I love airports. I always remember the opening scene of "Love Actually". There is so much positive energy in there. It is so unlike the air travel itself, which is pretty boring and congested. The lady standing next to me in the check-in queue had a quiet confidence about her, her hair carelessly tied up that made her casual look so lovable. "Shall I help you?" she asked me while I was trying to lift my heavy baggage. I guessed I was probably unconsciously mimicking someone, thereby exaggerating the difficulty in lifting my bags. "Girl, you look thinner than me. And I don't want to disrupt your carelessly tied hair" No, I did not say the exact words. "No thanks, I can manage". I am not against taking help, its just that I could easily manage myself.
While standing in the queue for getting boarding passes, I was given a form to fill and filling forms is one thing that I hate so much! I am generally very conscious while filling forms, as I am paranoid about losing concentration and entering wrong data. Name? This was the easiest, I filled it out without much difficulty. I looked around at the newly refurbished airport lounge. Looks decent than before, may be even slightly better than KSRTC satellite bus stand. Passport number? I looked a couple of times, before entering it in the form. I verified once again after filling it up. It was right! (I was so overconfident some time back, that I had entered my passport number wrong in the visa interview form without looking at my passport - had swapped the last two digits - and had also argued with the official there that I had entered correctly :D) I looked at the lady who had offered me help. Her eyes showed the complete courage to take on the world, oh! Date of birth? Careful, is it MMDDYY or DDMMYY? Okay, I got it right. One of the air crew girls in ash grey suit walked skillfully against the conveyor belt and crossed to this side. Sheer magic! Date of expiry? Must be 2057. No, it is 2058. What about the day and month? I dont exactly know when I am gonna die. Should I ask the personnel there if entering the date is mandatory. It took me full 10 seconds to realize that it was the date of expiry of the passport! I was so relieved.
While I was having my near death experiences, the lady was gone. It was good, she was slowing me down, I would have missed my flight! Singapore Airlines was very good. No no, I am not just talking about the air hostesses, but the service and seating etc. :D The air hostesses wore some traditional looking dress - a combination of dark blue, purple and orange colors - which otherwise does not please me, suited them perfectly. They spoke so softly, that I failed to imagine how they would look yelling at others! I was too tired, so decided against watching movies and slept peacefully after having dinner.
Reached Changi airport by 7.00 AM and I had more than 2 hours to explore around. I love looking around in a place and find interesting things about a place. My logic is that, you can tell how different a place is from others by looking at rest rooms! The pee pots in the rest rooms here were huge and long (a kid can almost hide inside there!) and they were very low. Do they have lot of short people here? Standing there, I felt as if I am very tall. I read the caption just above the pee pot. "No touch required" What the hell is wrong with these people? No. I sometimes judge too prematurely that I had failed reading the second line - "Automatic toilet flush control"! The shops here were the usual - jewelry, bags, electronic goods and for a long time, I did not see any food places! Do these people eat up the electronic goods, I wondered. Then, I found the food court where most of the names were unknown to me - then I saw Subway! But, I would not need it anyway, I would be off in a couple of hours. Rinko Kikuchi walked up the escalator with a big suitcase and nobody seemed to notice her. Should I go and talk to her? No, she looks to be in a hurry. In half an hour, I had seen at least a dozen Rinko Kikuchis and my face recognition skills were seriously being questioned in this part of the world. I returned to my gate, 10 minutes to go for it to be opened, listened to the announcement - "Flighth number one zero thoo thoo..."
I opened my eyes and saw nobody around, I realized something was wrong and I ran to my gate. I asked the woman at the gate, "SQ 3, flight to SFO?" "You are Vasuki Raghavan?" How does this lady know my name? Does she read my blog? No, you fool, they must have announced my name. "We called you sir, the gate has been closed now. You have to get a transfer" The flight was at 9.15 AM. The electronic time display showed 9.08 AM. The voice in the announcement had a soft Singaporean accent - "Gates will be closed 10 minutes prior to the departure" 3 minutes! I had to find someone to blame. I blamed Billy Wilder for making "Double Indemnity" which made me sleep late 2 days ago, then it was the thrilling India-Pak Twenty-20 match and finally the lovely air hostesses of Singapore airlines! I blamed the training provided for the announcers - the monotonous tones are never the best ways to wake someone out of deep sleep. May be they should have shouted my name!
Finally, I coughed up 150 Singapore dollars for getting a transfer ticket. Strange things happen to strange kind of people! But, the good thing is whenever a screwup happens, a lot of many things occur in great synchronization to make the screwup less painful - I had got another flight for the same evening. I was feeling hungry by now and remembered Subway. My geography failed me again, as I failed to find the route I had discovered earlier (I could not even figure out even after looking the map!) One left turn and I saw a topless Keira Knightley covering her breasts with a big hat. Yes, I remembered coming into the route now! Thats how I found Subway, but instead opted for eating Poori Bhaaji at Kaveri!
I did not go to the free movie show or the free Singapore ride. One bitten, twice shy. I did not want to miss the flight again. Strolled around, got a great foot massage from the foot massaging machine called "Big Foot", did a Singaporean crayon artwork myself and most importantly got the elusive topic for the blog post. All for just 150 Singapore dollars!
The flight to San Frasisco was smooth and I came out of immigration by 8.00 PM. Courtesy her super exaggerated animated hand movements, I could spot Krupa and Saif in that airport. She had a grin as big as the Caltrain. I was expecting her to tell me something like "Good to see you", so that I could irritate her by saying "I know that" in my Jack Clouseau accent. She hates my mimicry, so she did not give me an opportunity to use my french accent. The cool breeze hit my face as I remembered the conversation from Annie Hall:
Tony Roberts - "Lets get the hell out of this crazy city. We will go to California, Max, all the show business is out there"
Woody Allen - "You keep bringing it up, but I dont want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is you can take a right turn on a red light"!