Mind It!

by Ashish

1.30 P.M – Waiting to get on to a flight that will eventually reach Chennai. We’re going to say hello to Namma Bengalooru’s BIAL on the way.

1.35 P.M. – Two old ladies ask me something in some language that I cannot decipher. Probably Tamil, perhaps Kannada. Make note to self to see if they disembark at BIAL.

1.36 P.M – Realise there is nothing that stops them from being Tamilians in Karnataka. Or Kannadigas in Chennai. Or something else altogether. Waiting to board a flight can lead to random thoughts.

1.40 P.M – Slight headache. Urge to sleep due to verrry nice party last night. Red Bull ki jai ho. One can, coming right up.

1.45 P.M. – Seat right at the end of the plane. In the middle. Not aisle, not window. Sigh.

2.00 P.M. – Pilot informs me that we’re flying to Chennai via Bangalore. Really. Air hostesses do the seatbelt – oxygen masks routine. As always, wonder if banging on the panel above will loosen the thingummy that will release air masks. That’ll be fun. No?

2.05 P.M – Plane whirs and rambles and positions up the runway. Gathers its skirts and gets a move on. I wait for the sinking feeling in tummy.

2.06 P.M – Sinking feeling comes.

4.00 P.M. – About to land at Chennai. So much for Red Bull giving me wings. Peer outside. I can see purple, lemon yellow, bright green houses. Chennai is loud.

4.10 P.M. – Call wife, mum. Call the guy I’m supposed to meet in Chennai. Ask for address. Practice saying Vellacheri three times. Sweating already. Welcome to Chennai.

4.15 P.M. – Rickshaw driver nods approvingly when I say Vellacheri. Asks for 350. Guy I’m supposed to meet had said nothing over 150. I’m good at negotiating, we settle at 250.

5.00 P.M. – Chennai rickshaws are way better than Pune rickshaws. Made by TVS. Better engine, firmer suspension. Seem roomier too.

5.15 P.M. – Random introductions, long meeting. Ennui.

9.00 P.M – Get dropped at hotel. Step out for a bite. Karaikudi restaurant. Specializing in Chettinadu cuisine. Or authentic Punjabi dhaba. When in Rome…

9.01 P.M. – Where is Chettinad anyways? Tamil Nadu? Karnataka?

10.00 P.M – Nice place, this. Satiated tummies; benevolent thoughts. Lungi clad waiters, banana leaf on plate, chicken curry, appam and rice. Butter milk. Weird coconut milk preparation served with appam. Not touched.

10.30 P.M. – Good night.

7.00 A.M – Kaapi and dosai. The good life.

8.00 A.M. – Drive out to East Coast Road. Some offsite thingie planned for the day. Guys in the car, from the company I’m visiting, too friendly by half. Point out some IT park that is the largest in India. Yay! And other things of note.

8.30 A.M. – Keep waiting for sight of the sea. Our resort is only 25 kms from Chennai, and ECR, thus far – no great shakes.

9.00 A.M. – Rice for breakfast. Tastes quite nice. Poori and some gravy. Not so nice. Maidu Vada in Chennai is Vada. But tastes as good as Roopali. Roopali’s coffee is better.

9.30 A.M. – The festivities begin. Must stay awake. Raise hand and ask pointless questions to keep self awake. Deliverables, road maps, plans and I don’t know what. Why did Man Utd get Owen. WHY?

1.00 P.M. – Lunch. Excellent mutton curry. Truly fantastic. Hog. Curd rice and gulab jamuns. Burp. The afternoon is going to be merry hell.

2.00 P.M. – These Chennai guys! They turn the AC off. OFF! Apparently is too cold. Has anybody died of sweating? Apres the trickle, the deluge.

4.00 P.M – Coffee break. Man Utd should have gotten somebody else.

4.30 P.M – More ennui. Ennui more.

6.00 P.M – It’s over! Run down to the beach, volleyball. I suck at it. Cricket. Not too bad. Sweating profusely. It’s windy, but humid as hell.

7.30 P.M. – Mandatory dancing session. I and my twelve left feet execute a graceful ballet. Smothered grins, polite applause. I retreat to the bar.

8.15 P.M. – Wise decision. Happy Kulkarni.

9.00 P.M. – Fantastic fish curry. Much conversation. Nice guys, these people.

10.30 P.M. – Ride back to the hotel. Sleepy heads.

11.30 P.M. – Reach hotel. To sleep or not to sleep? Cab coming to pick me up at 2.30 A.M.

12.30 A.M. – Need For Speed. Good game!

2.00 A.M. – Sleep… Game…. Sleep… Game. Game! C’maaan!

2.30 A.M. – Cab on time. New guy, I think. At least, that is what he seems to be saying.

3.00 A.M. – We’re lost. Glory be, we’re lost. The driver knows squat, so do I. Nobody on the streets. I’m going to miss my flight. Dammit.

3.15 A.M – First suspicious, then friendly. Cop pats me on back, directs stream of information at cabbie. We’re on our way!

4.00 A.M. – Finish security check. Stay awake in case I miss flight. No plug in points at Chennai Airport. Battery on laptop drained. Walk around. Walk around some more. And some more. Must stay awake. Sigh.

4.15 A.M. – Clamber onto flight. Aisle seat. Praised be the Lord.

4.30 A.M. – Flight takes off.

4.31 A.M. – Baby in seat next to mine starts crying. Howling.

4.32 A.M. – Monster’s mum smiles apologetically, goes to sleep. Baby pauses to look up at her. Resumes howling.

4.33 A.M – Monster continues howling.

4.34 A.M. – I consider howling myself.

4.35 A.M. – Arrrrrggggghhhh.

4.36 A.M. – There is no other seat, sir. I’m sorry. Of course you are.

4.37 A.M. – No. No. No. Why me?

6.00 A.M. – We’re about to land. Gigantic Lungs Inc. has not ceased operations for a second.

6.15 A.M. – Flight lands. He stops! He stops crying! Looks at me, gives beatific smile. Burps.

6.30 A.M. – We’re disembarking. I have my revenge. I burp back.

7.00 A.M. – Warm, cozy bed. Snug blanket. Home. Good night.