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Watching the Indian CNN at Mumbai’s aiport

October 21st, 2007

We landed in a toxic steam bath, hygiene on a dark runway where long, allergy sleek bird-like planes slowly crawled between the shadows. I’m on a hellish, totally unexpected, I’m going to murder my travel agent, lay-over in Mumbai at 2 AM with 4 and half more hours to go. The trip has gone rapidly downhill as I am exhausted, dehydrated, hungry and headachy. How is it considered acceptable to have me check in go through customs, baggage claim, then re-check in and get on a bus to a different airport to catch a domestic flight after waiting 5 hours in the middle of the night? How is that not an important detail to mention when booking a ticket? So I’m not happy, I will not arrive all that happy. And this is just the beginning of the hard stuff.

On the flight from Brussels to Mumbai, a little boy baby cried his head off inconsolably. People looked up from their newspapers and laptops shaking their heads, cursing their seat assignments. The baby kept escalating his tantrum. And then out of nowhere, a few grandparently people from across the aisle began to stir. “Put him on your shoulder,” “ “No don’t turn him that way”, “You shouldn’t talk to him,” “Hold him this way and pat; a baby needs to feel a beating heart.” Arms went up from several rows down offering to carry and pacify the screaming monster. This collective Indian parenting effort was really something to watch. The young to middle aged people were annoyed, but the elders seemed transported to a different time, when they were once new parents. They were only too happy to help.
Adopt an Indian dog
Get a set of Cds, melanoma
now only Rs 1999!
The Sensex rose after a sharp fall.
A Karachi bomb blast kills 150.
But Benazir Bhutto, physician
the target, dosage
is safe and back in Pakistan after 8 years in exile.
It’s the festival of Durga and people are dancing the night away.

That was just from a 4 min. snippet of news.
Even the news seems different now. There is something like a Good Morning America show with a cheerful woman host, called Breakfast with India. The words “optimism” and “energy” wouldn’t be inappropriate. People are dressed differently. There is definitely a layer of lifestyle here that is very close to our lifestyle in the west. I haven’t left the airport, so it remains to be seen how widespread the change is. A young man died unexpectedly soon after his wedding and his family and the public took to the streets in protest, crying foul-play and accusing a prominent politically connected family of murder – the words, “clean and transparent process” and “truth” are being thrown around. Democracy is alive and well.

While the airport is newly renovated, there are still 400,000 slum dwellers right around the runway that are going to have to be displaced as the airport expands. This has already caused a storm of controversy. As our bus wound its way from the international to the domestic terminal, over the walls of the airport grounds, I could see Christmas lights hanging on the houses and on the streets in the slums in celebration of the Dhasara festival.

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 21st, 2007 at 2:06 pm and is filed under India. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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