Wednesday, April 12, 2006

At The Airport....

I reached Pune airport something like three hours before the scheduled flight, the second one, in the morning. I like doing that. Sit watching people and the free drama that most of them put up for my assessment.

The security staff, the bumbling cops, the lazy young men and women 'manning' the counters and flirting outright, the highly unhelpful ground staff, the over-important officials [increasingly fat ladies are now becoming that species], the VIPs with their twisted sense of importance, the nouveau riche with their standard regulation baggage on wheels, the carefree teenagers who show their derriere cleavage when they bend, the always-fighting cleaning ladies.... amazing assortment. The same everywhere in India.

The flight was delayed. So that meant lots of waiting. Tired of sending sms messages of goodbye to many friends, I climbed up to the lonely restaurant to restore myself with a beer and some French Fries. It helped. The overcrowding of the skies reflected itself on the rotten street like scenes at the airport lounge too. There were these small airlines potting up portable kiosks, like the bank guys setting up shops right next to smelly urinals [what logic drives them?], and noisily quarreling with one another or the clients, which is worse. Well, after an indifferent flight, ruined by a fat Tamilian who snored and leaned on me for support, with me jerking him straight every five minutes, I landed in Chennai. I lumbered out with my huge suitcase plus two brief cases was catching the sight of a banner, with six inch high letters proclaiming MAX BABI.

The driver told me his car was far off in the parking lot, so why don't I walk up the passage and he will retrieve the car. I walked up. I waited, and he didn’t turn up for nearly ten minutes. I got to watching traffic cops hauling up taxis stopping on this passage way and allowing passengers to embark. One cop, driver of a tow away van was yelling feverishly in his mike to ask drivers to move or get towed. Drivers shouted back at him. I wanted to tell my taxi driver, we never look cops in the eye, just ignore them and they don't do a thing. If you look a Pune cop in the eye he slaps you with Rs.500/- fine, finding weird things wrong in your papers, or totally missing papers.

Getting more and amused I watched the well oiled team catch drivers and get them booked. Suddenly a small car slowed down, a grayish Indica with a taxi type yellow number plate. The driver smiled at me, and his dark complexion his toothbrush mustaches, seemed very familiar. Thinking my guilty feeling driver is back, I hopped on to his vehicle, whilst he frantically gathered my bags and stuffed them in his small boot. We were driving away but car wouldn’t move. Two guys had swooped down and put a huge lock on the front right wheel. A huge calliper shaped like and same in size as garden shears... the driver coaxed and cajoled, all to no avail. He yelled, honked, beat his fists on his steering wheel and they moved away to the next car. The driver of the tow away truck smirked ominously.

The driver jumped out and went to whisper sweet nothings in to the ears of other cops. He came bounding back like a fox being hunted. Give me six rupees saaar... he said. I fished out a tenner and asked him to keep it. Fifty more, Sixty-aaa he yelled. So I gave him a hundred. He ran out and brought the small emaciated urchin who was going around locking more cars. We were free to go. Suddenly after going ten metres, he screeched to a halt. An ambassador car had come to intercept us. The white uniformed driver, was dancing up and down and knocking on my closed window. When nothing worked, he took out a crumbled note from his pocket and unfurled it in my face. It said, MAX BABI.

Holy shit, I had got into a wrong taxi. We quickly swapped taxis, and before we could say Puratchi Talavi Jaylalitha, the towing truck had come latched onto this taxi too. Whilst my official driver yelled at the cops, the other driver, took out my last bag and sped away. With the balance forty rupees, in other words I had paid for his short sojourn at the passage way. End of Day One.
(c) Max Babi March 2006.


At 3:26 AM, Blogger Alakaline said...

so after chennai chat, you hv a chennai blog.. what next? wonder if this is what all bigshot execs are paid to do?

At 4:03 AM, Blogger Raj said...

awesome! the abilities to observe and describe come together so well.. and you have managed to conjure a smile despite your own travails. thanks Max!

At 5:15 AM, Blogger Max Babi said...

alaka, my job is to keep sending emails to suppliers... and look around for a hundred things. I write blogs at night in a cyber cafe, and email myself a copy, then inbetween, post here. Why do you sound jealous? I know much higher paid executives doing even less... commerce attaches value to experience, wisdom, intution, and does not pay someone by the hour like a manual labourer. Get me?
Tks for the comments.

At 7:29 AM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

In terms of delightrful anecdotage -- a gloriously inglorious beginning!

Looking forward to much more, Maxbhai.

btw what does Puratchi Talavi Jaylalitha signify?


At 8:53 AM, Blogger Max Babi said...

hi david,
tks for the nice words.
Puratchi Talavi means Revolutionary Leader, and the Jaylalitha is the name of the honorable chief minister here, whose ability to bounce back to power is incredible...

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Ozymandias said...

It seems your Chennai sojourn is going to also mark a literary milestone in your career!

Way to go! This was a great essay!

At 2:34 AM, Blogger Twisted Humor Inc. said...

warm regards to the chennai blog and all :)

At 6:08 AM, Blogger Payal said...

Dear Max,

That was very well knitted by you and I hope that day 2 comes fast.

The best flavour in your writeup is that something very normal is put in such a nice way that it looks Extraordinary.

Please let me know when ever there is something new like this comes up.


At 10:02 AM, Blogger LAK said...

Hilarious! Sounds like Jerome K. Jerome! Keep writing!

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Dawn....सेहर said...

Aww! I miss Pune :)....I guess it must have changed a lotttt....
But I could picturize as I was reading :)



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