You know you are coming back to India when you board the plane and everyone is rushing to stand in line.. but clearly having trouble being disciplined in the line.. after all in India lines are definitely a foreign concept.
After being stuck in Kuwait airport for 8 hours I was really ready to get on board but as the flight was a bit delayed I gave up on the line and went and found a seat and watched the passing parade.
A fat and harrassed young Kuwaiti man was trying to stuff their carry on luggage with all the purchases of his burqa clad mother and wife .. dozens of packets of what looked like some sort of unleavend bread – leaving a trail of plastic bags floating all over the floor with no thought of seeking the garbage can. Finally he managed to close the zipper of the case and they joined the boarding line. My temptation to go tell them to pick up their garbage was squashed into ‘not my job’ section and I watched the cleaner amble over and pick up after them.
Eventually we boarded – I was a bit concerned that there would be no space left for my carry on in the overhead luggage bins but I found a spot. My window seat was already occupied by a young man but he happily shifted into his middle seat and I sat down next to him in readiness for the last leg of my flight.
Mmm the different smell .. familiar .. I am back in Indian territory.. I liked it.. even the feeling of being a bit pushed and shoved as I got on.. the chatter and the unruliness of the Indian people texting and not obeying any sort of boarding rules.
So to relax – I took out my notebook to write.. only to find the young man next to me peering openly over my shoulder at what I was scribbling.. well I figured there was no chance he could understand my scrawl so I went on regardless.
That was fine.. yes normal for India.. personal space and privacy is not high on the agenda – but when I opened my Kindle and began to read my fairly complex book – suddenly he was reading aloud next to me.. and very slowly .. stumbling over the big words. Thank goodness for my previous life here in India.. I couldn’t help simply bursting out in laughter – what could I do? Here was this young man – practicing his English by reading my book.. and not only that, inviting me to correct his poor pronunciation of the difficult words!
What to do .. and say .. but laugh and become friends with this total stranger who was right next to me for the following few hours. He was very sweet and over flowing with excitement to be finally going home to his village in Bihar after a long three years working for the Kuwait Energy Company as an electrician. His pay – less than USD 200 per month for 7 days a week work in difficult and dangerous conditions.
But here we were together on Indian Jet Airways.. where everyone helps everyone else around them.. assisting to fill out the landing forms when those around have no English, borrowing what they need such as a pen and reading out loud from their neighbours book!
Time to relax back into chaos.
Arrival came – I was at the back of the plane and when I made it to the passport control in the flash new huge Mumbai Airport I had another reminder of the way things are here.
There were NO foreigner entry forms to be found on the shelves and every official looking person I asked responded with a version of “oh .. not my job.. ask over there – or wait.” Finally one of the aircrew disembarking found me a stray form! and I entered India.
Back to my second home.. and into the next installment of my life adventure.