The first incident took place at the baggage conveyor-belt.
So there we were, passengers of flight G8/352, leaning in front of the sliding conveyor-belt with our respective trolleys, waiting for our baggage (also known as a “luggage”, incase my sis in UK doesn’t know what the hell is a baggage ).
All of us tired and weary from the nearly two hours long flight from Mumbai, and all of us strangers to each other, Intimacy was indeed closely guarded in such a situation. It’s fascinating how we can just sit for 2 hours occasionally rubbing our elbows with a person just inches away from us, and yet never talk to him/her the entire time. In spite of the numerous times I’ve flown, the number of times in which I’ve actually ended up socializing with my neighbor could be counted with my mere fingers.
And then there’s the ice-breaker. Something funny happens which makes everybody laugh. And when such people, strangers to each other, laugh, you will notice that they will always make eye contact with the other strangers around them. And when they see them laughing too, they automatically feel closer to each other. Yes, the power of observation is indeed powerful, if harnessed properly.
Such an ice-breaker occurred that day. During the last round of baggage arrival on the conveyor belt, when we were all silently and anxiously waiting for our baggage to appear, something funny appeared on the conveyor-belt. It was a suitcase handle, a broken suitcase handle without the suitcase! As the small piece passed us, we slowly looked at each other and eventually ended up laughing. The more the eye-contacts, the more the laughter. A CAT question could even be based on this incident: There were 20 people in the Airport, and they made eye contact with everyone, once. How many eye contacts were made totally? Same question, except now, there’s a mirror present? Ahhh…. CAT…
Well, so back to my story. That afternoon we all had a hearty laugh. And then the broken suitcase appeared on the conveyor-belt. I stopped laughing immediately: It was MY suitcase!!!! Aaaargh I should have seen that coming, considering the fact that I was 20kgs excess beyond the permissible 15kgs limit! It was indeed a very heavy suitcase. Dumb me! Aaaaaarghhhhhh!!!!
As my suitcase passed the others in front of me, I could see them all looking at it and smiling again. Some grinned, some laughed, and some even pointed to it, telling their friends that that was the suitcase. Guess what I did? As my suitcase came to me, I just grinned at it like the rest and let it pass me as if it wasn’t mine! Hell no I wasn’t going to be the laughing stock of the group, especially since I was one of those who laughed the most at the handle . I’m sure any Mizo reading this is immediately thinking “i van han ţhing em emm” (Dude, you suck)
I picked up my poor broken suitcase only in the end when the others around me had left. He who laughs first laughs the shortest. How true. Mr. Jeh Wadia, you owe me a suitcase handle .
The second incident took place on my way home from the airport.
As usual, I took a prepaid cab because of the notorious auto and taxi drivers who thrive mainly on fleecing customers. It cost 160 bucks from the Airport to Safdarjung Enclave. Everything was going smooth for the first few minutes. And then the taxi stalled (or so claimed the taxi driver). I made the mistake of giving the prepaid slip to him in the beginning. So the taxi driver said he will put me in an auto with his own money. Sounds fair to you? Fair because I was going to reach home anyway without paying anything extra right? Absolutely not!!! I paid 160 bucks. 160 was for the taxi journey, and not just a ticket to haul me home by any means.
The taxi driver got me an auto for 60 bucks. He paid the auto driver that much and transferred my baggage into the auto. That was when I couldn’t remain a silent spectator anymore. I told the taxi driver to give me at least 70 bucks more, because the distance he travelled from the airport won’t even reach 30 bucks. He refused, saying it’s all on the prepaid slip and I was going to reach home anyway. I could have taken him to the cops, but considering the situation (It was extremely hot and humid, I was dying to reach home, I was dying to see my girl again etc etc) and all the hassles of police station, court case etc over just 70 bucks just didn’t feel like it was worth it.
But I was not going to be duped again, just because of my “foreign-looking” facial feature and my broken Hindi. My mind started churning out something really evil to make sure he won’t dupe a person like me ever again. I couldn’t ask him back for the pre-paid slip because that means I will have to shell out extra cash for the auto.
I looked at the auto driver. He was way bigger than the cheating taxi driver. I gestured to him nonchalantly and told him to take me to my house for 130 bucks, and not 60! *Boy I’m Evil!* He was speechless for a moment. He looked at the surprised taxi driver, hesitating a bit. Then I added fuel to the fire by informing the auto driver that if he was not willing to go by 130, I will find another auto that will. Which auto driver can resist that, to bargain with a customer over the price being too low????
My trusty auto driver was on top of the taxi driver within seconds. A push here, a shove there. The other people driving on the road were watching the strange spectacle. I didn’t care. Finally the roughed-up taxi driver reached in his wallet for 70 more bucks and gave it to the auto driver. We left.
I was happy. My auto driver was very happy. The taxi driver – not so happy
Now here’s the thing. The taxi’s engine could have genuinely stalled. But when one is a victim of so many treacherous fleecing, one can’t help but have a feeling that any incident like that is just another cheap tactic used by such people to daylight rob you. If it was a genuine break-down, then I really feel sorry for the bugger and that’s why I was as fair as possible, as he still ended up with 30 bucks for a few meters drive.
The third incident, a very short and minor one, was when I rushed into Mumbai airport on my way to Delhi. I got into the wrong terminal (there was a construction going on), and the helpful cops asked me for my airlines. I said “Indigo”. They told me to go to the next terminal. But when I reached there, the security guards didn’t let me go in because GoAir takes off from yet another terminal! I pointed at the sign that says “Indigo” and I said it takes off from here. They said Indigo takes off from here, not GoAir. I was confused. I asked them, “Aren’t Indigo and GoAir the same?” They all laughed, including the passengers waiting in queue behind me. I always thought “GoAir” was the name of the flight managed by the Airlines “Indigo”. Stupid me (again). But then I blame my mom. I inherited her genes. When I was in Mumbai, my worried mother called me up and asked me how I’m going to reach Delhi now that all the flights in India are cancelled due to strike. I told her my flight’s as scheduled. She said no, and even tried to prove her point by reading from the News channel that said “All Indian flights are cancelled”. I corrected her, saying “Indian” was the new name of “Indian Airlines”.
Come to think of it, we aren’t stupid. I blame the Airlines for confusing us with such names as “Go” and “Indian”