Monday, December 29, 2008

Coming back to life

It takes time to get used to the fact that I have landed in India. Reality seeps in slowly. I was getting cues at various levels, right from the beginning of the flight, which got slightly delayed because of some un-put-downable passengers; then the messy arrival lounge - after one month of Mumbai massacre, Mumbai international airport still looks so casual! It is now under renovation. Dimly illuminated, shabby arrival lounge is sure not going to make any positive impression on anyone and this is one of the main, if not the the busiest, port of entries to India! Cues continued - experiencing the driver's respect for traffic signals on my short journey through Mumbai traffic between international and domestic airports; semi-dark, dirty, water-logged rest room of Kolkata airport, and then everyone talking in Bengali ... I sure am back in India. The moment I joined the airport leaving traffic in Kolkata, I realized why New York City seemed so familiar after coming from the tranquil State College. Cars honking at each other, jumping signals, pedestrians crossing the roads like the acrobat maneuvering on the trapeze, hawkers shouting at the sidewalk ... life in a metropolitan city is basically same everywhere, be it New York or Kolkata. I was a bit scared to cross the road even at the zebra crossing as cars continued to rush in even on red light! Distance between two cars were hardly two meters - drivers have a very strong sense of proportion, visual measurement skill and sense of size of the car they are driving, otherwise it is impossible to drive in roads here.

But with all its apparent haphazardness, chaos or disorder, there lies an amazing current of vitality and vigor. Life in a city like Kolkata needs an enormous amount of life-force. Life in cities like State College seems so clockwork, so boring now. Being in Kolkata forces me to be alive, awake!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fly away home

Everyone has already boarded the flight. Luggages are also loaded. Everything is just on scheduled time. Still the flight is far from starting. It is a Newark - Mumbai flight on Christmas eve. I had an window seat. five minutes past the scheduled departure time, I looked through the window at the distant status display. It read,
Time : + 00:05:43
Definitely it meant something else, but to me it made sense in a different way. The ground crew was unable to figure out why the flight hasn't even started its APUs even after closing all the doors and locking the luggages. So they put up a WHY on the status display!
Inside the flight people are walking down the isle, chatting to friends, who have got seats far away because of insensitive check-in procedure! Most of them are trying to settle a negotiation with their co-passengers to develop a new optimized seating arrangement for family and friends. The captain, fade up at losing their on-time statistics, finally started announcing,
Please settle down on your current seats. Once we settle on our course, you can move around and exchange seats as per you convenience!

How could ground crew ever imagine why the flight is getting delayed!

The flight was full of passengers returning to their home on Christmas vacation. So they had plenty of gifts in their luggages bordering on the upper limit of the baggage allowances. It was a hard time to fit all luggages in the overhead compartments. It was another optimization problem. How can you cram maximum number of your bags in overhead compartments close to your seat. Now consider each such compartment has three seats below them and each passenger on these seats has two bags of maximum allowable size. Each compartment supposedly, but not necessarily, can fit two of the maximum sized bags. But since the maximum size is defined by total dimension, some of the bags are too wide and some of them are too high to fit in with other bags in the compartment. If you have hard time in imagining, close you eyes and imagine a group of blind-folded people trying to fit in an assortment on square and round rubber pegs in few round holes. So it was a nice time pass watching the passengers and crew pulling down their carry-on luggages from overhead bin and trying to fit them in again in a different orientation!

Anyway, after all the seating and luggage optimization the flight took off half an hour after the scheduled time. And suddenly it occurred to me, tonight is Christmas eve. They might have some surprise gift for the passengers. Unlimited free glasses of Champagne with meals? Half of the ticket price refunded back? Or at least all the air-host and hostesses moving around with Santa hat ...
Well, yes, there was a surprise gift. 51 bonus miles instead of 3 for each on flight shopping ... urgh!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I haven't been to their site and was suddenly feeling little urge for Christmas shopping, so I typed in in the address bar ... and wow! Their site is totally revamped, and ... what is this ... the Auteurs ...?
Wow! Now criterion screens movies online ... and some of them are free to watch via the Auteurs.
This Christmas will be fun!