Different people have made different plans to spend the Xmas-New Year holidays. Some are spending them at home with their families; Some at a five-star hotel, spending Rs. 6,498 per head (drinks extra); some at their clubs and gymkhanas; some on the terraces of their buidlings, among rusting old water-tanks; some outside Bombay, at various resorts.
A friend, whom I visited this morning, was packing his bags and getting his family ready to deave the house.
"Ah you are spending your Xmas-New Year holidays outside Bombays," I said. "An excellent idea to get away from all this noise and pullution."
"Well, no, not exactly," the friend said. "We have bought tickets for Goa, and even, made hotel bookings there, but we are spending the holidays at Santacruz airport."
"That is a strange place to spend a holiday," I said.
The friend explained: "You know, these days, either the pilots are on strike, or the cabin crew, or the ground-engineers, or the loaders, caterers, ticket-checkers, for some strike to other, the planes are never flying. So, a lot of passengers, who are planning to spend their holidays outside Bombay, are stuck for days at the airport. So, in order that we are not diappointed, we have decided to spend our holidays at Santacruz airport."
"That makes sense," I said.
The friend continued: "We are taking our own food with us, including a turkey stuffed with ham, that we will eat in the main concourse on Xmas afternoon. And we are taking a little stove, to make our own tea, since tea is so expensive at the airport."
"That's fine," I said. "What about sleeping?"
"We are carryingbeddings," the friend said. "Besides, you can spread yourself anywhere at the airport, thousands of passengers are doing it every day, including foreigners, waiting for their connecting flights."
"What about entertainment?" I asked. "I mean, what will you do at the airport to entertain yourself and the children?"
"Oh, there will plenty to do. We can watch the passengers fighting with the Indian Airlines staff, the ministers walking in at the last moment and getting priority in special planes over passengers who have been waiting there for three days. When you have made up your mind to make a holiday of it, all these things can be quite amusing," the friend said. "I tell you, the whole family is quite looking forward to this holiday at Santacruz airport."
"What if Indian Airlines passes you through, puts on the plane, and lands you in Goa within an hour?" I asked. "What happens to you holiday then?"
"I am worried abou that," the friend said. "Indian Airlines has the habit of ruining even the best prepated planes for a holiday."