Yesterday was a very interesting day. A day on which two people in the family were on international flights – my uncle was leaving for a short holiday and KT’s brother came down for his break.
Nothing unusual or interesting there you say? Yeah for the regular family. In our parts while foreign travel has lost its charm (in the sense that we don’t have uncles and aunties and grandpas and grannies queuing up at airports with garlands and bouquets either to receive or send off people, but we’re not chilled out enough to just let the traveler be.
At this stage I will make two small disclosures, the uncle is hard of hearing, but he is incredibly smart and he has all his life demonstrated that he is very independent and can find his way around. He has travelled overseas once before but it for a conference when he was with a group of people from work. The brother in law is one of those genius types (yeah when he wins the Nobel Prize, you can all claim you know me!) and can be a little lost at times (you could be in the same room and shout out his name and not have him react – though I suspect he does this only when he is trying to avoid doing what you are asking him to do and worse he does math problems for fun), but then again he has done this trans altantic journey several times now with no problems whatsoever. And he is the baby of the family.
The Uncle Diaries
Now the travel date was fixed taking into account auspicious dates, avoiding the solar eclipse, the tsunami and a whole host of unfavourable events, this meant that there was just one day in the whole week that he could travel. I offered to book the ticket and I did so on the date I was told. Turns out that there was a miscommunication between my grandma and my uncle and while she meant that the “good day” was the night of 23rd of July, he ended up telling me that it was wee hours of the morning. So all that careful date deciding went out of the window. The second confusion presented itself when the airline decided to combine a few flights and change the flight timing. The new flight number was no where to be found online, so conspiracy theories came fast – it was a hoax call, there was overbooking so they’re trying to bump us off by giving misleading information, no one is travelling on the terrible day of the solar eclipse etc. It took a couple of calls to some incredibly stupid call centre agents (I even put on a mallu accent because I was pretty sure that I was routed to the same agent twice for me to convince the family that there was no conspiracy involved.
There was then plenty of lecturing on the process (by erm the much travelled me – veteran of three and a half trips abroad). First get boarding pass – clear customs – clear security – well you get the drift. Mild confusion ensued between Step 1 – get boarding pass and Step 4 – board the flight and intense worry broke out on whether he would miss the boarding call as he wouldn’t be able to hear the announcement. KT did helpfully point out that the way announcements are made, even people with normal hearing faculties can’t quite understand them, but no avail, so the decision was made that my mother would hang around till the airport till the boarding call was given and send him an sms asking him to board the flight. The Madras airport is hardly like a Heathrow and it’s a little difficult to get lost in the slightly larger than 10000 sq feet departure terminal! And then came the big question, hold your breath: To declare or not to declare his diamond ring at the Customs. By this time I had no patience left to answer anything and I just guffawed. My mother indignantly retorted saying she didn’t want him to go to jail like Sheetal Mafatlal! To which I just guffawed louder and she hung up on me.
The ending was largely anticlimactic and the airline staff offered to accompany him to through the processes and I know he could have managed just fine without help even.
To be continued: The Brother In Law Diaries