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Terminal Trekkers

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Ashish Jagtiani is the name he was born with, though that is a bit of an urban legend. He goes by the name of Jaggu, a very popular name across the airwaves. Dry, dark and lucid would describe him aptly, where one can only hope that one is not on the receiving end of that unholy trio.

The airport is usually a microcosm of the residents and visitors in any city. After all, the first and last place you are at when you come to a city is the airport. Dubai has the distinction of being the busiest airport in the world. So obviously it is a veritable hunting ground for people watchers and there are some fine specimens at ours.

Duty Free Loaders – Resident or visitor, any catching of flight must involve a detour to the duty free. There you will always see a couple of shoppers who are probably taking a flight only so they have access to duty free. There is a glaze in their eyes, manic hand movements, shifting goods from shelf to shopping cart, sometimes a shout of glee as they find a great deal or something that’s usually hard to find. They behave like children on their first visit to Kidzania. In their own world, they can only be brought down to earth with a plaintive final boarding call announcement, that’s if they hear it at all. Or they are brought back to reality by being told at the checkout counter that they are well above their duty free limit. If you are the unfortunate person in the queue right behind them, sometimes you are entertained by the conversation that follows, said shopper trying to convince the checkout assistance how they are arguably the only person in the world for whom duty free limits don’t apply.

Latecomers – This lot are the ones who didn’t account for last minute packing, rush hour traffic, requests for duty free purchases, the chance of a long line at the check in counter and the amount of walking required because of the size of the airport. They will huff their way from the airport entrance to the plane door, trolley with half an underwear sticking out being dragged behind them, rasping ‘Excuse me, excuse me’ to other passengers who have the temerity to be in their hasty path. If you happen to be sitting next to one of them on your flight, be prepared for some heavy breathing and sweat droplets.

First time e-gate users – Many of us have been here, proudly brandishing our new e-gate card, approaching the counter and then wondering what to do. Now that we are experts in the process, it’s always fun to see how others deal with it, unless you’re next in line. Where does the card go? Why isn’t the machine reading the boarding card barcode? Which damn finger should I scan? What do you mean the system did not accept? Why should I scan again? Why isn’t this gate opening? If I slide under it, will anybody notice? Are people laughing at me? Get me out of here! I wonder if some of the more classic ones are on YouTube.

Flashmobs – These are the sometimes annoying group travellers. They can either be an organised bunch who know what to do or a bit of an unruly mob that looks like they’re on a picnic with no one in charge. If you are behind them, suddenly the check in line grows by twenty people instead of one or two. Security check is a mess, with a couple of dozen people all at once removing belts and watches, shoving bags into the scanner, forgetting to remove coins from their pockets. And the final straw is when the whole lot of them board the plane before you and suddenly all the empty overhead storage gets taken all at once.

Overweight – They understand the physical concepts of size, distance and time, but weight is something beyond their reasoning. This leads to practical issues like not being able to grasp the fact that the more you stuff into your bag the heavier it will get. A shirt will weigh maybe a 100 grams, therefore 10 shirts is a kilo, simple multiplication. A kilo of salted, roasted, peppered cashewnuts from Carrefour is as a matter of scientific fact, 1000 grams, it will not miraculously weigh half that. Multiply all these things by a week worth of serious shopping for clothes, shoes, electronics and random stuff at IKEA and you’re asking for a shock at the weighing scale during check in. That’s when the negotiations with check in staff begins, along with a quick physics lesson on the concept of weight. To their surprise, all shopping is not made of air.

Space Invaders – Those that believe that if they stick to you while standing in line, instead of leaving an appropriate gap, then they are twelve inches closer to the counter, and so they will get there faster. Or if they ooze onto your seat on the plane, that builds friendliness, not annoyance. These are situations that can usually be solved with the judicious use of a sharp object, a swinging bag or a juicy belching sound.