It took 15 years for me to surpass my record. Now New Delhi is officially the northernmost place I’ve visited.
I went to New Delhi to get my visa. All expenses were borne by my company. After finishing my day at the company, I went home, packed and had some light food. By that time, my car had come. At that time my cellphone rang.
“Sir, we are calling from Indian Airlines. We regret to say that your flight has been delayed by 30 minutes.”
I would bet that these Indian Airlines chaps would have the Guinness World Record for the highest number of regrets. I’ve never seen an IA flight departing on time.
You may be asking me why I took an Indian Airlines flight then.
Fate!!! (Didn’t get tickets in any other plane)
So I went to airport and waited, gaped at some Kingfisher airhostesses who were walking, pulling a strolley gracefully. Looked like the VIP ad. Somebody apparently thought that onlookers should be given a heavenly feeling when the airhostesses are around, because suddenly we were covered in thick white smoke. (Remember the old purana-based serials, where they always show heaven filled with knee-deep white smoke??)
Two foreigners who were sitting beside me were looking awestricken. They asked me what that was. I replied that it was a desperate attempt to ward off the mosquitoes. (That was one rare time when I didn’t lie)
Aboard the plane, I was again reminded of the Kingfisher airhostesses. There was an aged lady among the cabin crew. She reminded me of another “granny” of Doordarshan. There was a news reader in DD called Salma Sultan who was quite a granny, but always came with dyed hair and red lipstick which looked awful. I mean, there’s no problem with old ladies, but why do they dye their hair and put lipstick?
I’ve heard a joke about Air India (which is no better than Indian Airlines). Their punchline is “Warm and motherly affection”. By “warm”, they mean that the AC doesn’t work. By “motherly”, they mean that all the air hostesses are about your mother’s age.
I reached Delhi…Well, not exactly!
I reached the airspace above Delhi and was hovering there. The pilot kept going in circles for about half an hour above Delhi. Drat!
When we were about to land, they announced that the temperature outside was 35 degrees. I insctinctively looked at my watch. Was it 12 noon or 12 midnight? Then I realised it was Delhi and it was summer.
Finally, I got down. I found my driver. He took me to Maurya Sheraton. I got a nice room. But I couldn’t sleep. At the time of check-in, they had swiped my card for some five digit figure. Not that I had to pay that amount. But I felt guilty spending so much for a night’s stay.
I didn’t get a feel of the real Delhi until noon the next day. That was when I stepped out of the AC in the hotel. Hot is not the word. It was scorching.
I saw from my car that Delhi was good. Good roads and well-planned flyovers. I had read from some blog (I don’t remember) that Delhi looked ugly. I’ll have to disagree. It looks better than Bangalore at least. Maybe I hadn’t visited the uglier parts of the city. But whatever I saw was top class.
My interview was at 1230. I had to stand in the queue outside. I didn’t feel better until I got inside the airconditioned room. I got my visa without much difficulty. I didn’t have much time, so I couldn’t visit any place. I was unlucky.
I returned to hotel and had a good sleep for 1 hour.
As I was packing before checkout, another phonecall came.
“Sir, we are calling from Indian Airlines. We regret to say that your flight has been delayed by 1 hour.”