This post is for my friends who've been enquiring curiously and concernedly about my travel. The last one week has been tiring to say the least. I was starved for most part of my flight because the quantity of food given was so small that it might've proved inadequate even for the delicately built airhostesses(there was one old air 'host'(?), who after 20 odd years of feminine politeness seemed to have morphed into a hermaphrodite) . Speaking of airhostesses, i was saddened to see that most of them would have fit into that hot-young-babe category about 20 or 30 years ago! It is then that i also realised that the whites show signs of aging faster, with people getting wrinkles around the eyes, and on the cheeks, much faster than those with more melanin in their body. I find it amusing that air hostesses should be given such a highfalutin name. They are really just waitresses in the air. Anyways, since both body and mind were thus starved of nourishment it was a rather boring journey but for Kavery's delightful novel.
Since i had no flight trip in memory when i flew this time, it was nice to see the clouds below one for a change. They looked like mountains of cotton candy at times, and at times like the ice-bergs of the antartic, and when the sun shone on them they looked like the freezers in our refridgerators. Speaking of refridgerators, i am reminded that the German airport smelt like a bakery! And speaking of the German airport i am reminded of a conversation i heard in the waiting lounge where a 38 year old divorced man was flirting with a 22 year old divorced(and extremely hot!!) woman. He'd been married for 10 years before the divorce and now has a kid. She was married for 2 weeks, and has slept with about a 100 men since then. Also, the air in the German airport was nauseatingly dense with the smell of smoke and perfumes. In the flight from Germany, a loquacious American heading to Alabama was sitting beside me, and though i don't remember the specifics of the chatter i do remember he complimented me on the excellent suit(it was bought my dad 30 yrs ago on his trip down here!). It then occured to me to advertise my shoes too. If he complimented me on those, i would tell him they cost $4 :D
It's been a little tough for me to get accustomed to the excessive use of 'hello's, 'hi's, 'excuse me's and 'sorry's. I also find it queer that two complete strangers should say 'hi' or 'how're you doing?' when they walk past each other. This superficial concern is quite unnecessary and it is annoying to have to use it all the time. Anyways, talking off superficiality, i realise that the US is full of it. Their sophistication is quite sophisticated. They are nice on the outside but they aren't genuine. To illustrate, i met a certain lady, during the registration process, three times during the day, and each time she smiled pleasantly, greeted me and asked the same set of questions she had asked me the first time. And all this, in a short span of a couple of hours. Instead, i would've felt nicer if she just remembered my face and what i'd said earlier.
Another superficial sophistication of theirs which causes much agony to many Indians is the way they unsoil themselves. In flights, one isn't supposed to put the tissue papers into the pot lest the drain get clogged because they use not water but air suction to flush. When i used them for the first time i ignorantly made this mistake , possibly much to the inconvenience of fellow passengers who would now have one less bathroom to access. I just hope they fixed the problem during flight itself. Yet another superficial sophistication i noticed is the use of carpets. We don't use soft, beautiful carpets but we keep our ordinary-looking floors clean. Here, the floors look pretty in furry ankle deep carpets that accumulate the dust of unclean footwear for months, because the americans never take off their shows, sometimes not even in bed!
I've felt a sense of loneliness for the past couple of days, because there's almost no one to talk to here, and i still don't have access to the library to get hold of books, or the computer centre for internet. The senior's with whom i am staying have however been kind enough to let me use their laptops when they don't need it. I've just had formal conversations with people at the university and haven't yet found friends since people are scattered in buildings in different streets, locked up in one senior's room or the other.
I notice that there is lots of obesity in the US. The women are either hourglass shaped bombshells, or just bombshell shaped. Also, most women use make-up, and they use it generously. Men and women have all sorts of fancy hair-dos, and fancy outfits.I regret that i didn't bring along my torn jeans from India. Little did i realise that that was the most fashionable dress i had in my array of clothing. The Americans also drink a lot of soft-drinks(soda as it is called here), and i'm sure coke and pepsi would care little about the slump in their demand in India.
Oh, almost forgot about my little adventure at Charlotte. Due to some bad weather near Charlotte the plane landed late by about 45 minutes. That gave just one and a half hours for my next flight. Since mine was one of the last seats in the flight i was nearly last in the immigration check line and i was done only after an hour and 15 minutes. There was just 15 mintues left for my flight to depart. I claimed my baggage and went to the customs check. Luckily, since many of us were late, they let us all go by without fuss. The guy at customs told me my flight was in Concourse E 20 . E is the farthest concourse and 20 is 19 vestibules(away) in that concourse. By the time i reached there it was 5:35 and i thought i'd missed my flight but luckily i saw them still taking tickets and quickly gave mine. The lady was going to tear off the counterfoil hastily when she double-checked and said, "I'm sorry your plane is not in E 20." Then i asked,"Where is it then?" She said, "Try E22' and so i went a little further and asked there. The lady there said, "I'm sorry your flight isn't in E22." Overcome with despair i pleaded her to help me find out where my flight was. She checked something on her computer and said B1." I ran, lugging my cabin baggage, past these 22 vestibules out of E concourse, past the C,D concourses towards B1, and by now it was 5:45. As i entered B1 i found the entry door closed and thought i'd missed my flight. But the man who checks the tickets in front of the door said,"Ah, there's our man at last!" , checked the ticket and sent me in without even tearing it. The flight door opened and i was let in. The airhostess took my bag and stuffed it somehere in the front. I hurried to my seat, and by the time i put my seat belt on, the plane had begun to move! Anyways, because of all this delay our flight was now number 15 in the take-off queue and had to wait one hour at the runway(i wonder how much of that delay was solely thanks to me :D). On the flight i found a chap from civil IITM who was heading to his relatives' place in phoenix. I made acquaitance with him. At phoenix, as i was waiting for baggage claim an Indian uncle walked up to me and asked if i was 'Siddarth'. I said, 'No.' Meanwhile, this civil chap and i were also waiting for our baggages to come. After nearly an hour of waiting we found our baggage never came. Some time then, i also realised this chap's name was Siddarth and introduced that uncle to him. Apparently, he was a friend of Siddarth's uncle and had come to pick him up. As nobody from the Indian Students Association had come to pick me up, in spite of their promise, i cashed in on this chance to request the uncle to drop me off at the senior's place on campus and he gladly agreed! My baggage came to me the following day. I'm sure what happened was that my baggage reached the flight late and hence came by the next flight in to Phoenix!