And so it’s 6 am and I’m at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. All set to board a flight that will take me on a Turkish ‘chutti’. All around me are my fellow Indians. On various ‘packages’ and charters. You can tell our beloved countrymen by the cacophony that pervades the ‘hawaii adda’.
“Hey Jigneshbhai….Bhupesh ka che?” “Washroom ma, Kalpashebhai…” Then the dreaded announcement comes. An indefinite delay for technical reasons. Engineers running around hangars looking for a part — like it was a car that needed a new spark plug. Connecting flights at Istanbul airport have been missed, and tempers are beginning to get frayed. It is at this time that you begin to notice the true nature of the Indian foreign traveller. Apart from the sheer noise factor.
Here are some of my fellow traveller types:
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1. The ‘Where’s my coupon’ whiner and whinger: This is the guy who will wait for even a small delay and then demand to know where his free breakfast coupon is. When he’s informed it is KFC, he will notify the staff that he is a Jain and is forbidden from eating fried chicken. God forbid the flight is delayed in excess of two hours, he demands to know which hotel he will be put up for the night.
2. The ‘Disaster Survivor’: Nothing is insurmountable for this guy. When he hears that the delay is indefinite, he smiles knowingly and walks around the lounge telling anyone who cares to listen, that this ‘technical problem’ is nothing. He has encountered far worse calamities and survived unscathed. “Boss I was in Warsaw once, you’ve heard Warsaw, it’s capital of Poland. Full airport got bloody snowed under. I was stuck inside the aircraft, snow, hail, wind all around us for ten hours. Not one glass of water we got. Yeh kuch nahin hai. Ma kasam.”
3. ‘Do You Know Who I Am!’: This dude wears dark glasses even indoors. Difficult to tell if it’s because he’s a wannabe star or just has a terrible hangover. Either way, he bellows incessantly at the airline manager, “Do you know who I am? I will have your badge understand” (the result of watching too many episodes of Law & Order. To which the exhausted manager, now immune to any threats having faced every conceivable species of irate Indian passenger, looks at him as if to say, ‘No problem, right now I’d be happy for you to take my job so I don’t have to deal with jackasses like you.”
4. ‘Mr Barfly’: This gent has figured that there’s no point getting hassled. He heads for the bar, even at 6 am and tells the barman ‘Hey Boss, hic ek Kingfisher pint dena, yeh plane aasman main nahin jayega, I will give it you in writing.” And proceeds to get futher pissed. When we do finally take off, ‘Mr Disaster Survivor’ turns to me and says, ‘I think Mr Mallya should buy this airline, wot say? Accha what is your good name?”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.