Five in the morning. Driving to Bangalore airport with colleagues. No traffic jam at this time, but the car is moving very slowly. I was sleepy and barely had my eyes open. Suddenly, I blinked. Was I dreaming or was what I saw real?
An auto-rickshaw in front of us was carrying a 40-feet long pipe that was sticking out horizontally from both sides. He covered the whole road; no vehicle could overtake him from either side, nor could he speed with the heavy, unwieldy pipe.
Images of William Wyler’s 1959 blockbuster Ben-Hur entered my mind’s eye. In that most spectacular chariot race ever put on film, Prince Judah Ben-Hur’s devil-like friend Messala was using a saw on his chariot wheel, while his four horses charged at high speed; colliding time and again while trying to overturn Judah’s chariot. Now here was this auto-rickshaw, its destructive pipe weapon horizontally cutting the entire airspace. We were tailing it for over 30 minutes, trying to somehow cross it, when unexpectedly the auto-rickshaw took a sharp turn to the right. Just imagine how it swerved! Two troubled-looking men in the backseat were hugging the colossal pipe for dear life.
Delayed at the airport. A kind customer services manager rushed me through a special security gate at Bangalore airport’s newly-opened wing which looks dreamy with its soothing lights and decoration. The stylish shops reminded me of the ground floor shopping area of New York’s Trump Tower. Drops of liquid suddenly fell on me while waiting in a queue, startling me. As I ducked, I noticed a few buckets capturing driblets from the ceiling. It was not raining that day, so what was this unpredictable contamination in this high-tech airport barely a month old?
On another occasion, I went to use the toilet after landing at Delhi airport. As I was habitually sitting and checking my mail on my mobile phone, water suddenly gushed into my cubicle, and the bottom half of my trousers became wet. Here I was, about to go for a project review meeting with the board of directors of an American client of mine in the sophisticated Oberoi Hotel in Gurgaon. Fortunately, my dark trousers hid the wetness. I yelled at the neighbouring toilet occupant to control the health faucet water jet. He too rushed out apologising; then showed me his helplessness as the defective water jet was still overflowing. He said he obviously couldn’t have known this before he used it. We set out to look for the gentleman cleaner. We found him outside.
He was clueless; he requested us to complain to the management so that the defect would get rectified. In yet another Delhi airport toilet experience opposite Starbucks, I was holding my nose while entering a particularly smelly cubicle. Suddenly, I saw vapour clouds descending from the top and beautiful jasmine fragrance wafted in. I couldn’t understand how Nature became so magical, entering my cubicle to reverse the odour. When I came out it was the gentleman cleaner spraying air freshener. Undoubtedly continued…
Amitabh Bachchan, Dhanush, Akshara Haasan take 'Shamitabh' to London