Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back at last

Aaaah. It's so familiar and lovely. Although, it has to be said that sitting in Chhatrapati (yes there really are two 'h's) Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, waiting for the bus to the Domestic Terminal is admittedly not the most romantic start for what feels like a home coming after a year away. It ought to be a more dramatic return with vibrant colours and swirling activity, instead it's a bit grey and soulless, but a quick jingle on the anklets and a waft of coconut oil is enough to transport me to more spiritual imaginings. Having been spectacularly disorganised, I think I surpassed any previous PB for inefficiency, I only really started to get excited on Friday, just after I bought my ticket for Sunday. Since then, I have been in a steady state of joy at the thought of coming back, relaxing, seeing friends, seeing India (who feels like an illicit lover) smelling India, feeling India. I have no idea what I am going to do, clearly everyone can get on very well without me, so my presence is superfluous, but I am going to barge my nose in and make my presence felt anyway. And who knows, they may forget how unnecessary I am and include me all over again. I shan't take no for an answer.

I am excited about seeing how things have developed at RUHSA since my last visit, most particularly, the mental health project which was just incipient a year ago, but is a whole year down the line. My only sadness is that my year out co-incided with a year of Dr Rita's directorship. Out of five years, one year is a big proportion and I am sorry not to have spent time working more closely with her. Hey ho, what to do?

The flight over was brilliant. So much blooming bum space now. I guess previously, it was like sharing a seat with a whole other person. No wonder it was squished. I flew Air India,  which was very comfortable and quiet. I have been on previous Air India flights, where it was so full and noisy that it seemed as if everyone was sharing a seat with another person. This time, however, it was lovely. At the beginning, there was the usual perfunctory health & safety announcement telling us briefly about what to do if we crashed, how to get out of the plane, what kind of equipment our lifejackets would be adorned with - whistle, light (all of which look rather like they might have come out of a cheap cracker) etc etc. Then there was an extremely detailed announcement about how to use the lavatories aboard. Seriously, she went on and on about flushing, not putting anything down the loo - listing exhaustively all the kinds of things one might have on board which could end up down the loo and then went on sternly to tell us in a school marmy kind of way how "deeply inconvenienced" fellow passengers would be were some foolish traveller inconsiderately to use the toilet in an inaccurate and frankly irresponsible way. I guess the amount of time she spent talking about the relative dangers of flying on Air India reflected the likelihood of them actually happening and I am glad it was that way round. In the event, when I did nervously make my way to the loo, expecting it to be chock-a-block with diapers, napkins, tampons, combs, razors or small children, it was cleaner than a budget whistle on a life jacket and surprisingly fragrant. The Bad Cop routine obviously works.

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