Saturday, November 19, 2016

India Diaries - Day 1

Modi's demonitization drive has created quite a stir, not only in India but also in the country of Her Majesty, The Queen. One day, while I was sitting in my office typing an email furiously and fuming over IT not delivering the requirements in time, my phone suddenly started buzzing. I ignored it for a while only to find 258 whatsapp messages sent to me over the numerous groups that I have subscribed to. Normally I tend to ignore the forwards but this time I was worried that it may be something serious like may be Hillary had conceded defeat before the election results were out and declared that all this debate with Trump was just for fun or may be Salman Khan had confessed that he was driving his car but that it was the car who was actually drunk and because someone filled it with vodka instead of diesel. But it was none of the above and I have to admit that the creativity and geniusness of the forwards on this demonitisation was simply amazing which also explains why the advertisements in India are so much better in India unlike UK where there is a big fat man with weird zigzag moustaches shouting 'go compare' in a shrill loud voice so much that I rather would pay extra money and save myself the horror of comparing any prices on their website which would constantly remind me of the useless jingle every second I stay on their website. My colleague aka 'Thakur' who I blatantly accuse of hoarding lots of black money was immediately on his phone making some 'calls' while acting cool. The next day, whilst he seemed to have found ways to make use of his cash stacks for better purposes than making a bonfire, refused to tell me how and insisted that he didn't have anything to worry.

Some of my friends, on the other hand were worried on how they would convert their money that they had brought with them to this country and all of that eventually landed with me and the husband to make sure it's transported safely to India. So the husband and I loaded with this cash and several other useless gift items and chocolates made way to the London Heathrow airport. All throughout the one and half hour journey passing by the countless tube stops, the husband kept complaining on how far the airport is and how inconvenient I make the India trip because I insist on a direct flight and refuse to take the one stop flight from the London city airport. Now what I don't understand is how spending four hours in transit can be better than one and half hour in travel, but then the husband has proven higher IQ so I just change the topic.

We finally reach the airport and few minutes into the line I notice that the web check-in queue actually longer and moving slower than the normal queue. Sometime later, the Delhi travellers start jumping the queue under the pretext that they are in hurry even though their flight is only 10 minutes before the Mumbai one. Note to self - don't check-in online & arrive late or raise hand when asked for Delhi passengers even though travelling to Mumbai and jump the queue - note end. Anyway, somehow we pass the security and hog some food in the lounge that the husband has access to.

After we settle down in the plane, the usual haggling over overhead storage or reclining the seat begins. I find this a common sight in the India bound planes. One time, I witnessed a passenger violently kicking the seat in front of him as he was upset with the angle of recline of the seat in front of him and the other time one passenger refused to sit down because he insisted that he stores his handbag right above his seat lest his chocolates were stolen. Anyway, I put my headset, gulped down a glass of wine and watched 3 movies and one dream in the 8 hour odd journey. I could not believe that jet had a separate 'Akshay Kumar' film category in their movie section, and also made me wonder how successful he has become but mostly how he would have handled his stacks of black money.

The moment I stepped out of the plane, I felt alive and happy because the new airport terminal is so welcoming and 'indian' in its decoration but mostly because I could connect to the free WiFi. The husband was obviously carrying more liquor than permitted levels, half of which was in my bag and when our suitcases arrived on the belt it had a huge white crosses on all sides. Having seen numerous episodes of 'Nothing to declare', I promptly put all my effort in erasing those marks to a point that they were almost invisible. I was already having nightmares about carrying so much cash that I didn't want to attract any more attention. The husband thought it was unnecessary to rub that cross off and of course he was asked to scan his bag and handbag at the customs. Luckily they let him go. With renewed confidence of having beaten the customs, the husband wanted to also exchange all his old notes even though half of them were not even his. But the post office in the airport had already ran out of cash at 1200 so he agreed to move on.

As soon as I stepped out, I was greeted by the honking of the auto rickshaws, the screeching brakes of the best bus, the cars crawling side by side with narrow gaps, the scooters making their way zigzag between the stalled traffic, the metro passing above, there was so much chaos, but there was a method to the madness, I was home and it was an amazing feeling.

All day long, I hogged on the home cooked food, caught some sleep, then hogged on my favourite parle-g which btw I can still dunk to perfection, then again ate some food until it was time to call it a day. This is what I call a perfect start to a holiday



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