It has been a long time since I blogged about something… not that it is mandated that I write some sense/non sense every now and then, but just that this particular experience was something I just wanted to share…. And here it goes – My trip to Chennai and also my first flying experience (Pune à Chennai).
Ever since my school days, I had always wanted to travel by plane at least once but those days, I just never got the chance. Having been schooled in the mofussil town of Bharuch and having done my college from another suburbial town of Vallabh Vidhya Nagar (Anand – The Amul’s own place), the opportunity always eluded me. And then working in Pune as an ITian din help much… as Pune is just a 9hrs journey from my home, sweet home - Bharuch….. (Though I used to shell out a bomb for that to travel by a Volvo! At times, for this very reason I had wished Bharuch also had an airport, at least the fare I was paying for the bus would be justified paying it for a flight!) But then destiny always bestows the chances, early or late, it does give one! People out there, don’t give me that grin! I got the chance late... And then one day, my father said I would be traveling to Chennai all alone for the first time by flight. The first feeling was euphoric and then followed by the apprehension of being a first timer. Yet, I was ecstatic about it. Told my fiancée K about this and he said it would be fun for me!! Whatever, I was now looking forward to the day – 27th November ’10.
The day had started. I was all ready at 7 AM as I was going to office early (U see, being an ITian, one has to invariably clock 8 hrs per day which is the summation of the job full + jobless hrs). I as usual reached office at 8 AM. And then from the time I reaced, the day somehow seemed to budge at the pace of a tortoise. Considering the fact that on this particular day, I was an absolute vetti (jobless in tamil) with nothing to do, I was desperately wanting the day to end quickly. There weren’t any tasks assigned and I was afraid to beg for work (which I usually do when no task is assigned. Not that I am a very hard working/ work loving/workaholic girl, just that when one has work, the time flies fast and the EOD/COB approaches in no time). . Just then, my mobile rang in its typical trrrr……trrrrrr….. Darn!!! I had forgotten to keep my all time buddy on silent mode and invited the irritation/mild wrath of my neighbors! Obviously, the Lord does not make sweethearts as my roomie any more, who bears up with my horribly ringing alarm at 6 AM in the morning (and me slumbering away to glory) and sweetly admonishes me just to get her hands full on her whatever left over sleep! Anyways, it was a message from Kingfisher airlines telling me that the flight was pre-poned by 30 minutes and that the departure timing was 5 PM. It din make any difference as I was leaving early. As the clock struck 2, my edginess got over me and I finally made a move (caring a damm about the 8 hrs clocking thing). Having seated myself in a rick to the airport, my head until then, had become one whirlpool of excitement and apprehension that made my face look like one swollen red tomato. The rick fella misinterpreted the emotions on my face and sped like a superman to the airport thinking that my flight was going to fly w/o me. After reaching the airport at 3:30 PM and after paying a fat amount to the rick fella (Nowadays, the rick fellas are quite demanding. They think the ITians earn for their livelihood. Darn!!) and after consoling myself with the thought that I just shelled out my hard earned money as some lil charity (that I usually don’t happen to do except when necessary), I collected my baggage and proceeded to move in. The security guard there asked for my ticket + identification and I readily displayed my ticket and PAN. He glanced at my identification card sheepishly. (Me thinking: Dude! I know…. What u are thinking!!!How come that slim kiddo in the photo be a fatso like me? But well…. I don’t think I am entitled to answer u that…. :|). And I moved in to have the look and the feel of the airport (precisely, Pune airport) for the first time. There was yet an other security guy checking for the tickets. After all this formality to prove that ‘I , an honorable Indian citizen am not traveling w/o a ticket‘ was complete, I took a seat in the lounge and settled myself with the luggage. The airport was quite empty, and considering that I had reached much before time, I had ample time to wander here and there and observe the behavior of the people around me (a usual hobby when am alone w/o any book/company to keep me entertained). And then my eyes fell on a book store right in front of me. K and Dad had warned me against any more buying of books. My Dad genuinely feels, apart from feeding myself, I feed the Crossword and the Landmark as well, where, he believes, I dump more than half of my hard earned salary. He instead prefers buying books from the road side stalls (where the pirated copies are available at a very discounted rate)which I usually never do. I wont say I am a very law abiding citizen but yes - I say a big NO when it comes to piracy! So in spite of their constant incessant reminders to not waste any more money on books, I went inside the store. You see, even on other accounts, disobedience is something that comes very easily to me as The Lord implanted it in my genes for a reason He alone knows. As such the book store always seems as one irresistible shopping delight for me. The smell and the feel of new books to be read is great! For people who don’t know me, I was not some book lover/ book worm of the yester years. Rather I happened to be one all-play-no-studies kiddo who had, at one time painfully whined in one of her prayers as to why the Lord made something like books and why she had to read them to pass her exams and as to why He did not make her a born scholar. I know that was a tad too much, but such prayers were obvious when I have parents who always wanted their daughter to top the class (which me with no choice used to do, obviously with the fire on the back :P) The book mania clung to me due to some roller costar moments in my life and these silent true friends eventually pulled me out of the not-so-good times I had some years back (obviously that is not something relevant and so hence wont discuss it further!!). I picked on the ‘The Alchemist’ (which I had wanted to read since a long time). Then I proceeded to collect my boarding pass and there I came to know from the staff that the flight was delayed by an hour and it was scheduled to depart at 6:45 PM. Now that I was happy with a book, I din care when the flight was to arrive. Around at 5:30 PM, security check in was announced. All done from my side, I proceeded towards the concerned gate and waited for the departure call. Until then, i had started my happy reading and the time seemed to pass in a jiffy. At 6:15 PM the departure call came and all people lined up in a queue for the Pune à Chennai Kingfisher flight. After the final security check and with the boarding pass stamped in hand, I moved into the plane along with the others. The inside sight was like that of a regular Volvo bus, with a lot of chaos + cacophony. I had settled for the window seat (inspite of repeated reminders from K to take the aisle) Actually I had wanted to enjoy the city view and down below through the bird’s eye. But unfortunately, due to the uncalled delay of the flight and the mild onset of winter, the dusk was more of the night and the scene around was actually a black nothing only to be lighted up with the lights of the town. If at all I was able to see anything outside, while the plane started off, it was the wing of the plane :(. But then the take off experience was definitely thrilling. Being the first time for me, it gave the ‘butterflies in the stomach’ feeling. Then as per the protocol, all of us were asked to switch off the mobiles/mp3/any other instrument that was supposed to interrupt the aviation signals. The air hostesses demonstrated the regular procedures to be followed, if anything Godforsaken was to happen. That is when a fear clouded me as to what all things could happen if anything was to go wrong (like what if the plane landed in the middle of the ocean) and me, being a nyctophobic was really really scared. But then immediately, I said my evening prayers immediately and then settled with my book in peace. As some time passed, we were given some snacks(some veggie kaati roll) along with tea. Usually the food schedule for my day goes as - A heavy breakfast, A moderate lunch and an extremely light dinner and absolutely no snacks inbetween. But the thought of indulging in the delicacies prepared by my chitti(Mom’s darling sister) had made me starve the whole day, as I was busy keeping my stomach empty for the evening delight.But then my stomach was now suffering from the hunger pangs and was vehemently refuting my hunger bearing capability and it had now started clamoring for its fuel. So even that not-at-all appetizing snack also tasted good until the hunger died out after a few bites only. The tea was however soothing. Just then one of the airhostess announced that the landing would happen in some while. I was relieved. The plane came down minutes later and settled with a placid thud and was running smooth on the ground. Aah! So we finally landed. Welcome to the CITY OF HEAT – CHENNAI!!
After the baggage checks and all formalities done, I proceeded towards the exit. As I was moving, i was busy searching for my parents. And la! I saw the four adorable smiling faces in the crowd. I rushed out of the exit lane and hugged my parents, my aunt and my uncle who had come to pick me up. On the way to home, I recited the whole saga to them and they were listening intently as they always do when a chatter box like me forgets to shut up. After reaching home, my chitti treated a tired me with hot frothy filter coffee ( Me is one big time filter coffee maniac. Asked for it any time of the day/night, i would go for it!) followed by hot crispy dosas with the spicy mollaga podi (A dry chutney prepared out of red chilies). The tongue henceforth forgot the horrible taste of the bygone kaati roll and took to relishing the wonderful food from then. After a lot of talking and yapping done, I had a glass of hot turmeric milk before bidding the day good bye.
The morning came and I woke up quite early at 5:45 AM. My mom and chitti (both early risers were busy in their early morning gossips) were sitting in the kitchen. Mom gave me that ‘whatz wrong with u gal’ look because at that precise time she had been ranting to her sister about my late rising habits and her attempt to ascertain me as an established late riser in front of her sister had gone futile. Not that I got up early to prove her wrong, but coz I had overslept my 8 hours (You see, I sleep exactly for 8 hours even at home, only that at home, mom doesn’t realize I sleep late ;)) As I saw my mom and aunt again catching up with the gossip after that minor interruption (me), I affectionately smiled at them and went to have a view outside from the balcony to embrace the fresh morning air. The morning was beautiful. The sun was yet to rise but the sky was dimly lit up with a beautiful orange. The air was chill and I could see a few pedestrians walking/jogging. The fruit seller was arranging his trolley of fruits to set up his shop. The flower woman was also setting up her day for business. Gradually.i could see the street coming to life. Initially I did not have any amicable stance for this city. Rather my visit to Chennai some 4 years back was a nightmare when I had contracted malaria then in the city after arrival. After that I dreaded to set my foot here. But now the city seemed to charm me. Due to my last trip (a trip that went awfully wrong for me in terms of health), I had forgotten the charm a metro could induce. Prior to my last disastrous visit, I had visited Chennai umpteen times and had loved the city for its beautiful beaches, its T Nagar’s shopping den (of sarees, jewelery and what not! Every woman’s delight and every man’s fear. My dad always goes in his sulking zone each time, when my mom proposes this area for shopping), The Ranganathan steet, the Sarvana Bhavan, Ratna Café - Triplicane, the beautiful temples, the mailliga poo and the strong kicking smell and the frothy look of the fresh filter coffee, the morning suprabatham played on the radio and what not! Sometimes, these memories drown me in the nostalgia of the bygone years, those years when I was a kiddo and used to visit Chennai for my vacation breaks at school. Those were the years when I had nothing else to do other than to study (which at that time was a bitter pill though and had also made me think – Who bloody invented this education?), but now I realize that was a phase of life which in itself was such an enjoyment. As I was remembering those yester years, a thin smile filled with the knowing that age and time were inevitable and unstoppable, lit up my face. Just then, chitti called for the morning coffee…. .aaah! ‘the filter kaapi – anything for u love, I am coming to u’.
And then the three days were fully occupied with the all the pre-marriage activities of shopping and other arrangements. One day also included the visit to Kancheepuram – the city of temples and silks! My mini break was coming to an end. I had to return back to Pune on Monday. My flight timing was 4 AM in the morning (Chennai à Pune).
As I boarded my flight, I was drowned in the wistfulnesss of the wonderful moments I had just spent a few hours before from then. I was carrying back beautiful memories…. But Chennai, I shall be visiting u again and very soon for the D-Day!
So long, signing off for now.....
Cheers & God bless!!!!!