I am going through mild depression after having to cancel a holiday in Spain at the very last minute. Make that severe depression since one of the reasons is a bad back that seems to stay bad. And strangely, instead of dreaming about Spain and what might have been, I find myself dreaming of airports. Mostly the nice ones I have been in. And for the nicest, it is a toss-up between the one at Ko Samui in Thailand and Kangra in Himachal Pradesh.
The Ko Samui airport is a blink-and-you-miss-it building, all smiling friendly staff and bamboo huts and palm tree pillars (and if you have been to Hawaii and seen this and better, now, kind friend, is not the time to say it). At take-off you get to see emerald green waters and a brighter green of tree cover.
However, the one at Kangra has a stronger pull – perhaps it is more recent, perhaps it is the memory of a wonderful week at Mcleodganj. Or perhaps it was just the earnestness of the airport staff. For a tiny airport that sees one flight landing and one taking off (the same one!) each day, Kangra overflows with staff, perhaps the healthiest passenger to staff ratio in the world. Nowhere else has been baggage been so lovingly checked – they made me open my camera and take a random picture – to prove it contained no explosive? (They saw my neighbor, an American documentary film-maker with her seven cameras and wavered for just a tiny moment but diligence won and she stood clicking long after we had started walking towards the flight). And nowhere else has my person so thoroughly examined for possible banned items.
The walk towards the aircraft – a tiny scary thing – this is to fly us over mountains? is like walking towards the thick clouds that sit on the landing strip and on the low walls around the airport. And to fly over mountains and green fields, heart thudding in anticipation of a crash landing at any minute…
And the drive to the airport itself, through narrow mountain roads, and lush tea estates. All that, and then to land in Delhi less than to hours later, after a short halt at Pathankot – to walk out into, well, Delhi. Blah. Worse, to find myself at home in Bombay, dreaming of this and more. Blah.