It was quite a sight to see cheerful people in the flight to Chennai from Muscat yesterday. After a long time I heard this kind of non-stop chatter and talk. For those who know me, it is not difficult to believe that I love to talk.
The announcement said that we have landed at Chennai Airport and there was a huge round of applause and whistles.. It was the first time I have ever heard so much noise in a flight.. So also the first time I was home-bound on an International flight too. The set of students who were all cheered up, were graduates from a specific US-based university. They had to fly back to India from Muscat for a reason I won't know. As soon as we landed, there were non-stop applause, whistles and cheers. Noise - first time in a long time for me. It was easy to smile.
Then, there was the immigration counter where I was stamped an entry to my own country. The Tamil translation of the word immigration made more sense than the English dictionary meaning. You are basically taking an entry permit to your own country just because you are a non-resident Indian. The whole idea took me by a complete surprise and was a non-stop wonder till I stepped out of the airport.
Nothing seemed to have changed much over the last four months in Chennai Airport, although the regulars would notice more than what I could. Still the one thing that seemed constant was the cheer and noise that you see when people greet each other after a long time. Cant stop wondering about the extent to which we Indians, appreciate the idea of family and friends and people.
I have had the chance to take many domestic flights from Chennai airport in the past and also had the chances to see many people off on international flights; still after a few months it was very different to land here as an alien, in a city which I once knew like the back of my hand. Another non-stop wonder for me to see how people were waiting tireless for some one near and dear outside the arrival gate in the airport. Every eye showed the interest of receiving someone they knew.
We started off on the highway towards Pondicherry. It took us about two and a half hours to get out of the city limits, because of the traffic jam. I thoroughly enjoyed the wait in the traffic for the first time, because it has been a while since I saw so many vehicles, so tirelessly on the same track, in such a haphazard traffic scheme. It takes a lot of effort and strength to drive in Chennai traffic. I've seen Bangalore and I know it is tougher, but then if you are coming from a country where people complain of heavy traffic if they wait in a signal for three minutes, then it is definitely a wonder. Another non-stop wonder for me..
The fact is all of these have always been there and I have once been a part of these; still four months of life outside India makes the whole scene wondrous and new. Strange, but true!!!
Finally when we reached home, the feeling was very very different. Nothing seemed to have changed. It didn't seem like I was away for a few months at all. Another wonder to add to the list of non-stop wonders.... Wherever you have been, whatever you have been doing, however your life might have changed in the recent past, when you are back in the portals of your home, life suddenly seems comfortable and you know your way about..- The only reassurance that you are what you always were and nothing about you changes just because you have been away a little while!!!!.
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