Sunday, March 20, 2011

Random rantings from the airport

A stand-up comedian had once described landing at the IGI Airport in Delhi after an overseas trip was like returning from a honeymoon with Aishwarya Rai to find Mayawati in your bed. Now that most of the metro city airports (and even some of the mini-metro and B-town ones) have undergone a major facelift – the experience of arriving at Calcutta’s NSCB Airport is a similar anti-climax.

But, like everything else in the city what irks me is not the lack of swank, glamour or glitz – but the sheer attitude of the people. The “priority” tagged bags invariably arrive last. And, on complaining – the Baggage Services staff of even Jet Airways would plead “helplessness” – putting up a lame excuse of not being able to handle the load of more than one flight at a time. If you point out to them that, Mumbai and Delhi have a dozen flights landing together – they have the ready answer of “there they have more staff” – we are a “small airport”. You don’t have the heart to tell them that even smaller stations like Guwahati and Raipur do a far better job – because you realize that they are as frustrated as you are.

The airline loaders sit around chatting and the ground staff can’t get them to move their asses even by pleading – as they are all “unionised”.

As you leave the airport – you are greeted with the shabbiest sight – worse than any railways station and chased by ‘professional beggars’ all the way to the car. What a first impression we create for visitors to the city ? Though some may even argue that – in Bengal we don’t try to ‘window dress’ reality and give it the way it is from the word go.

Mornings are veritable nightmares – with mile long serpentine queues at security that can take anything up to an hour to negotiate. Again the excuse is too many flights and too few security channels – when the reality is that Mumbai has as many or less channels and X Ray machines with many more flights leaving at the same hour. It’s amazing how the efficiency level of the same CISF staff fall dramatically when they are posted in Calcutta.

Will Mamata Banerjee’s promised “paribartan” change any of this ? I bet not. The genetic code of Bengalis have been permanently mutated – giving rise to jokes such as the similarity between Bongs and sperms (only one in a bloody million work !!). As a race we are suffering from mass dysthymia and need compulsory universal administration of Prozac. Till then, there will be little to chose between Didi and Behenji.