Date: Jan 2 2011
Time: 20:00 hrs India Time
Venue: T3 terminal (New Delhi, India), International Arrivals, Gate 6
Temperature: 4 degree Celsius; Felt temperature around 2 degree Celsius
Wind Speed: 30-35 Km per hour
The cab driver parks his Innova on Level 2 parking and points to the passage-way that would take me to gates for international arrivals. Expecting the flight to be on time, I was at gate no. 6 to receive my guests. My guests were travelling from Canada en route Shanghai.
On checking the flight status displayed live on newly installed LCD monitors, I was surprised to note that the flight was one hour ahead of schedule and had already landed at the airport. If a train is before schedule in India we presume it to be flying on tracks but for a flight I hope it was ONLY flying.
I rushed to gate 6 hurriedly searching for my guests amongst a group of passengers coming out of gate 6. I had not seen my guests before and had to rely on my intuitive skills. Fear of failing to live up to the task at hand, I called up my sister in Canada. My brother-in-law took the call and said, “They will be calling you before coming out of the airport.” I disconnected the phone and took a stroll across the three gates meant for arrivals. I came to know from my fellow receivers waiting outside the airport that it takes a atleast 1.5-2 hrs to check-out.
The chill in the wind permeated through my jacket to hit my bones. I moved up to the coffee shop asking, “One capuccihno please?” The shopkeeper replies promptly, “No water left to serve you with coffee.” I felt like a stupid on being refused a coffee.
I finally decided to wait in front of gate 6 just behind the barriers to watch the passengers coming out. The first lot of passengers included an aged sikh couple pushing hard the trolley full of baggage and crew members of some airline. The female air-hostesses looked beautiful. Hearing some rush behind me, I turned around to see four men all in their 50s hurrying to reach the old couple. Within seconds the old couple were overpowered with feet touching, hugs, tears. I thought, “Are they seeing each other since childhood?” The milan ceremony blocks the passage with que of passengers behind waiting impatiently for ceremony to end. Over expression of emotions irrespective of whether felt from heart or not is an important trait of a North Indian.
Next batch had some young guys may be in their mid-twenties. They are greeted with bone crashing hugs. Thank god that winter clothing protected their bones from crashing under the impact of heavy pats. The welcoming among north Indians is very different from other parts of India. I imagined, “Must be students from Australia.” Just then one of them responds loudly to a stranger, “from aaustralia”. Accent is just excellent for the phoren returned.
Next I sight a sexy lady wearing micro minis and walking out of gate 6. I felt like running upto her and hold her from stepping into chilling wind and stares of public outside. I comforted my eyes from the chill by fixing my sight somewhere above her knees and just where the minis ended. “Is this what constitutes a wardrobe malfunctioning?”, I murmured, “opting for micro mini on a chilling night.” Poor girl, did not check Delhi’s temperature before arriving or may be its was fashion- after all anything unusual is also termed as fashion. She walked past me and crossed the lane reserved for radio taxis. Soon I lost her sight in crowd. “Who would have come to pick her?”, I questioned within.
“पापा ठण्ड लग रही हैं”, said a 8 year kid to his father, leading a group of 10-15 passengers. “जापान जैसा लग रहा हैं ना”, commented his father placing his hand around his son’s shoulders. Just behind them a guy walks out shivering wearing only a half-sleeve T-shirt- again may be this is fashion just like enjoying ice-cream in winters.
Amidst these hugging and loud patting, my phone rings. My guests call me. They exit out of gate 4 and we leave.