Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Gatecrashers Of New Delhi Airport


Am traveling again, this time I pass through the hallowed gates of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport. If you want to showcase how Incredible India is, this is the classic one. And it makes me wonder whether the ownership really transferred into private hands. Anyway, the experience kicks off nice and early as I drive up the incline. A long traffic jam has developed. My driver alternately jams the accelerator and brakes to stay in one place. And its raining heavily.

The airport is packed with people, even more than Mumbai and Hyderabad airports, whose vast collections of crowds usually amaze me. Like all other airports in India, roughly 95% of the folks who visit the airport ain’t going anywhere. They are here to see off the other 5%, or is it 2% in New Delhi. Most of them travel very long distances.

Passengers like me are a hopeless minority. In every way possible. For a moment I thought I would give up and return, so challenging did the task of entering the terminal appear. Then I decided to fight my way through. After a careful study of my relative position to enemy flanks, I began to heave-ho. Angry stares accompanied me all the way. Several extremely able-bodied (I shall not say from where) gentlemen focussed on a lone and distant waving figure inside the terminal looked mightily inconvenienced.

Line & Length

There is just one long line to enter the immigration area. And it takes a long time. Guess why ? Not because the immigration guys are dragging their feet. Not quite. Because for every four guys from the line that walk over, there is one who will jump it or attempt to barge through. Two familes of four with howling children were `whisked’ through as I watched. Then followed a pot-bellied guy with a `pan' stained mouth - smiling sheepishly at no one in particular.

An American (not Indian origin) businessman - smart suit n boots - too tried to gatecrash as I watched. He went a step further. He begged the lady from United to please help him through. For what reason I could not fathom. She heard him, nodded her head, he pleaded again and then after much thought, she stepped forward and requested the immigration officer managing the line to let him through. I wonder what the excuse was. Maybe First Class. But there is no separate line.

Of course, despite my best efforts I didn’t see any ministerial entourage (with or without a minister) sail through immigration, security et al. After all, these fine gentlemen and gentlewomen (whose passport pictures may or may not tally) do not need to stand in any line. Or even bother to jump one.

26 comments:

Shantanu on 11:36 pm said...

Heh! Exactly my feeling. I would have expected you to have gotten used to the babu-dom that is India! However, I think Mumbai has gotten a lot better lately re: experience with crowds, immigration checks, etc. Or maybe, I have just gotten used to it.. :)

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Debanshu Mukherjee on 1:23 am said...

Causing disorder comes so naturally to us! Brilliant blog, must say!

Anonymous said...

Mumbai airport is definitely looking better. Immigration and cleanliness have improved leaps and bound. Domestic terminal 1B is excellent. I think privatisation is making a difference and GVK has started off well.

kamla bhatt on 1:19 pm said...

Wow! Am I glad that I was not the only one who felt this way about New Delhi airport. I was ready to bolt from the airport when I saw the line and the attitude of the people. Basically, everybody was walking around with "I have the first way of right to walk here with my cart!"

Bangalore and Bombay airports are way ahead when you compare the situation in New Delhi.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Kamla

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You'd find delhi/mumbai much better if you have experienced Bangalore airport :)
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Anonymous said...

Dirty NRIs.

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