Saturday, April 21, 2018

A day spent at Pantnagar airport



The remains of an unmourned, unloved mosquito lie splattered against the fading white paint of a lonely wall. A fan whirs slowly above my head, groaning and pushing its way through the air that squats oppressively in the room, occasionally pushing a gust of hot wind towards the beads of sweat dripping down my neck. I stand up and pace from one end of the room to another, my eyes sweeping towards the tiled floor with its pattern of black and white squares intersected by lurid red paan stains. The door to the toilet bangs open and my nose is assaulted by the smell of piss mixed with the sweat of 50 people awaiting the only plane of the day, three hours late and counting.


It’s time to go outside. 


In the blinding light, the heat shimmers on the concrete, as I lug my bag towards the airport canteen. The back of my tshirt is drenched as summer in North India takes me to my youth, to a time before air conditioned comfort, to power cuts in Delhi summers, too exhausted to stay awake, too overcome by heat to fall asleep. 


As I step into the dilapidated shack and ask for water and settle into my plastic chair I hear a distant buzzing. My heart leaps in expectation before realising that it isn’t an arriving aeroplane but Panditji at the counter letting go a quick one. 


I dream of my home, my bed, my creature comforts. 


But that is a story for another day...

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