Double Expresso, No Sugar

by sidin in

Aloha people from the unusually unsunny and cool climes of the Middle East. The princely city of Abu Dhabi to be precise. Another few days of feeding and fattening before I hit the Mumbai roads two weeks from now. A terrible lot of things have happened since the last post by the way. I was witness to another spectacular feast at the local church, yet another laptop crash and reinstall and, to top it all of nicely, an exhilarating road trip from Mumbai to Chennai through "Oh I really want to retire here" Pune and "I will drop if I have another bite of Biryani" Hyderabad. The trip itself augurs many a traveloguish post. I dare say my adventures in Mumbai, a mere couple of hours after landing there, would make a rollicking little chapter in any book of historical blunders. Suffice to say, one cellphone was lost in a Mumbai taxi, and in an hour's time one call was made on that phone, on roaming, to my house in Mallu-land by a certain Inspector Mahabole in the Mumbai Crime Branch. The incident was not well received at home. The police have as much to do with the Vadukuts as Iraq has to do with WMDs. (By which I mean "nothing" for all you war-mongering types.)

I started off an a day-by-day, pint-by-pint description of the road-trip, but lost everything when the OS on my IBM crashed. I tried to revive it many many times, and even took it to a conclave of IBM service people. But there was only black smoke everywhere. So I had to reinstall everything. Voila!!! Sidin's Thinkpad the Second. And now my memory fails me in this old age and I don't remember enough of the trip to write posts on. And how old am I? A ripe old 26 as of the 30th of April... Yes people 3 days ago was yours truly's birthday and I celebrated it by filching out of my dad not just a new cellphone but a computer game thingie as well. But more on all that a little later...

On friday I was a passenger on one of the first Air India Express flights. I took the one out of Cochin to Abu Dhabi and the experience was mixed. I was thrilled at having saved a nice little packet on the ticket which I could use on something useful in Abu Dhabi like chocolates full of peanuts or a pair of jogging shoes or something. But all the while I was also scared they may try to reduce costs by cutting down on the number of wheels, wings or pilots based on some consultant's work. My fears were uncalled for, at least on that particular front. The flight had excellent security arrangments, and even had a pilot all the way from Boeing. The uniform for the cabin crew varied according to seniority. From "dignified dhinchak" for the senior staff to "pathetically pansy" for the underlings. The guy who served in my section of the plane wore a pink shirt over an orange turtle-neck something underneath. Both garments had numerous cheerful red-brown swoosh marks on them. And just in case they tried to de-pansy themselves with a coat, they were issued with screaming red overcoats, thus in one fell swoop doing away with the need for any sort of emergency lights in case of a landing at sea in pitch darkness.

All that said the crew were very courteous and the seats were not as bad as I was told to expect. Being one of robust girth I was secretly dreading the thought of spending the whole flight wedged between handrests with my bottom a few inches off the seat. But I was quite comfy in my aisle seat and had much fun watching the new crew learning the ropes and making a complete hash of the little flight safety demonstration thing they do while taxiing. Which is excellent timing. The ordinary passenger is just minutes away from take off and suddenly they are telling him what to do in case of a landing on water. But even the most pessimistic of passengers must have cracked up seeing the orange and pink crew member aggravate the situation further by wearing a yellow life jacket. I held my tongue while almost shouting for an encore. (More than one housewife was spotted choosing paint shades for the new children's room during the demo.)

Then they served a light meal. You know that moment in a horror movie when the transition occurs from nice, romantic and steamy intro sequence to random rapid fire appendectomies? That happened when the meal was served. In one moment of culinary madness they had made all that X-raying and frisking in the airport meaningless. The vada could easily knock out one man at 10 paces and an aloo bonda on a mad trajectory could pierce the aircraft fuselage before you could say "one cube of sambar please". I was looking at over 170 people being served potentially fatal weapons of destruction. Indeed it took me a little while to notice that what I thought was cleverly disguised sheets of kevlar was actually a cheese sandwich, at least at one point it was. I wore my seatbelt just in case dozens of mouths biting into the bondas and vadas led to turbulence. While I gathered my senses and chipped teeth, I made a small mental note to carry some food and a pair of Ray-bans the next time I flew. No sense in exposing my body to the food and uniforms.

But otherwise it was a pleasant flight and I hope the venture is a succesfull one. Once home I quickly went about securing the purchase of a cute little Samsung mobile phone and a Gameboy Advance Handheld game console. I was due a new mobile phone, but the computer game was a total whim. It was not easy to convince especially when the only other person who owns one in the family is a cousin younger than that grey pair of socks I have. But I have always have been a computer gaming freak and though I am terrible at them, I enjoy a good hour of gaming more than most things. (More than mos things that take an hour I mean...) So off I went and bought the machine and a couple of games including Max Payne!! Boy, games have become tougher than when I was in school. Back then Streetfighter was hot property and you were a master if you knew the special moves for all the characters. Today you cant even make your character throw a punch without tearing the webbing between your fingers.

Phew its been a tough couple of days trying to get past even the first few stages. But damn!!! it is a good machine and helps me forget the fact that I am 26 years old and will be working in two week's time. But my sister is already sizing up the machine for conquest. She is a whiz at these games. I dunno how I am ever to play these games they make nowadays. Sometimes I see nightmares where they make a game where you have to grow armies and then drive from village to village in Porsches killing Nazis and recovering flags. People out there pray for me to kill that guy with the big gun in level four. If only Max had a few "Air India Express" vadas and bondas... sigh...

Chalo all, and do keep reading and writing in...