03 June, 2011

The ‘travails’ (pronounced trae-vels) of Harmless Brown Man - Part Deux

(This is a continuation of the much anticipated travails of Harmless brown man. For the first part of the story, click here)

Aaahh, the joys of flying international!! In my numerous travels internationally (my sum total of experience totals 2 flights. This is my second) good, clean, wide-bodied aircraft, good food, space to stretch your legs, free alcohol, and amazingly pretty air-hostesses. Actually, you know what? Make that air-hosts. Two of the grumpiest Dutchmen you’ll ever meet. Never knew they were made that way. Sigh. Story of my life.

Apart from the fact that I never seemed to get food (because I happened to doze off at exactly the moment that they were coming around with the food trays), I think the flight was pretty good. I also had a mid-air birthday party, which comprised of 6 of us toasting tiny wine bottles, some 32000 meters in the air (In case you’re wondering, I’m not on US soil anymore. I can be normal again and use meters and Celsius.) Awesome birthday, I must say.

Some four video games and 2 movies later, we’re landing at Amsterdam. This should be interesting. Amsterdam, the city of the famous canals, the coffee shops, and, of course, the red light district!! Boy, am I looking forward to this! I’m like a five year old on a caffeine freeze as we get off the plane, literally hopping on one knee. And then, as I feared, I find that I’m not allowed to leave the airport. Why? Well, because I carry an Indian passport. Sigh. Everybody else gets to leave the airport except for the Indian and the Columbian. Both harmless brown men. More importantly, both from countries of disrepute (india – immigration, Columbia – well.. you know what)

When I was growing up, alastair maclean and then robert ludlum were my bibles of inconsequential information. A big part of all their stories featured Amsterdam and Schipol airport (with good reason, don’t you think?). I must confess however, my 6 hours at Schipol were singularly devoid of all the cloak and dagger stuff that I had come to associate Schipol with.

Time passes quickly though. Pretty soon it’s time to board the next flight. The other guys (I really want to rant about the fact that Brazilians are allowed out the airport, but an Indian is not. But I guess I can’t do anything about it, except defend India’s equally incomprehensible policy of reciprocity with visas.)

The flight to Accra is a much more pleasant flight, made even more so by the presence of two extremely beautiful and charming stewardesses who were attendant to my every small whim. In fact, I actually held an impromptu self-help lesson for one of the KLM male attendants (I believe the right phrase is on-the-job training)

This flight passes pretty quickly too, and pretty soon we’re at Accra. I walk out of the airport, and breathe in the fresh air of Africa for the first time. I choke. Wrong air. Aircraft fumes can be nauseating, you see. Walk a little further away. Repeat dramatic deep breath. Africaaaahh!!! I want to burst into song right there (humming some lyrics by Toto. Reeeaaallly cheesy. I know. Ugh.)

The tour through the airport is pretty uneventful. Kinda reminds me of Ahmedabad airport before the new one was built. For those of you who have never been to Ahmedabad, the ceiling of the airport had these rafters that were home to omnipresent and omnipotent pigeons. I’ve had goo on my head more than once.

We’re staying at GIMPA (short for Ghana institute for management and public administration). The rooms are pretty okay. No problems. I’m dead tired. I’ve been on GMT for a couple of days now to avoid jetlag, and I’m feeling the effects now. Yawn. Goodnight!!

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