the midst of this we had the Bean’s ear ache emergency, we watched Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides one night and Fast and Furious 5 a couple of nights before that. Is it just me or does watching 3D suck? Anyhow, we’ve spent so much time in and out of the airport that we’re planning on finding out if there are loyalty cards available for frequent visitors.


At least thrice I saw grown kids – maybe in their late teens or *shudder* even in their early twenties racing around T3, pushing each other on luggage trolleys and screaming hysterically. Made me want to stop and slap them -none of us would allow our little kids to do this. It’s 2 am, we’re tired, it’s raining, we’re soaked, there’s a storm and half the flights have been re-directed to Bombay and we’re not sure what has happened to Tambi’s flight and suddenly they come barrelling around a corner almost knocking us over. I bet these are the idiots who would be odious enough to say they don’t want crying toddlers on a long haul flight.


It’s amusing to see what people take pride in. I recall a classmate who went abroad for a year during school, on an exchange program. She said her favourite part of travelling was – wait for it – walking out of the airport in high heels, sunglasses and a good piece of luggage. Not the travel, the sights, the food, the people – just strutting her stuff out of the airport!!  The rest of us cracked up and died laughing on the floor. So maybe she was 17 and foolish, but it’s still a memory that makes me laugh till I cry. And yet every so often you notice someone walking out of the airport after a 15 hour flight with their sunglasses on their heads (why? its 2 am and pitch dark and you’ve just exited a flight) and in high heels (eh?) and a very smug expression. Oh well. Whatever floats their boat.


No matter how swanky an airport you build, if it’s in India, we will Indianise it. We walk in from the parking lot to find people sleeping all over the floor. And this, the new T3 terminal. Shoes in a row, suitcases under their heads and snoring on the shiny marble floors as we walk around them and a floor polisher drones past them. I see  cab drivers who have got out of the heat/rain and are curled up in the window sills awaiting fares.

A group of women in burkhas sit quietly in a corner until a man comes and gives them a packet of food. They spread it out on the floor and eat off it without a word, the dust from our shoes flying around them. The food over, they drop their veils and you don’t hear another word out of them. The night wears on and they sit straight-backed in the middle of the floor without sagging in the absence of back support.


Two girls walk out pushing trolleys. One turns to the other and drawls in an American accent – “Hey, gimme your number.” And then drops the accent and says in a pure Delhi accent – Phone kariyo. I am very amused by the way accents shift. The Brat and Bean pull it off all the time and embarrass me.


Rows of drivers and attendants wait with boards to collect visitors. The foreigners shake hands even with the drivers and wish them the time of day, refusing to let them carry their luggage. The Indians almost immediately hand their luggage on to willing hands without any acknowledgment. I saw a young woman shove her bags on to an elderly man who bent double pushing it.


It is not inexpensive to pick up people from the airport anymore. Rs 80 per person who enters the waiting lounge (normally atleast 2-3 people). Flights get delayed and you end up spending half the night and some of the morning there, needing cups of coffee to stay awake – Rs 100 each at least. By 2 am you are decidedly nibblish and that calls for a muffin/croissant. And then as the good OA tends to do,  you lose the parking ticket and end up paying a Rs 1000 fine. We may as well have gone out to a good dinner!


It’s funny that we should have just discussed matters of ideology and belief because my dad just got back here with three beyblades for the Brat, a baby doll for the Bean (she’s been feeding and rocking it since morning), a Kindle for me and an iPad for the OA. Being indulged doesn’t feel all that bad either.


The very people who play by the rules and remember basic courtesy abroad, forget it all once their feet touch our precious desi soil. Luggage trolleys are abandoned in the midst of the parking lot. Which means you rush in for a flight and find you can’t park in the empty lot because of an abandoned trolley. You stop in the middle of the road, holding up traffic, hop out, move the trolley to a corner and then park.


A man walks by with a bawling baby in his arms. The child is bringing down the waiting lounge roof. The man looks tired and is barely doing anything to pacify the child. But what is worse is the toddler trailing behind him. She’s screaming too and he is ignoring her. I wonder how long he’s been travelling with the two of them and how tired he is. And how tired they are. At the other end is a blonde  chasing her preschooler who is whooping and running as fast as his little legs can carry him. She is keeping an eye on a toddler strapped into a stroller and is almost cross eyed with the effort. She finally turns to me with a desperate look in the eye. I grin at the preschooler and hop into his path, stalling his runaway plans. He glares at me and gives up without a fight and heads back to his mother. I consider suggesting to both parents to pool their resources and handle the four kids. But then I mind my own business and head off.


80 thoughts on “Of comings and goings

  1. Now I am confused… so have your parents returned from the US? Has Thambi also come with them with your sil and baby button? Or has he come alone? If so, why did he not get Baby button, so that we could get some more pics??

  2. I suddenly realised you hadnt updated any posts for a long time and then realised YOU HAD MOVED 😦
    But I cant follow you, why?

  3. Very interesting vignettes! I can so relate to all of them. Especially the one about people sleeping and eating. I see a lot of that at Dubai airport and it never fails to interest me.

    And the luggage trolleys in parking lots…only beaten by the guy who snuck in to the self same parking lot from the opposite side (and gave a victorious grin) as we oldies were (slowly) trying to manoeuvre into it 🙂

    Bean rocking and feeding the baby doll makes me wonder whether we sometimes tend to over think these issues..there is also the masculinization of the hypothalamus (brain) in utero to be taken into account!

  4. Hey…I have seen people sleeping in Dubai, Frankfurt and Heathrow airports! Don’t blame Delhi.
    P.S. This is the secret part. Don’t tell anyone….In Dubai most of the people were either Indian or Bangladeshis! 🙂

  5. “Rows of drivers and attendants wait with boards to collect visitors. The foreigners shake hands even with the drivers and wish them the time of day, refusing to let them carry their luggage. The Indians almost immediately hand their luggage on to willing hands without any acknowledgment. ”

    See, this is what I meant in my comment to your previous post :p Anyways, that discussion is over 🙂

    Regarding the Amru accent and desi phone kariyo part. What did you think about it? Personally, I think its great that kids today are … well kind of global. There’s a bit of everywhere in them. 🙂

      • If she was indeed an Indian, raised in America, then the accent is understandable – you learn the English spoken in schools (hence the American drawl) and the Hindi (or mother tongue) from home (hence the pure desi accent).

        If she was just on vacation from abroad but basically Indian resident, such accents are like the flu. You catch one when you get on the plane 😉

        A Kindle for you! Love it!!! Are you enjoying it already? I have a load of free e-books – in case you want some, PM me. I can send you a list of what I have.

  6. Delhi airport is pretty good. Specially if you have to hang around for a few hours, for a connecting flight or some such thing. Thankfully, they’ve got loads of seats, sofas, recliners, foot rests, for people to sleep. 🙂 But the food is awful, and terribly expensive.

    Airports are fun though aren’t they? With all the people watching.

    What fab gifts. Envy. 🙂

  7. Why is India so groan expensive? Or the cities anyway? When I come out of the airport I have kurta and jeans (I consider putting bindi but think MM will not approve), my child has snot in her hair. I hand her to any willing person related or not related to me. My mother then proceeds to open some tiffin dabba of sorts and assorted savoury and sweet items stickily mixed together spill out. My child then paws at it as if her parents have been feeding her grass for her entire living time. This is how we roll.

  8. How well you write! Was sorry to see the post end:)
    And yes, even I always wonder about those people who come off a 24 hr flight looking all snazzy …. By the end of these loooong flights, i couldn’t care less as to how I look….. just glad to be on terra firma!

  9. That’s a beautifully written post. 🙂

    I know this is just nitpicking but “Phone kariyo” is not really Delhi accent. This is actually Rekhta and this usage is very common in colloquial Urdu/ Rekhta, especially in Lukhnow and U.P.

    • Really? I grew up around Lucknow and Allahabad and I have never heard it before. The first time I heard it was in Delhi. Oh well, am happy to have learnt something new today! Rekhta…

      • I grew up in Lucknow, studied in Varanasi… and then Delhi, the first time I heard Kariyo, laiyo etc etc was in Delhi, in lucknow it was phone kar lena or phone kar lijeyaga so not sure if kariyo is part of awadhi/bhojpuri, the dialects spoken around lucknow/varanasi

    • Really! I grew up in varanasi and even I have never heard it ever…first heard it in delhi and sometimes from a hyderabadi…how interesting…na MM?

        • It’s just colloquial Urdu. It is also quite commonly used in and around Agra…you will notice this accent in the film Garam Hawa, if you’ve watched it.
          And it’s no surprise if you’ve heard it in Hyderabad, this usage is common in Daccani Urdu as well. 🙂

        • This is Moradabad accent. Lucknow’s hindi is totally correct… which is also known as ‘Khadi Boli’… you move 80 kms and reach Kanpur.. the hindi changes completely

  10. Lol. Phone kariyo, indeed! I hate fake accents…darling, you LOOK Indian. None of us are taken in with the phony (and almost invariably overdone) drawl 😛

  11. Hi five !!! 3D movies suck !! so glad someone else thinks so too cos I if at all I mention my displeasure, all I get is the “pata nahi kaun se gaon se aai hai” look 😦

    A kindle huh? so J. But I prefer your bookshelves more. Much much more. And I know so do you so its all cool 😉

  12. I love airports. Especially when I am the one NOT travelling. The accent stuff cracks me up. I embarrassed someone yesterday(I think), she was speaking in a American accent.
    I asked her where she was from. Bombay.
    Oh how long have you been here.
    2 weeks. Oh just 2 weeks in CA, where were you before that.
    Ermmm Bombay her answer, and I couldnt help it and burst out laughing.

    Ohh How does the OA love the Ipad? I love mine!

    • the OA and I are not tech people is a realisation I’ve come to really slowly. he likes it and uses it judiciously. I have yet to register my kindle. I am told I need to do that. I have no idea how!

      • MM,
        I just ordered myself a Kindle last week after a lot of hesitation — I love the touch and feel of books too. But the compactness for travel and the huge selection of books on amazon convinced me — did you know all the classics (anything published before 1923 is out of copyright) are available for free? I might finally read War and Peace. To register your Kindle, just go to your amazon.com account and look under My Account –>Manage my Kindle.

          • Hey…can someone tell me how much it costs to buy an ebook for Kindle? Say – one from the trilogy series? And how early do they get released after the book launch? What about Indian titles/Indian authors? Are they easily available? I didnt want to succumb to Kindle and held back for long but recent developments (have to move continents and cant bring myself to give away my books) seem to tell me that tech is the way to go if I want to feed my voracious appetite for books :((((

          • Nidhi,
            Dragon Tattoo is about $10. Most books are in the $5 – $20 range. I haven’t looked specifically for Indian authors. But in general the selection is very good and Kindle editions are more readily available than books for the iPad for instance. If you get the Kindle with Special Offers (just an ad on the main screen, doesn’t bother me at all) it is only $114 — so definitely worth trying.

  13. 3D – apparently there is a small percentage of the population who cannot see the 3D they use in movies, and to them the image just looks distorted. Perhaps you fall into that category?

    As for the kindle – it’s my companion on the road – it lives in my purse and I have access to plenty of books as needed 🙂 Don’t use it at home at all, there I still prefer real books. And the newspaper – I need a physical paper to get my day started! Cannot be satisfied with an online paper, though I read several online!


    • No!!! I can see it – I just don’t like it in films like Pirates of the Caribbean because the film is shot dark, the lens on the 3D glasses is dark and you end up squinting right through. Plus I hate the cumbersome glasses on my face.

      • Me too, hate the cumbersome glasses. Plus PoTC was no fun at all in 3D. Actually, PoTC 4 was not as fun in general, I guess… I have enjoyed the previous ones.
        The only movie I liked in 3D was ‘How to train your dragon’…

  14. Was nodding all the way down to the end of the post. Refreshingly described MM. I find people watching fun too. Specially the groups of IT folks who travel together for projects. I watch them and imagine myself a decade and half younger. Oh! the memories. 🙂

  15. Reading the post felt like i was lounging in the airport. (superb write up as usual :-)What did the little ones do?

  16. Ok..here is the answer..Wiki gives a definition for 4D but nothing for 5D. Found this on Yahoo answers ” 3d is visual, 4d is visual and interactive such a a 3d rollercoaster ride where the chair tilts, i’m guessing 5 and 6d will be full immersion with surround screen so it is all around you with holographic characters that look like they are standing next to you, maybe with temperature fluctuations and the long anticipated smell-o-vision!!”

    As for not being tech savvy…am worse. I work for a tech giant in the tech field yet when it comes to phone/ipands it’s the teenage neices and nephews who bail me out ….:(

  17. i don’t like airports. nasty cold, sanitized places they are. feeling cold. drink blah coffee costing 100 bucks. now i need to go to the loo. don’t like loos in public places no matter how clean. come back. feeling cold again. rinse repeat.
    i love my kindle. i’m not very tech-savvy though i’m an engineer. tech-savvy for personal stuff would be the better term i think. but my kindle is soo soo lovely. it was my bday cum anniversary gift this year :). since anna was born, sometimes i just don’t get time to visit a bookstore. my local library is ok but sometimes i crave more. plus all the crappy crosswords and landmarks are useless. i never find the book i’m looking for. flipkart was great for that but sometimes it takes upto 3 weeks for delivery. plus my bookshelf is overflowing and my apartment has no more space. sob. with my kindle i have the book i want in less than a minute. the first time i couldn’t believe it. though the one click purchase is dangerous. you won’t even realise how much money you’ve spent.

  18. “Once upon a time” when I was an air hostess based out of Kolkata, the joy of being at the airport – off coming and going- was way to different than today. The eagerly waiting family and/or friends and the happiness on the faces was very satisfying. Now with all the security “jhanjhat” you can barely stop your vehicle at the arrivals/departures, leave alone giving a proper hug to your loved ones. However, even then (11 yrs ago) I witnessed a remarkable difference in the attire and makeover (high heels,makeup, etc etc) of the people (passengers, crew and receivers) between Kolkata folks and Delhites.
    Although I was a crew, I hated the idea of putting that makeup one last time when landing at Kolkata at midnight. But did so as it was part of my profession. And I think its good to touch up a little as it kind of livens you up for a while. But high heels, mascara, rouge, fancy bags (big and bright) and goggles (yeah even those when you’ve landed at midnight)…it never made any sense to me.

    And bang on observation on the people sleeping at the airport….my jaw droppped when I saw it recently at T3. My first reaction was “yahan bhi??” and immediately the answer popped up “why not?…yahan sab chalta hai”

    Awesome post MM…

    • zenkyou 🙂 And yes, I agree – for crew to do it is important because they are part of the hospitality industry and need to look fresh everytime a passenger looks at them. for the rest – its just a waste of time.

      • I have seen women touch up their makeup in hospitals after delivery. I know of women who wake up earlier than everyone else to do up their faces so no one sees their real look (!) (There is a scene to this effect in the new movie Bridesmaids…a hoot btw) Makeup out of an aircraft seems almost justified.
        Oh… and one other funny air travel observation….Indian aunties with auntie looks and figures in western attire and sneakers on the first leg of the flight to India and then changing into sarees inside the tiny plane bathroom an hour before landing in India in the second leg.
        On accents…my amrikan bitiya can talk talk perfect desi English whenever she talks to kids her age there. Those kids don’t seem to mind or even see the difference but I am constantly worried about someone accusing her of making fun of them.

      • Aunties sat on either side of me were rummaging through their big ass bags, putting on the war paint, spritzing perfume and plonking their shades on their heads 30 mins before landing. I just sat and watched! My kids were asleep and I wasn’t going to waste my ‘me time’ with faffing!

  19. Hey that’s my sister! I remember going to pick her up at the airport once only to see her coming out with a swagger and looking as pleased as punch. The whole strutting-your-stuff thing totally rocked her boat and how! Of course she was only fourteen then but I’m not going to let her live it down till she’s forty *evil laughter*
    And the accents. Just met someone who could barely string a sentence together properly but insisted on rolling her r’s and flinging the twangs around so much my ears hurt!

  20. don’t u think it’s better they speak hindi (or any regional language) without an american or english accent?

    And they leave the trolleys around everywhere, not just in Delhi. 😐

  21. Hmph. Not a wee mention of the nice me that showed up with my two, made you wait for 2.5 hours, ate your pooris, aloo, chicken and ice cream, took all your gifts, gave you shite in return, made you pack a sandwich for the flight, asked you to drop me back AND made you shell out the cab fare both ways. Tsk tsk.

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